Getting the roads ready for winter

After last year's 'Big Freeze' caused problems across our region, Heart's been finding out what's being done to keep things running smoothly this year.

Here's a run down of what all the councils in the Thames Valley and North Hampshire are planning to do this winter.

Hampshire County Council say their winter preparations are well underway. They've already had a shipment of salt arrive in Southampton by boat. 18,000 tonnes of salt will be available to grit the roads this winter, which is 50% more than last year. Councillors reckon that's enough to cover the pitch at Wembley Stadium with a layer of salt over two metres high!

West Berkshire Council now have 5,000 tonnes of salt grit in stock which is more than twice the stock they had prior to last winter. So even if the winter is as severe as last year, they expect to have enough. They may even have a surplus which could be shared with neighbouring districts if they fall short.

Wokingham Borough Council are reviewing their winter maintenance plan and should have definite plans in place by the end of September. Their gritters are ready and they've got £130,000 to spend on making things run smoothly this winter - which is 2% more than last year. 350 tonnes of salt is already being stored in the Council's depots with a further 1150 expected soon.

Reading Borough Council have already ordered twice as much salt than last year. They've got £156,500 to spend on winter maintenance, and another £750,000 to spend in an emergency. Councillors tell us lessons have been learned from the extreme weather in 2009, and they are working to ensure they are as prepared as they should a similar event happen this winter.

Bracknell Forest Council have reviewed their plan for the winter, and now have enough salt supplies for twenty days of normal use rather than the six days worth they were advised to have last year.

Buckinghamshire County Council tell us they're a lot more prepared than in previous years, having used the experience of last winter to be better prepared for any cold snaps this year. Residents will be able to find out where gritting lorries are by looking on a website, and updates will be available on Twitter. They're planning to have 12,500 tonnes of salt available for the county's roads. That's twice the amount they had last year.

In the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead residents told the council they'd like to see an extra £100,000 being spent on winter serving this year.  The money will go on extra salt stocks, support for parishes and residents to encourage self-help by providing more grit bins and snow shovels, and more equipment to spread salt in town centres and side streets more efficiently.

Slough Borough Council have been fully reviewing their winter maintenance plan, including looking at improved gritting routes agreed with bus companies and providing new equipment. Their revised plan will be out in October. They've got 200 tonnes of salt in stock - which is double the amount they had last year.

Oxfordshire County Council say they won't be able to tell us their plans for another week or so. Watch this space!

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