Page last updated at 13:00 GMT, Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Salt of Ayrshire inside the dome

The tractor re-fills gritter trucks from salt in the snow dome
More salt is expected over the next few days, to top-up supplies

The tractor groans and squeaks as it moves supplies of salt around, inside the snow dome at East Ayrshire council's depot near the village of Galston.

The dome - 33 meters (100ft) in diameter - was built to keep stocks dry, and stop salt leaching away.

Not that supplies are staying in the depot long enough for that to be a danger, at the moment.

"We've been gritting continuously for the past four weeks" said John Bryson, head of roads and transportation for East Ayrshire council.

John Bryson - Head of Roads for East Ayrshire
John Bryson is head of roads for East Ayrshire Council

"We've put down about 7,000 tonnes of salt in that time."

"That's equivalent to what we'd use in a full, normal winter. In fact, it's twice the amount we were having to put down just a few years ago."

As much of Scotland gets back to work or school after the Christmas and New Year break, that work goes on.

"We will be doing as we have been doing", John Bryson added.

"We'll concentrate first on the main roads, priority roads, and bus routes, to try to get them clear."

"As normal volumes of traffic start running on the roads, that may actually help our gritting crews. The cars and lorries will help the salt we've put down to break up the ice and snow that is there."

But he denied any suggestion that meant the council expected members of the public to do the job of snow ploughs.

"Our trucks have been out, ploughing and scraping the roads. And there is a significant quantity of salt down", he said.

Gritter lorries at the depot
Gritter trucks have been out continuously for the past four weeks

"But the extremely low temperatures mean the salt is struggling to melt the ice and snow. Traffic running on the roads, hopefully, will help in that de-icing process."

Other Scottish councils - notably Fife - have complained in recent days that they came close to running out of salt altogether.

Mr Bryson said East Ayrshire has been getting fresh supplies, with more expected in the next day or so.

"We've obviously been monitoring stocks very closely over the festive period", he said.

"And we've been working with our suppliers to get deliveries through. But we haven't been getting the full orders that we placed."

"Our suppliers are obviously under a lot of pressure, as well, because of the amount of salt that's been used over the past four weeks."

"But we are trying to make sure we've got enough salt to grit our main priority routes."

He said the council - like others across the country - realised minor routes and residential roads remain difficult.

"I'd like to thank the public for their perseverance and patience during what has been a very challenging time for all roads authorities."

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Great Yarmouth Mercury More snow on the way - 4 hrs ago
Daily Record Snow and freezing temperatures cause chaos for transport and schools - 17 hrs ago
The Courier Additional supplies of grit arrive at depots - 34 hrs ago
Herald Scotland Councils battle with demand for grit to keep roads open - 38 hrs ago

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