Sleet and snow forecast as temperatures predicted to dip to -8.5

DEVON County Council is reassuring residents that grit bins are being re-filled as quickly as possible across the county as snow and ice are forecast overnight.

DEVON County Council is reassuring residents that grit bins are being re-filled as quickly as possible across the county as snow and ice are forecast overnight.

The county council has remained busy over the Christmas and New Year period as the cold snap has continued virtually unabated. More than 10,000 tonnes of salt have been used on the local road network so far this winter.

Devon has 1,550 grit bins which are being re-stocked with around 400 tonnes of salt so that communities can salt roads and pavements which the county council cannot treat. Only small amounts of salt are required to be effective, and salt should be used sparingly from the salt bins. The roads are treated with 10g (a teaspoonful) per square metre.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said: "We are experiencing extremely high demand on all of our winter maintenance services, and although the main focus is on salting our primary and secondary routes and town centres, grit bins are also being constantly re-filled right across Devon. In some areas the bins are emptying as quickly as we're filling them so we're working hard to make sure that the salt is on hand for self-help. It's there to be used but not much salt is needed to do the job so when people help themselves to the salt, please think of others who might want to use it as well."

Extreme cold is forecast again this evening, with road temperatures expected to drop to as low as -8.5 C in East Devon. Sleet and the possibility of up to 3cm of snow is forecast on higher ground. All of the county's gritters will be out on the county's main pre-salting routes between 4pm and 6.30pm this evening and again at 4am tomorrow morning.

Chris Cranston, Devon County Council's Highway Operations Manager, said: "This period of extreme cold is forecast to continue and overnight we could see ice, sleet and snow. With such low temperatures expected we would advise motorists to please avoid driving overnight. Drivers should not assume a road has been salted and in very cold weather even salting will not stop ice from forming, so please take extra care as there will be a risk of icy patches."

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Devon's salt stocks are currently being replenished with the delivery of around 4,500 tonnes of salt, taking Devon County Council's current stocks to more than 12,000 tonnes. A further 5,000 tonnes has also been ordered.

Devon County Council is responsible for 8,000 miles of roads - the biggest network of any local authority in the country.

Motorists are being reminded of the following advice:

*Avoid travel unless absolutely essential, especially at night as roads will always be more hazardous at night with less traffic and colder temperatures;

*Never assume a road has been salted - remember that showers or rain can wash salt off roads leaving them prone to ice. In very cold weather even salting will not stop ice from forming;

*Allow extra time for your journey and reduce your speed;

*Listen to local radio for updates on current conditions;

*Drive with care and according to the conditions.

For more information contact 0845 1551004 or visit the website: www.devon.gov.uk/winter_travel

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