Aberdeenshire residents are being reassured that despite a budget reduction, the area’s winter roads maintenance policy remains fundamentally unchanged.
Roads engineers spent the last year planning and preparing to deliver the winter roads maintenance service within the set budget for 2015/16 of £4.2million, a reduction of £1m from 2014/15.
This budget will pay for gritting, snow clearing and other work on 3,300 miles of roads and 968 miles of footway. Processes have been reviewed and amended to ensure consistent and effective practice across the entire region, with its unique geographical challenges.
Overall labour and plant resources remain untouched, with around 210 council staff and 17 external contractors still at hand to support the winter service. Furthermore, the council contracts around 120 local farmers to help snow clearing of minor and rural roads. This arrangement is often cited as an example of best practice among local authorities and is unaffected by the budget reduction.
Salt stocks are also unaffected. Around 30,000 tonnes is currently in storage at locations across Aberdeenshire and this is topped-up during the winter depending on usage. The council typically uses around 45,000 tonnes of salt each winter.
The ability to respond to extreme weather events, such as severe snowfall, remains unchanged. The roads service will, however, only carry out emergency action between 10.00pm and 5.30am at the request of Police Scotland. This retains the council’s 24-hour service capability while ensuring a level of consistency.
Aberdeenshire’s primary road network will continue to be treated on a preventative basis, with gritters and ploughs sent out from 5.30am and 3pm each day.