Gloucestershire County Council is taking action to protect its road network following the Government’s announcement yesterday that it will take control of all national salt supplies.

The Government is taking over control of all future salt deliveries through a national ‘salt cell’.

This means all salt available will be distributed by the Government on a priority basis.

With other councils’ salt supplies are at crisis levels there are concerns that supplies destined for Gloucestershire may be diverted to other councils.

With no let up in the cold conditions forecast for the next 8 to 10 days, the council is reviewing its operations on a daily basis and taking action to ensure its salt supplies will last throughout this period.

Throughout the working week we have continued gritting the entire primary and secondary road network to help people get to work.

The council is taking extra precautions to conserve its remaining supply. During this weekend, A roads and some B roads – that carry 75% of county’s traffic - will continue to be salted as required. Secondary routes will not be gritted to conserve stocks.

This means from Saturday morning motorists are being warned that roads that were previously gritted may now be untreated. The full list of treated roads is below and on the County Council website. Whether roads are gritted or not, given the weather conditions, motorists need to be aware that black ice can develop. Snow ploughs will also be out within each district clearing the way for vehicles.

This level of gritting is likely to continue into next week but the situation will be constantly monitored and reviewed if more salt stocks become available.

By taking this precaution we will aim to ensure the salt stocks last until the weather changes, or until more can be delivered.

This follows a similar decision from other councils such as Hampshire to reduce the routes it grits.

Even with no further snow, temperatures of down to -8 degrees are predicted so the council will need to grit the roads to prevent ice from forming.

When the temperatures go below -5 degrees, salt is less effective so drivers are still urged to take extra care on the roads.

Before the winter, the council increased its salt stocks by 53% to 7,500 tonnes and a new snow dome which will hold 2,450tonnes is being built in the Cotswolds.

In the last two weeks alone we have used over 6,000 tonnes of salt – compared to 8,000 to 10,000 during the entirety of a normal winter.

Cllr Stan Waddington, cabinet member for environment, said: “The Government can give us no guarantees about when Gloucestershire will get its next salt delivery. There are lots of councils who are much worse off than Gloucestershire and they are likely to get priority.

“We have to make sure we have enough to last until the weather changes and we can’t guarantee deliveries from now on. As more supplies come in, we can increase the amount of roads we grit.

“The advice remains the same to motorists - take extreme care and make essential journeys only.”

Primary Strategic Network being gritted from now on: West Area Road No. Description A417 Gloucester to M50 A48 A40 to southern county border (Chepstow) A4136 West county border (Monmouth) to A40 B4228 A4136 to Chepstow via Coleford B4234 A4136 to Lydney A4151 Through Cinderford to A48 B4215 A40 to Newent B4221 Newent to M50 B4226 Cinderford to Coleford A466 West border (Monmouth) to Bigsweir Central Area Road No. Description A38 Gloucester to South Gloucestershire border A38 Gloucester to Worcestershire border A438 Ashchurch, Tewkesbury to M5 A419 Stroud to M5 A419 Stroud to Cirencester A46 Stroud to Cheltenham A46 Stroud to South Gloucestershire border A4019 A38 to Cheltenham A4135 A46 via Dursley to A38 Various Gloucester City/Cheltenham Borough (as existing published Key Routes) A435 Cheltenham to A46 A4173 Pitchcombe to Gloucester B4058 Wotton-Under-Edge towards M5 B4632 Cheltenham to Winchcombe East Area Road No. Description A429 Wilshire border to Worcestershire border A40 Oxfordshire border to Cheltenham A435 Cirencester to Cheltenham A436 Air Balloon Roundabout to A40 (including A436 spur at Andoversford) A436 A40 Andoversford to Bourton-on-the-Water A433 South of Cirencester through Tetbury to A46 and Dunkirk A4135/B4014 Wiltshire border through Tetbury to A46 Calcot Crossroads A4135 A46 Calcot Crossroads to Dursley A46 South Gloucestershire border to Stroud A419 Cirencester to Stroud A417 Cirencester to Lechlade A361 Lechlade to Oxfordshire border A424 Oxfordshire boundary to A44 at Troopers Lodge A44 Warwickshire border (Fish Hill) through Moreton in Marsh to Oxfordshire border A436 Stow in the Wold to Oxfordshire border Please find below background information on the latest situation regarding local authority salt supplies. For more information, contact the LGA Media Office (0207 664 3333).

Q&A ON COUNCIL GRIT AND SALT SUPPLIES Do councils have enough salt in stock?

