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

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Recent comments

roehampton recieved no salt until friday afternoon, the cleaners said the council did not think the estate was a priority? probably the worst response to snow ive seen in years, the gritters where no where to be seen despite what this article states, most pavements remained un gritted, the only roads to get any attention where those maintained by tfl, wandsworths reaction was poor at best, but you keep telling yourselves how good you are! the comments here say it all.

5 March 2018

really ? There was no grit on the pavements around the Wandsworth Bridge Roundabout and some of that is a designated cycle Superhighway. Really dangerous. Were your staff too busy out looking for kite flying tree climbers instead.
Peter Noble

3 March 2018

There has been no gritting around the pavements or streets of Clapham South and gritting should have been underway as soon as snow fell on Tuesday. One lady slipped and fractured her skull on ungritted pavements in front of our eyes. 2 hours for an ambulance to arrive because of road conditions. What’s the point of stockpiling grit to use it when it’s melting. The resources are there and should be used as needed, not after. Sorry but I’m not impressed by this too little too late article of gritters being out in force.

3 March 2018

Gritting like mad, perhaps, but not much sight of it up our way! Certainly, no clearing of pavements anywhere!!! Must be looking after per voters!
John Comyn

2 March 2018

A long road like Wimbledon Park Road leading to the station from both directions has not been gritted.

2 March 2018

But not on the Surrey lane Pavements or side roads

2 March 2018

cannot praise Wandsworth council more for all their gritting of the pavements as well as roads. There cannot be a better run council in the country. Thank you to you all
Angela Feather

2 March 2018

Gritting should have started 3 days ago when temperatures were lowest and driving was very difficult; everything is going to melt tomorrow anyway.

2 March 2018

There has been minimal gritting in the Putney area....Why are the pavements not being gritted?
tom brehony

2 March 2018

Luckily our Wandsworth roads aren't that dangerous during the day. Went out yesterday - after 1st checking the state of our local roads - and it was such a pleasure to find hardly any traffic and be able to drive congestion free. It's really cold - my flat which I've owned for 35 years has never been so cold - could be to do with the 37 storey building put up over the road - which I've heard has changed the direction the wind comes from.

2 March 2018