04 October 2011

A proposal to install two new weather stations and upgrade five existing ones to improve forecasting for Northamptonshire County Council’s winter service will be discussed by the authority’s cabinet next week.

The improvements are part of a number of measures being introduced by the county council to ensure the authority is better prepared for severe conditions on the roads in the event of another harsh winter.

Other changes to the winter service include improving the way footways are treated in the county and an increase in the number of ‘self help’ grit bins throughout Northamptonshire.

Cllr Andre Gonzalez De Savage, county council cabinet member for infrastructure and public protection, said: “We’ve had three very severe winters in a row and we have done enormously well in keeping the county moving as much as is possible despite the extremely challenging conditions.

“However there are always lessons to learn and we have here are three proposals which will bring further refinements to what is a very effective service.

“Of course, there is no telling what this winter will bring but we need to be prepared for the worst and make sure we’re all set to tackle what Nature has to throw at us.”

The county council’s five weather stations monitor the general weather conditions and obtain specific data from sensors in the road.

The data is then used to calculate a forecast which can then be used to inform decisions on whether it is necessary to carry out a gritting run and in which locations.

The five stations are:

  • A509 Hill Top, Harrowden
  • A428 Harlestone
  • B576 Rothwell
  • A422 Farthinghoe
  • A427 Upper Benefield

Instruments and monitors at the stations require upgrading so that they can give more accurate data.

Two new stations – one on the A43 at either Duddington or Easton on the Hill and one in the south of the county at Maidford or Weston have bee recommended to give a fuller picture of the county’s weather.

The other new measures, if approved, would include the adoption of a protocol with borough and district councils in the county so they could assist with dealing with wintry conditions.

Borough and district councils could buy gritting salt from the county council and workers, who would ordinarily be unable to work due to the weather, could be utilised to assist with snow clearance and gritting.

The third change is the increase in self-help grit bins in the county, which has been increased by 80 to a total of 1,862.

The locations of these bins are available on the county council’s website on the interactive mapping pages.