Page last updated at 14:39 GMT, Thursday, 7 January 2010

Cat litter used to combat snow as salt supplies drop


Crushed dishwasher tablets sold for gritting

Sales of cat litter and table salt have risen as the country's grit supplies dwindle in the freezing weather.

With councils across England struggling to keep roads gritted, people are finding alternative ways to avoid slipping on icy driveways and paths.

A Bristol branch of Sainsbury's sold out of table salt on Wednesday, and has seen cat litter sales increase.

And a Norfolk company has been selling crushed dishwasher tablets to help meet customer demand.

Sainsbury's in Castle Court, Arnos Vale, Bristol, said it had been running low on table salt since the weekend, before finally selling out on Wednesday.

'Bright idea'

The store said cat litter was also proving popular with customers keen to combat the ice and snow.

The Asda supermarket chain said it had seen a 55% increase in sales of cat litter in 48 hours.

Matt Gibson, from Ben Burgess Garden Equipment in Norwich, said staff had the "bright idea" to use a shredder that is normally used for garden waste to crush dishwasher tablets.

Mr Gibson said the alternative grit was selling quickly.

"Hopefully it will keep us going until the next delivery comes in," he said.

Grit supplies are running low across the country

Government transport minister Sadiq Khan has insisted that "everything possible" was being done to keep the country's road network moving, after the government was accused of failing to learn from last February's snow chaos.

Cheshire's Winsford salt mine, the biggest supplier of rock salt in England, has said it only has a few days' supply of surface salt left.

After that it will be producing "hand to mouth" - bringing salt up from hundreds of metres underground.

Limited stocks have prompted Scarborough Council to use sand from the town's beach to grit residential areas, after being told to reserve salt for priority routes.

West Berkshire Council - which has been mixing its salt with sand grit to try and extend supplies - sent trucks to Cheshire on Thursday to pick up salt supplies after deliveries failed to arrive.

Mr Khan said the transport and highways industry was working hard to minimise the disruption caused by what he described as "exceptionally prolonged bad weather", and added the amount of salt stockpiled had exceeded recommended levels.

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