Cumbria County Council winter maintenance activity is important in terms of both road safety and the economy. We undertake winter maintenance to assist in the safe movement of road users including buses, cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians and to minimise delays caused by adverse weather conditions.
The winter maintenance period generally runs from October to April although it can run on for longer depending on the weather. The service operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Every year we review our winter maintenance plan and the county council agrees priority routes for both roads and footpaths.
There's no law stopping you from clearing snow and ice on the pavement outside your home or from public spaces. It's unlikely you'll be sued or held legally responsible for any injuries on the path if you have cleared it carefully.
Follow the snow code when clearing snow and ice safely.
When road frost or icy conditions are forecast we will grit:
First priority roads within three hours of work getting underway and second priority roads within five hours. Wherever possible these roads will be gritted by 8am.
We receive regular detailed weather forecasts predicting conditions on roads in Cumbria and we will send out gritters whenever ice formation or snow is forecast.
First priority roads are those which carry a large volume of traffic and link the major economic centres in the county and the region. Second priority roads serve more local needs, but still carry significant volumes of traffic. The first and second priority roads combined account for approximately one quarter of the road network in the county.
The winter service will be carried out by a new state-of-the-art fleet of 33 gritters with on-board computers and GPS mapping technology giving information on temperatures and also controlling the spread of rock salt. The gritters can also be fitted with snow ploughs, while two new four-wheel drive Unimog trucks can also be fitted with snow blowers to tackle some of the country's highest roads, which often face the most severe winter conditions.
As the majority of the roads in the county are not routinely treated, we provide salt heaps and grit bins as a self-help facility for road users. Typically, these are sited in rural areas, on bends and steep gradients and in villages (often near the school) where they are most needed.
Whilst we can spread salt to prevent ice from forming before it is forecast, we cannot deal with snow until it has fallen. This may sound obvious, but it is the major difference in the way these two problems can be addressed.
Cumbria County Council is responsible for maintaining nearly 5,000 miles of public highways in Cumbria. There's no law to prevent you from clearing snow and ice on the pavements outside your property or public spaces. Some people will prefer to continue to do their own clearing without involving the county council, but the Snow Champions scheme allows the county council to have a record of which areas are being cleared and also helps people to be provided with the right equipment and guidance on how and when to clear footways. The provision of such assistance is on an entirely voluntary basis. There is no contractual relationship between Cumbria County Council and volunteers.
We receive detailed weather forecasts for the road network every day between the beginning of October and the end of April. These forecasts predict the minimum temperature and the time when it is expected to drop below freezing point, and rain, hail or snow. They also predict the amount of moisture on the road. All this information is then combined to predict whether or not ice will form and at what time this will happen. The county is covered by eight climatic zones for which we receive separate forecasts.