Council’s gritting teams have been working flat out tackling the ‘Beast from the East’
Published: Friday 2nd March 18
The council’s gritting teams have been working around the clock 24/7 this week to ensure the borough stays on the move.
Wandsworth has nine gritting lorries which deal with icy roads plus a separate staff contingent who hand-grit busy pavements and footpaths.
But with nearly 230 miles of road surface and 450 miles of pavements it’s a mammoth task that always takes time to complete.
Minister of state for housing, communities and local government Rishi Sunak paid a fact finding visit to the
council's depot yesterday to find out more about Wandsworth's gritting operation
And to make the gritting of roads and pavements work effectively it needs repeated treatments – especially if temperatures drop further or there is another flurry of snow.
Since the aptly named “Beast from the East” hit London and the south east earlier this week 320 tonnes of grit has been spread on Wandsworth’s roads and pavements. The council has a stockpile of more than 3,000 tonnes still available if the cold snap persists.
When snow has fallen, the priority is to keep the borough’s main roads clear of ice so that the emergency services and public transport can keep running. Smaller residential roads are gritted afterwards.
The borough's pavements and footpaths must be treated by hand which is a labour intensive and time consuming process. Particular attention is always paid to the entrances of rail and tube station, hospitals, OAP day centres, schools, care homes, clinics and nurseries.
Priority is also given to gritting roads and pavements in neighbourhoods that are due to have their refuse and recycling collected so as to ensure that people’s bins are emptied on time.
The gritting of borough red routes and their adjoining pavements is the responsibility of Transport for London.
These TfL-managed trunk roads include the A3, A24, A205, A214, A306, A3205 and A3220. Locally this includes Wandsworth High Street, Tooting High Street, Tooting Bec Road, Trinity Road, Balham High Road, Battersea Park Road, East Hill, Battersea Rise, Latchmere Road, Nine Elms Lane, West Hill and the Upper Richmond Road.
The council has a direct link to detailed Met Office radar reports so that it can get its gritters out to all parts of the borough just before snow is due to fall.
There are also 55 salt bins located around the borough, situated mainly in steep and hilly areas where icy pavements can be particularly treacherous. These are available for members of the public to use on their own frozen paths and are refilled regularly during a cold snap.
The council has also supplied bags of grit to the borough’s 200 neighbourhood watch co-ordinators so that they can clear paths used by elderly, infirm or disabled people in their area.
And more than 20 tonnes of grit was handed out to Wandsworth residents free of charge at the end of November so that they could volunteer to help clear pavements in their neighbourhoods.
Transport spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “Our gritting teams have been working around the clock this week to try and keep our busiest roads and key pavements free of snow and ice.
“But because Wandsworth is inner London’s biggest borough geographically, it's a task that always takes time to complete.
"To put it in some perspective if you laid out all the roads in Wandsworth that we manage and laid them end to end they would stretch from our town hall to Notre Dame cathedral in the centre of Paris. And if you did the same with all our pavements they would reach a little bit further north than Dundee in Scotland.
“And keeping roads and pavements free of ice requires more than one treatment to be effective. If temperatures remain at freezing point or there is a further snowfall the gritters need to go back over the same ground again and again for it to work properly. One visit is never enough.
“Residents and businesses can rest assured that we are doing everything humanly possible to keep our roads and pavements safe and we will continue doing so until this freezing weather disappears.”
Residents can find the location of their nearest salt bins by visiting www.wandsworth.gov.uk/snow.