What did our councils learn from the snow?

After the worst winter in 30 years, what are our councils going to do differently?

The region grounded to a halt during the first few weeks of 2010 with ice and snow causing chaos across the UK.

After councils ran out of salt and grit supplies with many saying they didn't act quick enough, what have they learned and what will they do differently if we get the same bad weather this winter?

Heart has asked that question to the council's which serve our area.

Wirral Council say their salt stocks are at capacity with 2,500 tonnes being stored in their salt barn.  They have also invested in a new GPS system for their fleet of gritters to make sure they're used more efficiently.  

Cllr Joan Vaughan is Conwy Council's Cabinet Member for Infrastructure.  She's told Heart that they have 9,300 tonnes of salt in stock with a further 1,300 on order:  "We didn't run out in Conwy last winter and we were able to offer assistance to other authorities, but stocks did run very low.

"As a result we have increased our stocks as part of our preparations for the coming winter."

Last year Wrexham Council used 7,000 tonnes of salt on their counties roads.  Cllr David Bithell, Lead member for Environment and Transport has been telling Heart that preparations are well underway: "We already have 5,000 tonnes of salt in stock.

"Our new salt store in Chirk has been built and an order of a further 2,000 tonnes is planned."

They have also bought two tractor towed gritter units to help clear areas on high ground and bought slush ploughs and gritting units to be attached to quad bikes to clear the town centre and village shopping centres.

Stock levels in Denbighshire have been increased the volume of salt they can hold in stock with 8,000 tonnes being held across three depots.

They've told Heart that in a 'normal' winter they expect to use 4,000 tonnes and a spokeswoman said: "It's a fine line between buying too much of a commodity that has a finite shelf life and ensuring their is sufficient for our needs."

In Cheshire West and Chester they are planning to distribute special snow bags into rural areas of the community which will work alongside salt bins to help schools and communities deal with ice and snow.

A spokesman said:

"The authority has been preparing for the coming winter months since September 2009, when members agreed a full review of gritting routes across the borough.

"We have increased our salt stocks by 2000 tonnes since 2008 - resulting in a stockpile of more than 4000 tonnes for the west of the borough - whilst the east draws directly from the salt mine in Winsford.

"We will continue to monitor these levels through the winter, with stores replenished as they are used."

Flintshire Council has fully stocked salt domes ahead of the winter period.

The Council says it has a well maintained fleet of gritters which are serviced and fitted with the latest technology to keep roads clear this winter.