Lincolnshire gritters have once again been blessed by the Bishop of Lincoln and fellow clergy ahead of the winter season.
Clergy in Lincolnshire visited depots across the county to bestow blessings upon vehicles.
Rt Rev Christopher Lowson made his symbolic visit to the county highways department’s Sturton by Stow depot for a blessing ceremony.
Pastors Eric and Pat Whittaker of Jubilee New Life Church and Mr J Dyson of Barrowby Baptist Fellowship blessed gritters at the Ancaster depot.
Bishop Lowson said: “The annual blessing of the gritting teams is an opportunity to thank them for their hard work, heading out in all weathers and at all hours to make the roads as safe as possible for the public to use.”
Gritter salt stocks are assessed and test-driving of vehicles takes place before the roads become too icy.
Coun Richard Davies, Lincolnshire County Council executive member for highways and transport said: “This year we have a fleet of 43 gritters, including four of the biggest snow ploughs in the country, dubbed The Beast.”
The Beast was introduced in the summer to offer a new way of gritting Lincolnshire’s roads. Launched by Scarab Epoke, it is fitted with a stainless steel Auger system which changes the way the flow of materials on the roads are controlled leading to salt saving and reduced maintenance costs.
Richard Fenwick from the winter maintenance team said: “They are equipped with hefty ploughs which can spread salt more uniformly and clear snow more effectively than older models. They are also cheaper to lease and maintain, saving about £166,000 over 10 years.”
Coun Davies said: “Not only do they (The Beast) do a better job, but they’re cheaper to run too.”
According to Lincolnshire County Council, gritters in Lincolnshire currently treat 1,869 miles of roads, which is a little more than one third of the county’s entire road network of 5,500 miles.
This year there are 50,000 tonnes of salt and 28,000 tonnes of grit in stocks to be used, with a further 7,000 tonnes of grit expected to be spread by December 6.
In 2015, 40,000 tonnes of grit, the highest amount on record, and 10,000 tonnes of salt were used on Lincolnshire roads.
Mr Fenwick said: “This winter we have 50,000 tonnes of salt ready for use, and will be using new technology to spread it more efficiently.
“Last winter was relatively mild and we used just 10,000 tonnes of salt. However, in bad years we’ve gotten through up to 42,000 tonnes.”