Council’s fleet of gritters preparing for another busy night

Published: 26 February 2018

The council’s fleet of gritting trucks are getting ready for another busy night keeping the borough’s roads and pavements clear of snow and ice as the country gears up for the imminent arrival of the so-called “Beast from the East” cold snap.

Gritters were out last night (Sunday) and also this morning and are preparing to go out again later today, especially overnight, when temperatures are forecast to drop even further.

The council has nine gritting lorries which deal with icy roads plus a large staff contingent who grit busy pavements and footpaths to keep pedestrians safe. It has a stockpile of some 3,500 tonnes of salt available to use.

When temperatures plummet and roads and footpaths are covered in snow and ice the council’s fleet of gritting vehicles and dozens of staff are dispatched to clear it away, but with nearly 230 miles of road surface and 450 miles of pavements it is a mammoth task that always takes time to complete

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. 

When snow has fallen, the council’s main 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 450 miles of pavements and footpaths must be treated by hand which is a labour intensive and time consuming process. However particular attention is always paid to the entrances of rail and tube station entrances, hospitals, OAP day centres, schools, care homes, clinics and nurseries.

The gritting of borough red routes and their adjoining pavements is managed by Transport for London - these include the A3, A24, A205, A214, A306, A3205 and A3220

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 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: “We have staff available 24/7 to deal with a whole range of emergencies, including when snow or ice is forecast.

“Our gritting crews will be out again this evening and well into the early hours to tackle snow and ice on the roads and pavements and if necessary we have other staff who normally work in other parts of the council who can be called upon to support these efforts.

“Residents and businesses can rest assured that we will be doing everything humanly possible to keep our roads and pavements clear of snow and ice tonight and over the course of the next few days.”

Residents can find the location of their nearest salt bins by visiting and there is more information on the council's website about staying prepared for the cold spell.