Government funds new gritters and calls on councils to keep roads open

The Government is calling on local authorities to stock-up on salt and grit to keep key routes open, while bolstering Highways England’s fleet of gritters.   

Roads minister Baroness Vere wants councils across the country to ensure key transport routes to Covid-19 test centres are kept open this winter.

In a letter to councils, she urged them to ensure they have adequate supplies of salt and grit as the country prepares for the potential challenge of severe weather alongside Covid-19.

Salt producers – through the Salt Association – have confirmed that production is at sufficient levels to protect road users over the coming months.

The Government has also invested more £16 million to help Highways England deploy 93 new gritters this winter on the country’s motorways and major A-roads.

The new gritters join a 535-strong winter fleet, including 23 snow blowers capable of removing up to 2,500 tonnes of snow per hour.

A further £40m will be invested by Highways England to help more than 250 replacement winter vehicles join the fleet. 

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We have worked tirelessly with the country’s highways teams to make sure our transport networks are kept open and running in whatever weather we encounter.  

“This year, it is more important than ever that Britain is prepared for the winter as we continue to tackle the pandemic. Through this work, we’ll ensure key routes to Covid-19 test centres remain open in the coming months.”  

Jim O’Sullivan, chief executive of Highways England, added: “Our winter fleet will be out treating our roads around the clock whenever ice or snow is forecast, but it is still important that drivers plan their journeys, make sure they are prepared for the winter weather and drive safely in all conditions.”

The UK’s rail network is also prepared for the more challenging weather conditions, with contingency plans put together so essential workers can rely on the railways.

Network Rail and train operators are implementing a range of measures, from deploying specialist cold-weather vehicles such as de-icers at strategic locations, to using inflatable flood defence measures, as well as special timetables ready to implement if needed.  

Fleet News Awards + Commercial Fleet Awards 2021

The Fleet News Awards is moving to a new date for 2021.

Traditionally held in March, next year the awards night moves to June 29 at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. It will also for the first time incorporate the Commercial Fleet Awards to create an unparalleled celebration that honours and recognises excellence across every part of the fleet sector.

Stephen Briers, editor-in-chief of Fleet News, said: “With the industry in turmoil due to the coronavirus pandemic, we had a chance to reflect and review our awards proposition for 2021. While going virtual is an option, and one we are very excited about with our Fleet & Mobility Live show in November, we believe that an awards evening is also a networking evening and a chance to meet old friends and make new acquaintances in a relaxed environment.

“For many guests, it’s their industry highlight of the year. That’s why we decided to move the date to give us a better chance of being live at the Grosvenor House.”

Fleet News Awards 2021, incorporating Commercial Fleet Awards, will offer a unique opportunity to bring together the entire fleet sector to celebrate and honour the best people, companies and vehicles.

It is set to become the biggest and most important night in fleet. Further details about awards categories, judges and auditing will be released in January when Fleet News officially launches the Fleet News Awards 2021.

If you can’t wait until then, and want to know more, please email

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