With more than 42,000 tonnes of salt in stock, a fleet of vehicles on standby and hundreds of salt bins in place, County Durham is ready for winter.

Preparations for the cold weather have been underway for some time but Durham County Council’s winter maintenance programme for 2016/17 is now all set.

The budget for this year’s programme is £5.2 million, which will once again enable the council to treat 1,700km of roads during normal winter conditions.

Representing 45 per cent of the network, these roads are known as priority 1 are mainly A and B roads, bus routes and locations where there are known to be specific problems.

While more minor routes are not normally treated during normal winter conditions, in times of prolonged bad weather a secondary network of priority 2 routes will be treated when resources are available.

Gritting is carried out by a fleet of more than 70 vehicles including 37 large power gritters, 33 trailer gritters and six snow blowers.

The council also has access to a network of local farmers who are able to help clear roads in rural areas if required.

Meanwhile, residents around the county have access to more than 2,300 salt bins to treat local roads and pavements when needed.

Cllr Brian Stephens, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “With the weather now turning cold, it’s important that we are ready for the drop in temperature.

“Our overall aim is to keep the county moving whatever the weather so that people can get to where they need to be and access any services they require.”

This year, members of the public can track the gritters as they make their way around the county’s roads using an online map. Tracking devices on-board the gritters enable the map to be updated when gritting is complete on each route.

People can also keep up-to- date with the council’s winter weather programme in the following ways:

 Follow @DurhamCouncil and #twittergritterNE on Twitter.

 Follow Facebook/durhamcouncil.

 Visit www.durham.gov.uk/winterinfo for details of the council’s winter service operations including a list of priority gritting routes, online gritter tracking, roadside weather cameras, and information on which roads are affected by adverse weather.

 Visit www.durham.gov.uk/weatherwarnings for weather warnings from the Met Office.

Members of the public can also access a range of winter services online, including requesting a salt bin be refilled, reporting a pothole and asking for sandbags, by visiting www.durham.gov.uk

Problems with roads and footpaths can be reported by calling 03000 261 000.

John Reed, Durham County Council’s head of technical services, said: “Providing a countywide winter maintenance service is clearly one of our key responsibilities as a council.

“However, we appreciate that it’s also just as important that we keep people up-to- date with road conditions and our gritting work.

“Each year, we offer the public updates on our winter maintenance programme in a number of ways and I’m pleased that this year we have been able to expand that range of information with our online gritting map.”