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Heroes who cleared roads saluted as £800,000 cost of the Beast from the East is revealed

PUBLISHED: 16:51 16 March 2018

Martin Wilby, second right, chairman of environment development and transport, with Nick Tupper, third right, assistant director of Highways, with some of the gritter crews, as the County Council thank them for their hard work during the recent heavy snow. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Martin Wilby, second right, chairman of environment development and transport, with Nick Tupper, third right, assistant director of Highways, with some of the gritter crews, as the County Council thank them for their hard work during the recent heavy snow. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2018

Gritter drivers, farmers and members of the community have all been thanked for their efforts during the Beast from the East.

Heavy snowfall and particularly drifts meant those tasked with keeping the roads safe and clear had their work cut out,

The Highways department has been left to count the costs of the exercise, with early indications suggestion the additional work has cost around £800,000 - hoped to be covered through existing departmental budgets.

On Friday, councillors lauded the efforts of its Highways team and the county’s farmers in coping with the conditions.

Members of the Highways team and farmer Daniel Skinner were invited to a meeting of the council’s environment, development and transport committee to be acknowledged for their efforts.

Mr Skinner, who was one of around 80 farmers who gave up his time to help those struggling with the conditions, said there was a really community effort across the county.

He said: “We were put on hold from two or three days before the snow and for the whole week attitudes to tractors on the road completely changed.

“People were so grateful to see us when maybe at other times a tractor on the road is a frustrating site. However I have received such gratitude since - my wine cellar is getting rather full.

“It was definitely hard work but I encountered real community spirit at the same time - there was an army of people in 4x4 vehicles out helping and others going out and about collecting things for their neighbours.”

Martin Wilby, chairman of the environment, development and transport committee, said: “The work done our staff makes me feel very proud - it was a real team effort.

“Everybody really pulled together, which is a real credit to the whole of Norfolk.

“The conditions our highways teams, contractors and farmers faced a couple of weeks ago were really gruelling. It was a constant battle against the elements.”

“The way people in the county came together to help each other through a really difficult time makes me even more proud to call Norfolk home.”

Numbers of the Beast

While the exact cost of the Beast is still being assessed, early indications suggest it will be around the £800,000 mark.

The county council’s 49 gritters were in almost continuous use between Monday, Feburary 26 and Sunday, March 4, covering almost 50,000 miles in the process.

The gritters were supported by around 80 farmers, who gave up their time to pitch in.

The gritters all went out on 22 occasions in this period, making use of more than 7,000 tonnes of sand and salt on our county’s roads.

Gritter drivers were supported in their efforts by vehicle fitters with the highways department estimating that its staff clocked up around 7,500 hours of overtime across the week.

In the aftermath of the storm, around 50 staff members - along with contractors - are involved in works repairing potholes and patching carriageways damaged in the conditions.

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