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Severe weather event response plan
The County Council is the highway authority in East Sussex and is responsible for the maintenance, repair and management of all other adopted roads and footways within the County except certain trunk roads that come under the remit of the Department for Transport.
Following the severe weather during the winter of 2009/10 the County Council's Winter Service Plan was reviewed to provide some support for Borough and District Councils by providing salt for pedestrianised and shopping areas but remains limited in its capacity beyond that.
As a consequence, Hastings Borough Council has put in place arrangements to support the community in those areas not sufficiently addressed by the County Council's plan. It is important to emphasise that our resources are also limited and it is not possible to guarantee that in very severe weather conditions we will be able to deliver complete coverage or respond to all demands for assistance.
Download the Severe weather event response plan
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Weather forecast for Hastings
This Weather Widget is provided by the Met Office
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Rubbish and recycling collections
If there is severe snow and ice and we have not collected your rubbish, please check our news page before contacting us as this will be updated showing areas affected by the weather together with details of when we hope to reach them.
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School closures and transport disruption
Visit www.eastussex.gov.uk for information about school closures and transport disruption.
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Visit www.eastsussex.gov.uk to find out whether a road or part of a road is on a gritting route. The system cannot say if a road has been gritted.
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East Sussex County Council are primarily responsible for gritting the roads in and around Hastings and St Leonards. These Frequently Asked Questions address the main queries that come up every year.
Why don't you grit my road?
Not all roads can be gritted, but the County Council has a list of primary roads that are gritted, which gives priority to the busiest roads in order to avoid the most serious accidents. This includes the major A, B and about 75% of C roads, some 860 miles or 42% of the total road network. During snow and very severe icy conditions an additional 130 miles of road (known as secondary roads) is treated, giving a total coverage of about 49% of the road network. Minor rural and urban roads are left to thaw naturally.
Priority is given to roads leading to:
- hospitals, fire, ambulance and police stations
- bus and railway stations and other public transport stations
- main shopping areas, schools etc
- difficult sites (very steep hills etc)
When will my road be gritted?
If your road is not on the primary or secondary road list it will not be gritted.
The gritters treat the roads to try and stop frost and ice forming before temperatures fall below freezing.
The gritting process is scheduled based on the weather forecast. Where possible the gritting operation will occur after the evening peak hours, or before the morning peak hours.
Can I see a map of the roads that will be gritted?
There is a map of roads that will be gritted during severe snow and ice. It will show the primary roads that will be gritted, and you can search by postcode to check the roads relevant to your journey. Some secondary roads may also be gritted, once primary roads are completed, but these are not shown on the map.
Why has one side of the road been gritted but not the side that my house is on?
The gritter only needs to drive along one side of the road, as the salt spreading mechanism is designed to deliver the salt across the full width of the road.
Why was your gritter going along the road but not treating it?
The gritters follow a detailed route, so that they can grit the primary roads within a specific area. When designing this detailed route, the length of road that the gritter can treat when it has been fully loaded with salt is taken into account. To maximise efficiency and reduce the time taken to salt the roads, the gritter has to travel across some intersecting roads to be able to salt the primary roads. It is not feasible to salt these intersecting roads as the gritter would not have sufficient salt to treat the primary roads.
The gritter may be empty and returning to the depot after completing its run.
When the gritter lorry is using snow ploughs, salt is not always applied.
Why don't you grit pavements?
Footpaths or pavements are not routinely salted or gritted. The priority is major roads rather than pavements to prevent the most serious accidents. Hand salting of pavements will only be carried out if staff and equipment become available, with pavements in main shopping areas and busy urban areas treated as a priority. Householders and businesses are encouraged to help themselves by clearing snow and ice from public areas near their properties.
Can we have a grit bin?
There are over 750 bins spread around the county and additional ones will not be provided. However, the County Council is working with district and borough councils, residents' associations and businesses to review the locations of grit bins, particularly where these organisations may wish to purchase additional bins.
When do you fill grit bins?
All the grit bins are inspected and filled in the autumn. If there is snow, the bins will only be re-filled if staff and equipment become available to undertake the work. The salt should be used very sparingly, as it does not aid grip but is supplied to assist in preventing the formation of ice and melting of snow. It is provided for use only on public roads and pavements, and should not be used or transported anywhere else. Grit bins are not filled on demand.
