Bolton and Bury are working together this winter to help both councils deliver a better road gritting service.
As part of the Bolton–Bury Alliance gritting vehicles will operate out of Bolton Council’s grit barn facility at the depot in Ellesmere Street, and both councils will work on a co-operative approach to salt storage.
This approach builds on a recommendation from AGMA that authorities across Greater Manchester should standardise services and work together more closely to deliver a better service for residents, especially after the last two cold and snowy winters.
This winter is a pilot for the project and both Bolton and Bury gritters will work out of the joint facility, but stock at the site will be accounted separately for each council.
Staff at the site will monitor the supplies available to both authorities and if stocks run low due to a long period of adverse weather the two councils can share resources.
Using Bolton Council’s salt barn enables Bury to use the grit that is used in Bolton called ‘Saltcoate’.
Saltcoate is a different type of grit to what has been used previously in Bury. It has to be stored in an indoor facility and the benefits of using it are: it is ‘stickier’ which minimises run-off; it reduces corrosion to vehicles and less grit needs to be used, which has environmental and economic benefits.
Sharing the salt barn also eliminates the environmental impacts of storing grit outside and the inconvenience to residents near Bury’s Bradley Fold depot as vehicle and loading noise is reduced.
A hopper system is also used in Bolton which speeds up the loading process.
Both councils have received deliveries of grit salt to the facility and gritters have been out in both Bolton and Bury many times making sure that key routes are gritted. In total Bury has gritted on 15 days so far this year and in Bolton gritters have been out 18 times.
Councillor Bob Bibby, Leader of Bury Council, said: “This new approach will help Bury Council deliver a more effective service. Our grit will be stored in a purpose built facility and this allows us to use coated salt, which is much easier to spread and is more effective. The benefits are, we will use less salt and make savings.
“Last year during the cold weather we made an arrangement with Bolton to borrow a small quantity of grit when our supplies ran low. However, we had to first of all move the grit to our depot before it could be spread and this led to delays. This year, we can now fill up our gritters from the same yard and, while we still have separate supplies, if we did run out we can share resources more easily if bad weather hits again.”
Councillor Cliff Morris, Leader of Bolton Council, added: “This is the first example of the Alliance in action and working closely with Bury will be mutually beneficial.
“Last winter we didn’t run out of salt but grit stocks became an issue nationally due to the extreme weather conditions and the worst period of prolonged bad weather for the last 30 years.
“We are prepared as we can be for winter and this sort of partnership working means that we are able to share salt and help out our neighbour if we get another really severe winter.”