Highways bosses are ‘ready for cold snap’

Norfolk highways bosses last night said they are ready for the approaching cold snaps of winter.

However, they have also called on people in communities across the county to play their part in helping keep roads and pavements clear.

Following a round of works over the past few months, the council said Norfolk’s county roads have been restored to the condition they were 12 months ago before the damage caused by the worst winter for 30 years.

It has also increased its stocks of salt for gritting in preparation for another harsh winter.

Graham Plant, Cabinet member for travel and transport, said: “We are as ready as we can be for the cold months ahead.”

Roads across Norfolk suffered badly in last winter’s big freeze, costing extra county cash to repair the damage.

Norfolk has now spent all the government’s �2.8m winter damage grant and a further �1.8m will have been spent on the roads by the end of November.

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The money has gone towards pothole filling and patching, consolidating earlier repairs with surface dressing (bitumen and chippings), full asphalt resurfacing, and major structural repairs such as the A1067 at Lenwade and the A1122 at Nordelph.

An extra 160km of road has been resurfaced or surface dressed thanks to this injection of funds.

This is on top of the 515km planned surface dressing and resurfacing in 2010/11.

Mr Plant said: “It was really important to repair the damage caused by last winter’s severe weather before the return of cold weather.”

He said that with 10,000 km of roads to look after it is difficult to prevent every pothole, but he expects fewer than last winter if there is an average winter.

The county council has boosted its salt reserves for gritting by an extra 4,000 tonnes after national shortages last year.

“We would normally expect to use about 18,250 tonnes of salt on our roads, but last winter we needed to treat the roads 131 times and used an extra 10,000 tonnes. The cost was �4.8m,” said Mr Plant.

“During the worst of the weather last winter, such as the heavy snow before Christmas, we were hard-put just to keep the main road network passable. If we find ourselves in the same position in the coming winter, I would urge people to do as much as they can to help in their local communities.

“We have heard that some people fear that if they clear snow or put down salt they make themselves legally liable if a person then has a fall. That’s just poppycock! Taking sensible steps to make things better for people carries no such risk, so clearing snow and spreading salt or grit is a community-spirited action that we should all applaud and encourage.”