I'm not on the main gritting route but have an emergency. Can you come out and grit my road?
If there is a real emergency and there is a request to provide assistance by the emergency services, the road will be gritted.
Can I buy grit or salt from you?
The County Council does not provide salt to private individuals or businesses. Rock salt can be obtained from some builders' merchants and DIY stores.
My relative has run out of food and can't get to the shops. Can you grit their road?
The County Council does not have the resources to respond to individual requests to salt roads. Should anyone need advice or information on the support available for a vulnerable adult, they should contact Social Care Direct on 0345 60 80 191.
Who is liable if I slip on an untreated pavement or I have an accident on an untreated road?
If an accident occurs on either an untreated pavement or road, the individual concerned must prove that the County Council is liable. There is no automatic right to compensation and all claims will be treated as an insurance claim and assessed on the basis of the County Council's legal responsibilities. Any claimant must be prepared to prove in a Court of Law that the County Council's winter maintenance policy was not reasonably practical.
If someone wishes to pursue a claim, details of the incident can be provided to the Highways Contact Centre on 0345 60 80 193 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Should I grit the pavement outside my house?
Householders and businesses are encouraged to clear snow and ice from public areas near their properties during periods of severe winter weather. People are also encouraged to assist neighbours' who may not be able to clear snow and ice themselves.
If I grit the pavement outside my house and someone slips can they sue me?
The prospect of a person, who has cleared snow from their pavement, being successfully sued by someone who has subsequently slipped on that pavement is very small. However, the snow-clearer has a duty to ensure that they clear the pavement with reasonable care so that they do not create a new or worse risk. As long as, in clearing the pavement, the resident has improved the condition of the pavement and made it safer to walk on than before it was cleared, they should not be liable if someone slips.
A gritter sprayed onto my car and has caused damage. What can I do?
The size of rock salt grit used is very small (6mm grading) and extremely light and not very dense, so is unlikely to cause damage to vehicles. However, should a driver wish to pursue a claim then details should be provided to the Highways Contact Centre on 0345 60 80 193 or email email@example.com. This will then be forwarded to our contractor who is responsible for the manner in which the gritting operations are carried out.
How can I find out whether buses will be running as normal with the ice on the road?
Bus companies are responsible for determining whether they are prepared to run a service. You will need to contact the bus company responsible for the route to determine if they are running the service.
How do I find out if schools are open?
- Listen to your local radio station
- Subscribe to the email system or RSS alerts on eastsussex.gov.uk/schoolclosurealert for individual school closures
- visit www.eastsussex.gov.uk
- Your child's school website should carry information about closures
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Cold weather service from East Sussex Energy Partnership
A Winter Home Check service is available for vulnerable households.
Visit our Energy Efficiency pages for further information.
How can I best heat my home?
Keep your home at the recommended temperature of 18 to 21C (64 to 70F). If you cannot heat all the rooms you use, heat the living room during the day and the bedroom just before you go to bed.
Visit www.nhs.uk for further information.
How elderly people can stay warm
If bills are an issue, older people might have to live and sleep in one room and it's preferable to get help moving a bed into the living room rather than sleeping in an armchair. Keep curtains drawn and doors closed to block out draughts.
Visit www.ageuk.org.uk for further information.
Take care not to block air vents or grilles even if you feel a draught coming through them and make sure radiators and heaters are not blocked by furniture or covered by curtains
Draughtproof your front door with a well-fitting curtain and fix draughtproofing strips to windows and the bottom of external doors. Leave a small section untreated around windows to let in fresh air.
Attach plastic film or sheeting to the window frame and seal gaps between floorboards and around skirting boards with sealant or thin wooden strips.
Visit www.homeheathelpline.org.uk for further information.
What can I do to look after my family?
Try to have regular hot drinks and at least one hot meal a day.
Keep as active as possible. Age UK urges older people to get their circulation going with housework or walking to the shops. Those with difficulty walking should keep moving arms and legs and wiggle fingers and toes.
Wrap up warm if you need to go outside on cold days. Wear several light layers of warm clothes, rather than one chunky layer. Clothes made of wool, cotton or fleecy synthetic fibres are usually warmer.
At night, use a hot water bottle or an electric blanket to warm up your bed. Never use the two together as it can be dangerous.
