Winter service

To follow any changes to this service, visit the Council Service Updates page.

The council has a Winter Service Policy [PDF, 1Mb] so we can respond efficiently and effectively to winter weather. Recent severe winters have meant greater investment in equipment to deal with heavy snow and very low temperatures. The policy is updated each year to improve the service and keep the roads as safe as possible for all road users.

For the winter service to be effective, the over all winter period is defined as 1 October to 30 April with the core period being 1 November to 15 April, when the worst winter weather is expected. Differing levels of staffing and standby are provided during these periods.

1. Information and advice about winter service

North Lincolnshire Council has a highway winter service plan to help maintain safe driving conditions during periods of extreme weather.

The plan includes salting a network of roads when widespread frost is forecast. This network is sometimes changed in response to various factors such as altered bus routes.

Please note: The Highways Agency is responsible for salting and snow clearance on motorways and trunk roads (M180, M181, A180 etc) in North Lincolnshire.

2. How do gritters spread the salt?

Rock salt is spread out of the back of gritters by a spinning device.

The rate and speed of spreading is controlled by an electronic system in the gritter’s cab. Drivers are trained to use the system to adjust the width and angles of spreading depending on the conditions and type of road. A gritter will have its beacons flashing when it is spreading salt.

If you find yourself behind a gritter please keep well back, be patient and do not overtake unless necessary and safe to do so.

3. Why does North Lincolnshire Council salt the roads?

We salt the roads to assist the safe movement of traffic during winter conditions. However it is not possible to provide this service on all parts of the road network or to guarantee that surfaces are kept free of ice and snow at all times, even on the treated part of the network.

4. How much salt does the council store?

The salt stock at the beginning of the winter season is around 6,000 tonnes, which is enough for our average winter. We have contracts with Cleveland Potash and Salt Union to replenish our salt stocks during the winter season.

If the weather is so bad that we need to salt the roads around the clock (four times in twenty-four hours) then keeping the salt stock at these levels will allow us to salt at this rate for around 16 days. The Department for Transport recommends that councils have enough salt for six days continuous salting.

Although we are prepared to deal with severe weather conditions we do rely on deliveries to keep stocks high. If supplies are reduced by circumstances beyond our control, gritting routes may be reduced on rare occasions to cover only the primary routes.

5. When will you start salting the roads?

Our team is on standby from the start of November to the last week in March.

6. Why are the roads not salted when I can see there has been a frost on my car?

We usually salt the roads when the road surface temperatures are at, or forecast to go, below freezing (0˚C). Roads retain heat and do not cool as quickly, so frost on the car can be misleading.

7. How do I know which roads will be salted?

See our Gritting routes for roads that are treated in North Lincolnshire.

8. What do you use to salt?

We usually use rock salt, which is mined. This looks red / orange in colour due to dirt and natural impurities in the salt.

9. How do you salt?

To be most effective salt should be spread on to the road surface before the road becomes icy or snow starts to fall. This is known as precautionary salting.

It takes the gritters around three hours to salt the main salting routes, so we aim for them to set off before freezing or snowy weather is due to arrive. This is often in the early evening or early morning so you may not see them working.

To work properly the salt needs to dissolve on the road surface so it may not look obvious that salting has taken place.

10. What happens when it snows?

We apply more salt to slow the rate of snow settling and prevent compacted snow forming ice. However, if snow does settle salt will have less effect and in deeper snow will have virtually no effect. We then need to use a snow plough as well as salt to clear the roads.

11. What causes delays or problems for gritting?

Gritters are large vehicles, difficult to reverse and the drivers work alone, often in very poor weather. Parked cars and those stuck in snow can make some roads difficult to drive or even impassable.

If salting has to take place during peak traffic periods this can slow things down particularly if gritters become stuck in traffic.

12. Can I clear the path/road in front of my property and what if someone has an accident?

Advice on this issue recently issued by the Department for Transport:

When clearing snow and ice take care not to make things worse by using water or other liquids that could refreeze.

13. Can I ask for a road to be salted?

Once the priority routes are clear, during prolonged bad weather we will try to move onto non-priority routes if we are able. Requests to salt a road would be looked at only at this stage.

At the end of winter we analyse salting requests when agreeing routes for the following year. However, North Lincolnshire currently treats 45 per cent of the road network against an Audit Commission recommendation of around 25per cent – well above the UK average. As such it is difficult to add extra lengths as we are already stretched during severe conditions.

14. Can I call into a Council depot to collect salt?

No, we cannot supply salt to people visiting council depots. You can buy salt from most DIY stores or use sharp sand to help with grip if you can’t get hold of salt.

15. Why don’t you use an alternative to salt, like the airports do to clean runways?

Other chemicals such as de-icers are available but can cost up to 20 times more than salt and are not always effective.

16. Why is my cul-de-sac not salted regularly?

Salting routes are carefully designed to cover the main, primary routes. These include bus routes and those that carry a lot of traffic. We cover as much of the network as possible within our resources, targeting those areas of greatest need. Cul-de-sacs do not carry through traffic and there would be problems for gritters with parked cars and reversing out.

17. What if I need medical assistance and can’t get out of my house due to bad weather?

If we receive a request from the ambulance service or police for emergency assistance this will be passed to our teams who will assist as soon as practicable

18. Why do we only salt footways in the pedestrianised areas?

Footway salting is labour intensive and takes a long time so little work could be carried out before short term ice and snow melts naturally. With over one thousand miles of footways in North Lincolnshire salting them all is not feasible so our efforts are concentrated in areas that will benefit the most people.

Only footways in main shopping areas and routes to town centre car parks are salted. We will try to reactively salt other footways only when there is persistent snow or ice.

19. Can I have a salt bin for my street?

Each request for a salt bin is assessed and will only be provided if justified against criteria. It is important that we provide new bins to areas that will most benefit the surrounding location such as:

• Sharp bends
• Steep gradients
• Potentially dangerous road junctions
• Exposed locations

Salt from salt bins is for the roads and should not be used on private paths or drives.

20. If I spread salt from a salt bin, am I liable if someone has an accident?

Salt bins are a ‘self-help’ facility and placed in locations where road users are likely to have difficulties. Local residents and passing motorists can spread salt on the carriageway or footway in the locality of the bins.

The salt is replenished by the council but spreading by residents and others is at their own risk.


Customer Contact Centre:

01724 297000

North Lincolnshire Council
8-9 Billet Lane
Normanby Enterprise Park
DN15 9YH

Monday to Thursday: 8.30am to 5pm

Friday: 8.30am to 4pm