Derbyshire council chiefs: ‘Grit isn’t the solution to all winter weather problems’

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Council chiefs have moved to dispel myths about grit amid continuing public anger over the state of the county’s roads.

Many routes across Derbyshire are still in a hazardous condition after the heaviest snowfall of the winter on Boxing Day night followed by days of freezing temperatures.

A spokesman for Derbyshire County Council – which is responsible for highways – said: “It’s been a testing few days where we’ve been focussing our efforts on main roads before tackling secondary routes. Snow on Boxing Day fell thick and fast beyond anything that had been previously forecast and in a relatively short space of time which made conditions very difficult.

“It’s a myth that grit is the solution to all winter weather problems. Unfortunately that’s not the case.

“We can’t put grit down when it’s raining, it doesn’t work. And spreading grit is only the start of the de-icing process − it needs traffic to churn it into the snow to be effective and there wasn’t much traffic on the roads on Boxing Day.

“Also, grit doesn’t work when snow is more than a few centimetres deep. We have to plough fresh snow first which makes gritting difficult in heavy snow. It also has limited impact on icy surfaces which have formed over the past few days due to thawing and re-freezing.

“That said, our team of gritters were out non-stop around the clock during the snowfall and the following day and have continued to grit at regular intervals since.”

The snow covered the county on Boxing Day night, leading to several hours of travel mayhem.

On many routes across the county, traffic came to a standstill with some drivers forced to abandon their cars.

A number of side roads and pavements remain untreated and treacherous.

The snow had been forecast days before by the Met Office – which warned Derbyshire to expect up to 15cm of wintry showers and travel disruption.

Our newsroom has been inundated with hundreds of complaints from residents who claim the county council has presided over a gritting “fiasco”.