‘No changes’ to which roads will be gritted in Devon this winter

Devon County Council (DCC) has confirmed that no changes will be made to the roads that will be gritted this winter.

A report set to go before the authority’s infrastructure and services watchdog next week outlines how the policy will be virtually identical to that delivered last year.

Only minor changes are being made to the primary salting network – where there have been changes to the highway.

Back in April, the council’s cabinet agreed that there should be discussions with health bosses to consider the possibility of amending its salting networks to include access to all Devon GP surgeries.

Meg Booth, chief officer for highways, infrastructure development and waste, says talks have since been held, but the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has not yet provided any information to justify any changes.

“Therefore there will not be any changes this winter as the window of opportunity has passed,” her report adds.

The Primary Salting Network in Devon. Pictures: Devon County Council

The Primary Salting Network in Devon. Picture: Devon County Council

Devon’s Primary Salting Network

The Primary Salting Network is made up of the major routes where the majority of vehicle movements take place and also includes accesses to hospitals, ambulance stations, fire stations, other emergency services, railway stations, airports and secondary schools.

The length of the 37 routes which form the Primary Salting Network is 20 per cent of the road network, but it covers around 70 per cent of traffic and access to 80 per cent of Devon’s population.

It includes:

  • All A and B roads and C roads classified as high-speed routes;
  • Routes with February two-way flows greater than 1000 vehicles per day;
  • Main access route to settlements with a population of 500 or greater as provided by DCC’s Strategic Intelligence unit;
  • Main access route to 24-hour emergency services premises, defined as ’emergency premises with 24-hour access’, including: ambulance stations, full-time and retained fire stations, hospitals with 24-hour casualty departments and police stations manned 24 hours;
  • Main highway access route to strategic cottage and community hospitals as notified to the authority by
  • Devon Primary Care Trust;
  • Main highway access to secondary schools;
  • Bus routes with a service interval of at least 15 minutes within any one hour of the day, in one direction of travel or where a combination of multiple bus services meet this criteria;
  • Main highway access to regional airports;
  • Main highway access to mainline and branch line railway stations;
  • Agreement to ensure consistency of action across boundaries;
  • The bus loop of Park and Ride sites.

The cabinet had also called for DCC to work with Devon and Cornwall Police, CCGs, hospital trusts and ‘Devon & Cornwall 4×4 Response’ to promote and encourage individuals with access to 4x4s to join organised response groups.

But the report says that a coordinated approach to encourage potential membership of organised 4×4 groups has not yet been developed.

Instead, tweets to direct individuals with suitable vehicles towards Devon and Cornwall’s 4×4 response have been sent, but no information on possible take-up is yet known.

Another recommendation that the cabinet made was to launch a consequences-based public education campaign around the risks of driving in snow and extreme weather and to work with professional partners to better educate the public.

It came after a task group was set up to examine DCC’s current winter service policy and gritting regime in light of 2018’s adverse weather conditions across the county, including the Beast from the East.

It found that members of the public ignored the widespread and accurate warnings from weather forecasters and the media about the dangers of driving in such conditions.

This resulted in vehicles becoming stranded and an increased risk to the public and emergency services and other workers

Mrs Booth’s report says: “The road safety team are currently working with many partner agencies to establish a peninsula-wide road safety partnership that should be able to tackle these types of issues, and once established, this task will be one of the areas that they will consider.”

Concerns had also been raised by the cabinet about gritting of cycle paths.

Roads which receive over 1,000 vehicles per day are gritted, but the highest-use cycle paths in Exeter are the Haven Banks and Riverside Valley Park routes, which according to January 2018 data, receive an average of 613 and 586 cycle journeys a day respectively during winter.

Thus is lower than the minimum requirement for roads to be treated.

The report says that the numbers will be monitored this winter and then reviewed.

The report will be discussed by the Corporate, Infrastructure and Regulatory Services Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday.

McDonald’s drive-thru and A30 service station on outskirts of Ottery St Mary on verge of netting go-ahead

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