The job involved in helping to keep West Lothian moving
It is important to understand that it is not possible to treat all routes simultaneously. The council must adopt a priority system to ensure that the treatment is targeted to areas of greatest need first and we have classified all roads and footpaths within West Lothian as either a Primary or Secondary gritting route. Secondary routes are further broken down into Levels 1, 2 and 3.
It is extremely unlikely that the entire network will be fully treated at any one time, we just don't have the resources, so we must prioritise. Furthermore, weather conditions mean we often need to return to the beginning of the priority cycle which can prevent any significant progress through the priority levels. In the winter months, West Lothian Council has to treat over 1,000 km of roads and around 1,300 km of footways to combat the effects of bad weather. To give this some context, West Lothian’s foot and road network together would stretch from West Lothian to Sicily, Italy. Priority routes are shown on the Gritter Tracker map above.
It should also be noted that only Primary routes are treated out with normal working hours - all other route classifications are treated during normal working hours only.
We also need to ensure that drivers comply with working time and driver hours legislation.We have a rota system in place to ensure our resources are maximised whilst staying within the law but it is not always possible to resource the entire fleet at any one time, nor is it always necessary.
If I spot a gritter that is not moving, why is that?
Drivers need to have a break from driving – it’s the law. If one of our gritters hasn’t moved in a while, this could be the reason why. Alternatively the vehicle may have broken down and is awaiting recovery.
Why do gritter vehicles spend so much time in and around Bathgate?
Our depot is in Bathgate so all gritters need to set off from Bathgate, return to re-fuel, load up with more grit and change drivers. Therefore they are in and out of Bathgate a lot.
Why aren’t you gritting housing estates?
The council doesn’t have the resources to treat all roads simultaneously therefore we need to prioritise. Housing estates are secondary level 2 routes treated on a reactive basis only during normal working hours. These routes will only be treated when the higher priority routes are deemed to be in a satisfactory condition.
What about railway station car parks and other private car parks?
The council don’t treat private car parks.
How many Gritters and winter vehicles do you have?
In our fleet we have:
- 28 Gritters
- 5 Vehicles suitable for filling grit bins/hand gritting etc
- 29 Mini Tractors
Additional vehicles are also available from other services to support the fleet if required.
How much salt/grit do they hold?
There are a variety of different capacities due to the range of vehicles we have available. Our smallest vehicles hold around 1 tonne with our fixed body gritters able to hold almost 14 tonnes.
When I drive behind a gritter, they aren’t always spreading grit/salt. Why is that?
Each gritter has an allocated route to ensure the network is treated as efficiently as possible. A gritter may be tasked with spreading salt on a route in Livingston therefore doesn't start spreading until it reaches that location. Another reason is that a gritter may have used all its salt and is heading back to the depot for a refill.
West Lothian have over 2,500 grit bins, a large number for the size of the area, which are available for members of the public to use on public roads and footpaths. We aim to refill grit bins on request but this can stretch our resources as we often find bins are being emptied when there is no apparent need.
It’s also a huge task to service and replenish grit bins during periods of severe weather when our resources are deployed in higher priority areas. In these circumstances it is unlikely that the majority of grit bins will be refilled until weather conditions improve.
Salt for private use is available to buy at many retail outlets around West Lothian.
If you would like to make sure your local grit bin is on the list to be refilled when resources allow, please report it via the Report a Grit Bin Issue page.