A FLEET of gritters has been primed and is ready to roll into action to keep the county’s roads clear this winter.

With 10,000 tonnes of salt stored for the season and 23 gritters and 42 drivers on standby 24/7, East Sussex Highways is ready to react when snow is forecast, or the road surface temperature falls near to or below freezing.

Preparations for the winter service starts months in advance and at the end of September plans were fine-tuned in an exercise known as Operation Snowdrop – ensuring gritters and ploughs are ready to go, and every member of the team knows their role.

The gritters are all named by local school children and names this year include ‘007: Licence to Clear’. They treat all A and B roads and some C roads – a total of 42 per cent of all roads in East Sussex.

Cllr Claire Dowling, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for transport and environment, said: “A lot of hard work and careful planning goes into our winter service to make sure that our highways team is ready to spring into action and make sure our roads remain clear during cold weather.

“Snow and ice can bring the county to a standstill and pose a danger to drivers, so it’s vital that we are ready to deal with any weather the season brings.”

The latest weather forecasting technology is used to decide when roads need to be gritted and decisions are made once a day, or more often if the weather is severe.

While the gritters have yet to be called upon this year, last winter more than 6,500 tonnes of salt was used, with 1,169 runs being completed.

Cllr Dowling added: “Our gritter drivers work tirelessly throughout the winter to keep roads as clear as possible, but even treated roads can still freeze at very cold temperatures. It’s important that drivers take extra care on the roads in wintry weather and consider whether their journey is necessary, particularly if the weather becomes severe.

“I would urge motorists to please check the weather forecast before travelling, and to make sure they are prepared for any emergency situations by keeping winter essentials in their car such as de-icer, a blanket, a shovel and a mobile phone.”

Information about steps drivers can take to stay safe and East Sussex Highways winter service is available at www.eastsussexhighways.com/our-services/winter-service

Any problems on the roads can be reported by contacting the highways contact centre on 0345 60 80 193.

For school closures visit www.eastsussex.gov.uk/educationandlearning/schools/schoolclosures/ and disruption to other council services visit www.eastsussex.gov.uk/news/