Check up on friends, relatives and neighbours, particularly the elderly and people with serious illnesses.
People with heart or respiratory problems may have worse symptoms during a cold spell and for several days after temperatures return to normal.
Visit www.nhs.uk and www.ageuk.org.uk for further information.
What can I do to look after my home?
If you're going away for a few days, set your central heating to come on twice a day at a low temperature to avoid freezing and burst pipes.
Put grit or cat litter on paths and driveways to lessen the risk of slipping.
If your boiler is located in an outhouse or garage, it is more susceptible to freezing temperatures at night when off. British Gas recommends having a frost thermostat valve fitted, which automatically switches it on if the temperature drops dramatically.
Visit www.britishgas.co.uk and www.metoffice.gov.uk for further information.
Are there any benefits I can claim to help with bills?
Some pensioners, people on income support, those with disabilities and certain carers may be entitled to a cold weather payment. These one-off payments are made automatically when the average temperature is recorded as, or forecast to be, 0C (32F) or below over seven consecutive days. People aged 60 or over who normally live in the UK are also eligible for a tax-free annual winter fuel payment. This is usually paid from November and the amount varies. If you have not had the payment before and are not getting a state pension or another benefit (apart from housing benefit, council tax benefit or child benefit), the payment will not be automatic. You can apply by calling 08459 151 515 or visit www.direct.gov.uk.
What can I do to keep my car running?
Driving in severe winter weather poses many challenges but there are ways to keep your car on the road and moving.
Ensure your tyres are inflated correctly and that you have a minimum of 3mm of tread on your tyres to cope with wet and slippery conditions.
Batteries run down more quickly in the cold so make sure to top them up or trickle-charge them.
When starting the engine, depress the clutch as this will reduce drag on the engine and preserve the battery.
Keep topped up with screenwash and use a proper additive at the right concentration to prevent it freezing.
Keep your fuel tank topped up - if you are caught out, you will have enough fuel to make it home or run the engine to keep warm.
Clear all snow and ice from the windscreen before driving. Do not use water to de-ice windscreens. Hot water can crack the glass, and the water will only freeze again on the screen or on the ground where you're standing.
A squirt of WD-40 will prevent your door locks freezing up.
What should I take on car journeys in case I get stranded?
Always pack a warm coat, hat, gloves, sturdy boots and a blanket to keep you warm if you get stuck.
Take some food such as chocolate or biscuits, water and a hot drink if you can.
Always carry a fully-charged mobile, some old bits of carpet or cat litter to put under the tyres when stuck and a shovel to clear snow.
Jump leads, a first aid kit and a torch may also come in handy.
Clearing snow and ice
There is no law preventing you from clearing snow and ice on the pavement outside your property, pathways to your property or public spaces.
It is very unlikely that you would face any legal liability, as long as you are careful, and use common sense to ensure that you do not make the pavement or pathway more dangerous than before. People using areas affected by snow and ice have responsibility to be careful themselves.
East Sussex County Council's Highways department offers the following advice:
- Start early: it is much easier to remove fresh, loose snow rather than compacted ice that has been compressed by people walking on it
- Do not use hot water. This will melt the snow, but may replace it with black ice, increasing the risk of injury
- Be a good neighbour: some people may be unable to clear snow and ice on paths leading to, or fronting their property. Snowfall and cold weather can make gaining access to and from a property or walking to the shops extremely difficult
- If shovelling snow, think about where you are putting it so that it does not block paths or drains, shifting the problem elsewhere
- Make a pathway down the middle of the area to be cleared first, so you have a clear surface to walk on, then you can shovel the snow from the centre to the sides
- Spreading salt on the area you have cleared will help to prevent ice forming. Table salt or dishwasher salt will work, but avoid spreading on plants or grass as it may damage them. A few grams (a tablespoon) for each square metre you clear should work. The salt found in salting bins should mainly be used to keep roads clear
- Particular care and attention should be given to steps and steep gradients to ensure snow and ice is removed. You might need to apply additional salt to these areas
- Use the sun to your advantage. Removing the top layer of snow will allow the sun to melt any ice beneath but you will need to cover any ice with salt to stop it refreezing overnight
- If there is no salt available, a little sand or ash is a reasonable substitute. It will not have the same de-icing properties as salt but should offer grip under foot