The council recognises the important role the highway network plays and how an effectively maintained and managed network contributes to the achievement of corporate goals. Improved planning of our Winter Service will result in a more resilient network and reduce risk in the delivery of the service. It also has the potential to deliver the service in a more efficient way. This includes not only the management of salt stocks, but other resources such as fuel, plant and labour.

This Winter Service Plan sets out in broad terms, how the Council will manage the highway network taking into consideration stakeholder’s aspirations, customer expectations, network hierarchy, levels of use and environmental impact within the available resources.

Core winter network

A network has been identified and has been correlated to include the main Strategic Network and the Resilient Network. It is an operational network of roads and the procedure for activating service on this winter network is outlined separate to this document.

Winter Service periods

The overall Winter Service period for the winter of 2020-21 runs from:

  • Monday 9 November up to and including Monday 5 April but may be extended assessed on a risk based approach

The Core Winter Service period for the winter of 2020-21 runs from:

  • Monday 30 November up to and including Monday 1 February

Winter Service involves:

  • pre-treatment - “precautionary” salting to prevent ice forming
  • post-treatment - salting following the formation of ice
  • clearance of snow and ice on a risk based approach; and 
  • dealing with continuous severe conditions

Treatment routes

Treatment routes will be decided for treatment on a risk based approach taking account of the following factors:

  • special requirements of carriageways, footways and cycle routes
  • safe and reliable access to emergency facilities including Fire and Rescue, Police, Ambulance Services and hospitals
  • other public service access needs and critical infrastructure where the maintenance of access is critical
  • public transport routes and access to stations, bus garages and depots
  • safe and reliable access to main industrial and business centres of key importance to the local and regional economy
  • significant variations between summer and winter traffic
  • the special needs of disabled people or older people particularly where these can be effectively targeted
  • known problems, including significant gradients, exposed areas and other topological factors; and,
  • co-ordination and co-operation with other authorities

Transport interchanges perform a key role in the delivery of integrated transport and this is reflected in the treatment routes. These include rail and bus stations and the means of access to them.  These parts of the interchange are subject to different management regimes and we will liaise with external colleagues to ensure effective co-ordination of resources.

It is impractical to treat all bus routes as part of precautionary salting routes. The treatment of bus routes will be based on risk assessment of local circumstances such as service frequency and their importance to integrated transport services however, access roads to bus garages will be included on the treatment routes.

Similar considerations apply to school bus routes where the council will endeavour to provide Winter Service support.

Contingency planning

Winter Service procedures have been designed to provide a planned response during even exceptionally severe weather.  The delivery of a resilient Winter Service will enable local communities, business, public transport and emergency services to function in severe conditions prior to the need to implement contingency arrangements.

The resilience measures and processes that have been developed and incorporated into the Winter Service Plan will be communicated to and, where necessary, discussed with relevant staff and stakeholders.

The council, as Category 1 responders under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, has emergency plans in place in order to support a more resilient approach to Winter Service. Business continuity planning with respect of severe conditions is important; resources such as salt, fuel, spreaders, depots and labour are finite.

Decision making

The decision to initiate Winter Service is made on a risk based approach including the forecast received from the meteorological company MetDesk, and a Winter Decision Maker is available 24 hours a day during the Winter Service period to receive the forecasts.  

Where possible, instructions to perform Winter Service are issued to the contractor during normal working hours so that work and resources can be organised in an efficient manner.

The Winter Decision Maker will monitor the forecast conditions against actual conditions and review the decision to initiate Winter Service as appropriate. 

When a pre-treatment time cannot be predetermined due to varying weather conditions, the contractor is required to be available to commence treatment of the routes within one hour of an instruction to commence gritting.


It is important that highway users are aware of and understand the council’s approach to Highway Winter Service. Communication of the Winter Service Plan is an essential part of the process and for that reason this document will be made available on the council website.

Winter Service routes and locations

Gritting routes

Routes are numbered 1 to 10 and cover strategic roads in the Borough.  They have been configured using a risk based approach on the basis that each route can be gritted in approximately three to five hours from commencement of gritting.  In addition there are 4 routes identified to be gritted by mini-gritting vehicles as these roads are unsuitable for the larger gritting vehicles.

All routes will be gritted in one pass (i.e. one side) except where indicated in the Schedule.

Gritting and inspection routes and locations will be risk assessed continually to ensure maximisation of service taking into account available resources and best practice.

Additional locations

Treatment of shopping areas, footways, footpaths, cycleways (not on the carriageway) and public car parks will only be considered on a risk based approach during extreme weather conditions.

Grit bins

These are provided at locations around the borough where there is a need to undertake regular spot salting on roads or footpaths and may be placed at strategic locations on the network where there is a high pedestrian usage.

The contents of the grit bins are provided for use by the public on public roads and pathways and should not be used on private drives or paths.
Grit bins are replenished as resources permit prior to the Winter Service period.

Non-council locations

The council grits locations for Merseytravel, Merseytunnels, the NHS plus some shopping and leisure facilities under a contractual arrangement.