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Grit bins and salt routes

Our winter arrangements for start in late October and run until 31 March, although we can extend these times depending on weather conditions.

We make informed decisions based on detailed weather forecasts on a daily basis throughout the winter. We receive detailed forecasts for the next 24 hours and for the subsequent four days. Together with this information, we assess temperature profiles and relative risk of ice or snow in areas of South Gloucestershire.

You can keep up to date on winter weather and gritting by liking our StreetCare Facebook page, following us on Twitter @sgloscouncil or searching #SouthGlosGritting. #GritterTwitter is also used but this can include posts from other councils.

More information on our gritting service is available in our Winter Service FAQs and you can read advice from the Met Office on driving in severe weather conditions.

Priority routes

We aim to maintain highways when faced with winter conditions so that they can be used with reasonable care. We prioritise routes based on the relative importance of the various roads taking into account traffic volumes, links to schools, hospitals, shopping areas, villages and major employment areas. Our priority routes represent approximately 30% of our road network.

In heavy snowfall we may not be able to clear all roads, so will concentrate on major routes including the A4174, A420, A403, A46 and A38. Our priority will be to clear the above routes and then work down the hierarchy and gradually reach our full priority network.

You can view gritter routes via the One Network roadworks website. Enter your postcode and then choose the drop down menu options “Map layers”, “Driver Information” and select “Winter gritting routes”. You can also now view a map of gritted routes for areas in South Gloucestershire.


We store our salt in a specialist barn at our depot in Yate and have around 5,000 tonnes of salt stocked and ready to use. We will take additional deliveries over the winter if required to ensure that our salt stocks remain sufficient to carry out a high quality service.

Our gritters

We have a fleet of 11 gritters which are thoroughly cleaned after every use. They were named following a school competition in 2011:

  • SS Greater Gritter chosen by Oldbury-on-Severn Primary School
  • Xenia chosen by Manorbrook Primary, Thornbury
  • Shuvool chosen Tortworth VC Primary School, Tortworth
  • Snowball chosen by Baileys Court School, Bradley Stoke
  • Salty Sam chosen by St Andrew’s Primary School, Cromhall
  • Rocky chosen by The Manor Primary, Coalpit Heath
  • Gertrude chosen by St Paul’s RCVA, Yate
  • Gritster chosen by Hawkesbury CEVC Primary School, Hawkesbury
  • Comet chosen by Cherry Garden Primary School, Bitton
  • Crystal chosen by Cherry Garden Primary School, Bitton
  • Snowy chosen by Olveston Primary School

All our gritters have speed regulators when spreading which means they cannot go above 30mph – this allows the correct rate of spread for the salt. The salt is distributed through  ‘low throw’ spinners which keeps it on a low trajectory and optimises spread and keeps salt away from windscreens as much as possible. Different rates of spread will be needed in different weather conditions.

Footpaths and cyclepaths

We spread salt manually on key town centre pedestrian areas and use a small spreader mounted on a tractor to treat some of the busier sections of cycle routes.

We decide when to salt footpaths and cyclepaths using the following criteria:

  • surface temperatures below -2C and
  • significant additional risk of urban footways icing up e.g. very wet, hoar frost
  • significant risk of freezing rain/snow likely to be lying on the ground during busy daytime periods

Areas covered are:

  • Broad Street and High Street, Chipping Sodbury
  • High Street, Thornbury
  • Badminton Road, Downend
  • Regent Street, Kingswood
  • Broad Street and High Street, Staple Hill
  • High Street, Hanham
  • Bristol to Bath Railway Path (Mangotsfield to Bristol boundary)
  • New road shared used path to Abbeywood roundabout along the ring road to Shortwood and linking to the railway path at Mangotsfield station

Grit bins

In South Gloucestershire we have 814 grit bins located at key points across the district. The bins are for use by members of the public to manually salt roads and pavements as required. View a map showing the location of our grit bins.

Motorways and trunk roads

Please note that we are not responsible for motorway and trunk roads. These are maintained by the Highways England. This includes M4/M5/M32 and the A46 south of the M4.

Gritting facts and myths

Myth: Once a gritter has put salt on the road all ice will melt.

Fact: This is not true. Spreading salt on the road is only the start of the de-icing process. Movement of salt around the road by traffic is essential to complete the process. Overnight, when traffic levels are low, roads can remain icy for some time. Cars/lorries help the process more than pedestrian and cycle traffic.

Myth: Spreading salt on fresh snow will not melt it more quickly.

Fact: The most effective treatment is to remove the fresh snow before applying salt. We fit snow ploughs on our gritters to remove the snow before we treat. When spread on top of ice or snow, each grain will begin to melt the surrounding ice working its way outwards. As it melts the ice, it forms a pool of salty water, which in turn helps to melt the surrounding ice and so on. Without any traffic to move the salt and salty water around and mix it into the thawing ice, the melting process can take some considerable time.

Where snow falls on top of salt then it begins to melt the snow from beneath. Again vehicular movements will speed up this process. However the first vehicles over the snow will actually compress the snow into ice in much the same way as a snowball is created. If there is little traffic, or very slow moving traffic, then a layer of ice may form on top of the road until the salt works its way up from below.

If you are considering spreading salt on footways it is much more effective if you shovel or brush away the snow first and then apply the salt.

Myth: Salt will always melt snow

Fact: When spreading at temperatures of -7 degrees centigrade, salt in solid form enters a solution at a low rate and is less effective. Even when salt is spread at between minus 5 and minus 7 degrees centigrade it is not considered effective, once temperatures reach minus 15 degrees centigrade or over 40mm deep salt is not effective. To deal with snow we would plough and use layers of grit to minimize the risk to the travelling public.

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