Bournemouth's Winter Maintenance Service
Where does the Council get its salt from?
Bournemouth's current suppliers are Salt Union in Cheshire (which provides most of the UK's road salt) and Irish
Salt Sales in Northern Ireland. At the start of the winter the Council had salt stocks of 1,200 tonnes – three
times the amount used routinely in previous winters.
What is road salt?
The most common material used to treat road surfaces prior to freezing conditions is rock salt. Rock salt is mined
from underground mines. It is a brown colour because it is unrefined so it is often mistakenly referred to as grit.
Bournemouth uses a treated salt product called Safecote which is coated to give it extra sticking properties
meaning it stays on the highway longer and has more effective de-icing qualities.
Do you put grit on the roads as well as salt?
Stone grit is only usually used on hard-packed snow and ice. In conditions where snow has already settled, grit can
be mixed with salt up to a ratio of 50/50 to provide traction and help break up frozen surfaces. Grit does not have
any de-icing properties.
How does salting the road work?
Salt works by lowering the temperature at which water freezes. It relies on the action of vehicle tyres to be
spread over the road, so requires traffic to be effective.
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.
Why do you need to repeatedly salt the roads?
Rain or snow will wash the salt away leaving roads prone to re-icing. So salting ideally needs to take place after
rain, but before freezing.
How are the Government and other councils making sure that salt supplies last?
A body called Salt Cell is convened by the Department for Transport. It includes the Cabinet Office, the Local
Government Association, 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.
How many people are there in Bournemouth’s gritting teams?
The whole winter service team consists of 12 staff. This is made up of gritter drivers, loader operators,
supervisors, duty engineers and support staff.
In event of ice and frost, gritting of the roads will be done on primary commuter routes including:
- Main bus routes
- Key commuter routes
- Roads to hospitals
In event of snow actually falling, the network covered by gritting and salt operations is expanded to also
- Many residential routes
- Schools of a larger size
- Surfaces in key locations
Snow clearance involves implementing extensive emergency plans and includes the mobilisation of resources all aimed
at clearing roads affected in the shortest time possible.
Snow ploughing commences when 40mm of snow has fallen and snow continues to fall. Our aim is to clear all priority
roads of snow, as soon as conditions permit, and clearance work will continue as necessary. In certain extreme
conditions it may be necessary to spread a mixture of salt and grit onto the snow to achieve traction, particularly
in the case of compacted snow.
Bournemouth Borough Council currently has three snow ploughs at its disposal.
- There are three vehicles and one back-up vehicle in Bournemouth’s gritting fleet
- On each gritting run the Council treats approximately 150 miles of road (around 50 per
cent of the highway network), spreading around 20 tonnes of salt.
- It takes around three hours to grit the whole of the borough's network
- There are 12 operational staff on 24-hour stand-by to deal with gritting and other
highways emergencies every day of the week throughout the holiday period and the whole winter
- The council holds between 800-1200 tonnes in its depot at the start of each winter
season. Supplies are always re-ordered before the council reaches a base level of 500 tonnes
- Customer Service Contact Centre on during normal office hours.
- Out of Hours Service on outside normal office hours
- Email the firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find more winter driving advice on the
Think Road Safety website.