Friday 12 March 2010
APSE’s annual Highways and Street Lighting seminar took place over the last couple of days at Newcastle Marriot. The seminar incorporated ‘The Great Salt Debate’ which was a chance to look back at the problems with winter gritting this year from all perspectives. A debate between local authorities, grit suppliers and national agencies teased out some of the main issues that hindered services this winter and hopefully lessons have been learned that can be acted upon in order to avoid a repeat in future winters.
Being in the North East of England gave me a chance to catch up with colleagues in the school meals sector in that area. Colin Ranson from Sunderland Council and Anita Brown from Stockton brought me up to date with the latest issues around uptake and cost pressures.
Friday 13 March 2009
The 'Great Salt' debate takes place today at APSE's annual Highways and Street Lighting conference in Newcastle. With the worst conditions for 18 years this winter has been extremely demanding for those charged with keeping the country's roads moving, with the media debate raging about how close the nation came to running out of salt and grit and who was to blame for this.
I open the debate by contextualising what had taken place and Bob Ray of Cleveland Potash then follows on behalf of the suppliers. He had been at the Transport Select Committee at Westminster the day before and brought us up to speed with the thoughts of Ministers, Parliamentarians and National Agencies.
He is then followed by Derek Heap of Lancashire County Council who outlines what things had been like from a local authority perspective. Derek talked about how close they had come to running down their stock and what had been learned by this episode.
It's then time for a bit of audience participation and despite the fact it is late in the day, there is no holding them back, everyone wants to have their say.
In summary the debate concluded by identifying a number of lessons which should be considered by suppliers, Councils and Government departments and agencies to better address similar conditions in future.
These include -
• Better two way communication between councils and Local Resilience Teams / Government Regional Offices
• Customers ordering smaller amounts but more regularly
• Promote willingness to share supplies between councils
• Utilise APSE brokerage service
• Suppliers to prioritise communication with customers
• Guidance on mixing salt with grit, potash, re
fined salt and other additives and impacts of such mixing.