Winter FAQs 2013-2014

1. How does salt work on the roads and why are roads still icy sometimes?

Salt is used to prevent ice forming. It does this by reducing the freezing point of water already on the road surface.

However, even when roads are treated there is no guarantee they will be completely clear of ice or snow. In severe cold weather (below approximately -70C) even salt will not prevent the roads from icing.

Rain can also wash salt off roads leaving them prone to re-icing. If freezing follows rain, salting will normally start after the rain has stopped to avoid salt being washed away. However temperatures may fall as much as 5 degrees in an hour and roads can freeze before a gritter can get to them.

Drivers should also be aware of ‘Dawn Frost’ where early morning dew combined with a drop in temperature can result in a frost forming on road surfaces. It is impossible to forecast with any accuracy where and when this may occur.

It is therefore important to remember that even treated roads can still have icy patches and drivers should remain vigilant, especially when road frosts follow rain on the roads.

2. Why can’t all roads be gritted?

We can’t grit all of Norfolk’s 5965 mile road network because of the time it would take and the cost involved (each gritting run costs approximately £40,000).

Our 3-hour gritting runs cover a total of 2063 miles (35% of the network) on A, B and some C class roads, commuter and major bus routes and as far as is possible one route into all villages. Some footways in the pedestrian areas of central King’s Lynn, central Great Yarmouth and central Norwich are also treated as priority.

We are not able to treat “cross-country” routes, so you may need to make a slightly longer journey to stay on treated roads.

For more details see Norfolk County Council’s Winter Maintenance Policy

3. Where can I find out what the priority gritting routes are?

  • Look at map below which details the priority treatment routes
  • Pick up a gritting leaflet at your local library
  • Call our Customer Service Centre 0344 800 8020

4. I live inside the Norwich City outer ring road, who can I contact about gritting?

The decision whether or not to grit inside the outer Ring Road in Norwich is a joint one between Norwich City Council and Norfolk County Council. Anyone with concerns about gritting in Norwich should contact Norwich City Council on 0344 980 3333

5. How do I get my road gritted?

The Authority’s policy on which roads to treat on a priority basis has been developed over a number of years and is reviewed annually. Whilst it is unlikely that any additional roads will be added to our current schedules, if you feel you have an exceptional case for amending them, you should contact your Parish/Town Clerk. However if you live in King's Lynn or Great Yarmouth please telephone 0344 800 8020 or Norwich City 0344 980 3333

Any additional requests for gritting are assessed and generally if agreed will be added in the following Winter Services season.

6. I’m travelling tonight, how do I know if the roads are being gritted?

You can follow us on the Norfolk Facebook page or on Twitter where we will advise if there is any gritting for the following 24 hours. You can also contact the Customer Service Centre after 1400hrs weekdays. The proposed action is, however, subject to change depending on weather conditions.

Advice on preparing to drive and driving in winter conditions can be found on our Road Safety page.

7. I am travelling on one of the trunk roads out of the region, how can I find out about gritting of the roads?

The Highways Agency treats 143 miles of trunk roads – the A11, A12 and A47 please refer any trunk road enquiries to the Highways Agency.

See www.highways.gov.uk Telephone: 0300 123 5000

8. Will footways and cycleways be treated?

Footways are treated on a priority basis after prolonged periods of snow or ice. Some footways in the pedestrian areas of central Kings Lynn, central Great Yarmouth and central Norwich are treated as priority.

Generally, cycleways are not treated. Some cycleways adjacent to treated roads on our priority network may benefit from the application of salt as a result of treatment of the road.

9. Where can I find my nearest grit bin? What should they be used for?

To find your nearest registered grit bin please see the map below. There are over 1700 grit bins around the county.  Some of these are provided by the County Council but the majority are provided by local Town and Parish councils. The council fills registered bins only and will not fill privately owned grit bins. 

IMPORTANT: Grit is only for use on the public highway and footways in the vicinity of the bin. Please use salt sparingly from the grit bins. A tablespoon of salt will treat an area of 1m².It should never be taken from these bins for use on private drives or paths. Anyone doing so runs the risk of being accused of theft.

10. How do I request a grit bin?

If you think that a location would benefit from a grit bin, please contact your Town or Parish Council.  If you live in the unparished (urban) areas of King's Lynn or Great Yarmouth, please phone the County Council's customer services on 0344 800 8020.  If you live in the Norwich City Council area, please contact them on 0344 980 3333.

If you represent a Town or Parish Council and want to buy a new grit bin, you will need to agree a location with the County Council so that we can refill it for you.  You can start this process by completing the On-line highway problem and enquiry form or telephoning us on 0344 800 8020.

11. What do I do if a grit bin is empty or damaged?

Please complete our report form (select Grit Bin in the drop down menu) or telephone us on 0344 800 8020.  If the bin is in the Norwich City Council area, please contact them on 0344 980 3333. 

Norfolk County Council will refill empty grit bins when resources allow.

If a damaged grit bin is owned by a Town or Parish council we will pass the information on to them. Thanks for your help in keeping supplies maintained in bad weather.

12. Does the council clear snow?

Clearing and removing snow from the highway is completed on a priority basis. The priority routes for snow clearance are the same as the gritting routes, although in severe conditions snow clearing work is concentrated on A roads then B roads and then the remainder of the priority network. Other roads are then treated in accordance with local conditions.

When the entire county's fleet of gritting lorries and ploughs are in use for snow clearing, we call on additional help from a number of local farmers or contractors.

13. Can I help with snow clearing?

If you are a farmer with an existing snow plough you will contacted by the highways team if your services are required.

If you are a farmer and would like to offer assistance please call 0344 800 8020 and let us know details of the vehicles you have and where you are located.

If you are a member of the public wishing to volunteer your service please contact your local Parish/Town council. If you are a business wishing to offer your services please contact us on 0344 800 8020

14. If I clear snow or ice myself, am I liable if someone has an accident?

Last winter many people helped keep pavements and public spaces around their homes clear of snow. However, many people were put off doing so because of fears of being sued. Read on for advice on your rights and responsibilities when clearing snow and ice from public areas.

It is extremely unlikely that someone who has attempted to clear snow in a careful manner will be sued or held legally responsible if someone slips or falls on ice or snow at their property.

People should not be deterred from performing a socially responsible act, such as clearing a path of snow, by the fear that someone may subsequently get injured slipping on the path.

Though the person clearing the snow does have responsibilities when doing the job, mainly to ensure that they are not making the area more dangerous by allowing it to refreeze, it is important to note that those walking on snow and ice have responsibilities themselves. A common sense approach is encouraged.

15. If my pet eats the de-icing product, do I need to take it to the vet?

No – it is not harmful to pets, wildlife or the environment. The Environment Agency have approved use of this de-icing product.