‘We’re ready’, says council chief as Sheffield braces itself for the coldest days of the year

Jim Pursglove, Amey's winter maintenance manger, with a huge pile of road gritting salt at the company's Olive Grove Road depot.

Jim Pursglove, Amey's winter maintenance manger, with a huge pile of road gritting salt at the company's Olive Grove Road depot.

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Gritting bosses in Sheffield insist the city is ‘well prepared’ as residents brace themselves for one of the coldest days of the year.

Temperatures plummeted to -2C last night and were not expected to reach more than 4C today.

Concerns of people ‘risking their lives’ have already been raised after several motorists skidded off icy rural roads in Bradfield following money-saving cuts to the number of roads gritted. However, Sheffield Council and contractor Amey say they have 15,000 tonnes of salt in stock – enough for two weeks of gritting – as well as a new £1 million fleet of gritters to treat roads.

Coun Jayne Dunn said: “Sheffield is still gritting more than most cities in the country and our grit bins have been relocated so that most people can access them.

“We have at least two weeks supply of grit constantly so we are well prepared for winter.”

Gritting bosses insist Sheffield is ‘well prepared’ for colder weather as the city shivers in plummeting temperatures.

Sheffield Council slashed the number of priority two roads it grits as a precaution by almost 100 miles earlier this year, as well as removing or relocating salt bins, in a bid to save £100,000.

But despite the cuts – and the controversy they caused – the council insists it is ready for the worst the weather can throw at it and will do all it can to keep the city moving.

Coun Jayne Dunn, council cabinet member for environment, said Sheffield would be able to ‘keep moving’ but that people should not take ‘unnecessary risks’ and use public transport if they could not get their cars out in heavy snow.

She said: “People take their cars out, they leave them abandoned, which then means that more cars run into them in accidents so the gritters can’t get through, the buses can’t get through.

“Everybody will be able to travel if they use common sense.”

The changes have proved controversial, with opposition councillors saying they are now seeing cars skidding on icy roads in Bradfield and residents in Greystones complaining about the loss of grit bins.

Coun Dunn said: “Sheffield is still gritting more than most cities in the country and our grit bins have been relocated so that most people can access them.

“We have at least two weeks supply of grit constantly so we are well prepared for winter.”

Staff at council contractor Amey use forecasts and high-tech weather stations with cameras – from Birley Moor Road, Frecheville, to Cowley Hill, Ecclesfield – to assess whether the road needs gritting.

The salt stock is also split between Heeley and Ecclesfield to make it easier to treat roads on both sides of the city.

When it drops below 10,000 tonnes, more is ordered from Cheshire. A new £1 million fleet of gritters that spread salt more efficiently is in place.

James Pursglove, highways operations manager, said: “October and November were quiet, but December has been awful so far.

“I’d be surprised if we get a winter as mild as we did last year, but if we do get snow we are ready for it.”

Forecasters at MeteoGroup say it will be frosty then sunny today with a temperature of between four and five degrees - one of the coldest days of the year.

Overnight it will be around freezing and tomorrow more clouds will make it warmer, to about eight degrees. Rain is also expected on Sunday.

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