Frantic festive period for gritters

Somerset County Council’s gritting teams covered more than 20,000km and spent over 970 hours on the county’s road over the festive period keeping key routes clear for key workers.  

The team of 54 drivers and nine supervisors from the Council’s contractor Skanska were kept busy throughout the holiday season as freezing temperatures gripped the county, including a low of -5.6C at Nunney Catch near Frome on New Year’s Eve.  

In addition to long shifts, often completing a route late at night and beginning again at 4.30am the next day, the team were forced to find replacements at short notice through illnesses to staff on Christmas Eve. There was a total of 326 individual route treatments and more than 1,500 tonnes of salt was used during the Christmas week.  

“This year was really tough,” said Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, Councillor John Woodman.  

“Our team do a wonderful job in ensuring roads are gritted during the coldest weeks – and have shown incredible perseverance this extraordinary Christmas period.

“The job they do is at times gruelling and often during unsocial hours when many of us were enjoying our Christmas feast or tucked up in bed.  

“The planning and execution during a pandemic has been brilliant and a great deal of time and energy goes into ensuring winter is as pain-free as possible on our roads.

“But it’s important to remember that ice and snow will always make for hazardous conditions whether a road is treated or not.

“Please drive according to the conditions and take care this winter.”  

Planning starts early each day for the Skanska teams with a 30-hour forward looking weather forecast checked first thing at 7am and depending on conditions operations are planned and drivers deployed.  

There are regular forecast updates throughout the day and evening, and depending on conditions and the developing forecast  further gritting runs are undertaken into the early hours if necessary.   In order to comply with COVID-19 protocols, additional cleaning of vehicles has been introduced to minimise the risk of COVID-19 spread, along with maintaining social distancing within our highways depots   For more information visit  

Submitted by Communications