The Prime Minister, the Transport Secretary and Lord Mandelson have all said that there are sufficient supplies across the country to deal with the cold weather and therefore the LGA has no reason to believe otherwise.

At Prime Minister’s questions yesterday, Gordon Brown told the Commons: “I assure the hon. Lady that salt supplies have been built up as a result of what we discovered and did last year. At the same time, I can announce that there will be greater co-ordination of the distribution of salt, so that those areas that need that salt will not be denied it. I hope that I will be able to reassure her constituents that they will get the salt and the grit that are necessary.”

Councils learned the lessons from February last year and stockpiled more salt – despite forecasts of a mild winter. However, after the longest cold snap for 30 years and continued bad weather for 21 days, it is not surprising that some parts of the country have run their stocks down. Many councils have concerns about supply.

With the Met Office forecasting bad weather for the next fortnight, there will continue to be exceptional demands on salt supply for the foreseeable future.

The Department for Transport has convened ‘Salt Cell’, which will provide advice to the salt companies on how to prioritise their deliveries and facilitate mutual aid agreements.

How does Salt Cell work?

Salt Cell is convened by the Department for Transport and includes the Cabinet Office, the LGA, the Highways Agency and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales. It will assess which areas of the country need salt the most and make recommendations to the suppliers accordingly.

What is a mutual aid agreement?

If a council is running low on salt, it can enter into a mutual aid agreement with a neighbouring authority that has larger supplies – or the Highways Agency – to ensure everyone has enough.

Should councils have kept more salt in stock?

Councils learned the lessons from the bad weather last February and started planning as far back as the summer to ensure they had sufficient supplies of salt in stock. In making these decisions about how much to stockpile, councils have to take into account the cost of the grit itself, and also the storage costs, maintaining the warehouses and security. The Met Office originally predicted that there was only a one in seven chance of a cold winter in 2009/10.

Last month, the government recommended that councils should have enough salt to last six days of cold weather. It is clear, now that the cold snap is into its third week and no councils have yet run out of salt, that this requirement was met by local authorities.

What have councils been doing since the bad weather began?

An LGA analysis of council gritting activity over the last three weeks, since the cold snap started, estimated that: - The equivalent of 1.7 million miles of road have been gritted by council gritting teams - 200,000 tonnes of salt have been spread on the road - £12.2m has been spent treating the roads - 4,000 council staff have been involved in gritting operations around the clock What roads are councils responsible for and how do they decide which routes to prioritise for gritting?

Councils are responsible for nine out of every ten miles of road in the country. There are roughly 250,000 miles of road ( The Highways Agency is responsible for motorways and major A roads, while Transport for London is responsible for arterial trunk roads in the capital.

Councils know their local areas and draw up carefully considered plans to make sure that they are able to cope when freezing temperatures hit. They prioritise routes that are important for public transport and for the emergency services.

Most councils publish their plans for dealing with severe weather on their websites. If anyone feels that a road is not being gritted that should be, they should contact their local council or councillor.

Which councils are responsible for gritting the roads?

County councils, unitary authorities, London boroughs and Metropolitan authorities are responsible for road gritting. They make up 150 out of 353 councils in England. District councils do not grit the roads.

Why can’t councils keep all the roads clear when we get snow like in other countries?

We appreciate that many people have suffered disruption to their journeys during the cold weather, but councils are working flat out to keep the roads clear.

This is an exceptionally cold period of weather. The UK is in the grip of its longest spell of freezing weather for almost 30 years. Extreme or severe weather warnings are still in place across the country for both snow and ice. The Met Office is forecasting recurring snowfalls and subzero temperatures for at least the next fortnight.

Parts of the UK were colder than many of Europe's famous ski resorts last night as temperatures plummeted. Temperatures fell to -18C overnight in Greater Manchester and Benson, Oxfordshire. At its coldest, the village of Benson was only 2C warmer than the South Pole.

Despite the huge efforts being made to keep the country moving, we need to have realistic expectations. Nature is a powerful force and it is impossible to expect councils to grit every single road. Councils focus on priority routes and make sure that as many non-motorway roads as possible, and these make up nine out of every 10 miles of the road network, are kept ice-free.

Where do councils get their salt from?

Most of the salt is mined in Cheshire. The main supplier is Salt Union. Cleveland Potash, in Middlesbrough, produces salt as a by-product of its main operations.

Can it get too cold for salt to work?

Yes. Salt will work at temperatures down to minus 8-10 degrees C. Below that salted roads will still freeze.

How much do council spend on this?

In 2007/08 the winter maintenance budget for councils, which includes gritting and salting, was £185million.