Our Services - Winter service

Winter maintenance service

The winter gritting season runs from 1st October until 30th April. Throughout this period our team are on standby 24hrs a day.

We have a fleet of 21 gritters and 2 spares and 48 fully trained gritter drivers. We schedule our gritters based on weather forecasts and road surface temperatures. A vehicle tracking system is installed in each gritter so that we can track the progress of our winter maintenance operations at all times. There are also 24 local farmers and contractors on call with snow ploughs to assist during periods of heavy snow fall.

In preparation for winter, we inspect and fill all East Sussex County Council owned grit bins once a year, in the autumn. We stock approximately 10,000 tonnes of dry rock salt (not grit) which is stored at our 5 depots located in Ringmer, Heathfield, Polegate, Cripps Corner and Maresfield. During snow fall we deliver hippo bags of salt to 51 agreed sites across the County for local communities to self help.

Operation Snowdrop

Each year during September we carry out Operation Snowdrop, which is a test run of all our gritting routes. This ensures we can get any overgrown hedges cut back, contact residents about parked cars that may be in the way, and ensure that all drivers are familiar with their routes.

How does gritting work?

Grit is another name for rock salt. It helps to keep our roads safe by reducing the risk of ice. Salt lowers the temperature at which water freezes, helping to prevent ice or frost forming on the carriageway.

However, if temperatures fall below -10 degrees centigrade, salt generally loses its effectiveness.

Salt will not melt ice or snow straight away. It takes time for the salt to mix with the snow and ice and melt it. However, cars driving over the snow and ice will speed up the process as it mixed the salt in faster.

How can I keep up to date?

All gritting decisions are published on social media, Twitter and Facebook, as soon as possible. These updates can also be seen on the homepage of the East Sussex Highways website.

  • Check the weather forecast - you can check for weather warnings via the Met Office. You can also find further winter advice from the Met Office.
  • Check your route is clear and gritting decisions via @esccroads or local radio stations.
  • Don't travel in poor conditions unless it's essential.

Our Winter Service Plan can be found here:

Winter Service Plan