Local authorities have stockpiled 1.2 million tonnes of salt to prepare for this winter, exhausting much of the nation’s storage capacity, according to council estimates.
The Local Government Association's annual Winter Readiness Survey found about half of local authorities were at ‘the limit of storage capacity’.
This is actually a fall in salt stocks from the amount estimated in the previous two years, with an estimated 1.4m tonnes of gritting salt stockpiled last winter and1.3m tonnes in 2012.
This year’s survey found 87% are using GPS technology on the gritting fleets, while 95% of councils plan to use Twitter accounts to keep people up-to-date with weather forecasts, road conditions and gritting activity. This is up from the 77% that used GPS last year and the 89% of councils that used Twitter for winter service in 2014.
Cllr Peter Box, LGA environment spokesman, said: ‘As well as gritting our roads and clearing snow, council teams are ready to be drafted in to help provide a variety of services to ensure we are looking out for the more vulnerable members of our communities this winter, from carrying out emergency household repairs to delivering hot meals and portable heaters.
‘But council staff can't be everywhere. They rely on community-spirited residents to look out for each other. Just a quick knock on the door of an elderly neighbour who's perhaps too proud or unable to ask for help can make all the difference. They may just need an extra blanket getting down from the loft or perhaps they didn't get out to collect their medicine this week. It takes no time to check in but could potentially save lives.’
The LGA's team conducted an online survey of all highways authorities in England and Wales who carry out winter weather gritting activities - all councils except districts - with 67 responding.