Council highways team responds quickly  to ‘Beast from the East’ and ‘Storm Emma’

6 March 2018

The ‘Beast from the East’ came through Cheshire last week and the highways team at Cheshire East Council were ready for all it threw at the borough.

Snow began to fall in Cheshire East on Monday 26 February and highways teams clicked straight into gear, working round the clock to keep the network moving, while continually monitoring the weather conditions. 

Almost 1,900 tonnes of salt were used to treat the network’s roads after heavy snow and freezing temperatures took their toll. 

Major highways routes were gritted on 10 occasions along with hand gritting in town centres. Pavements were checked in areas of high footfall. Around 12,800km of road was treated last week in total. This involved a response from a team of 80 people over the week.

Our teams battled the lowest temperatures seen this winter, with the average overnight road surface temperature being -4.5C. 

Several roads were temporarily closed to allow for snow clearance in the interests of public safety. Some of the key roads affected were:

  • A523 Bosley-to-Leek road, which closed in the early hours of Friday 2 March and re-opened by lunchtime the same day;
  • B4570 Macclesfield-to-Whaley Bridge road, which closed in the early hours of Thursday 1 March and reopened on Saturday 3 March; and
  • A537 and A54 Cat and Fiddle Roads, which closed in the early hours of Wednesday 28 February and re-opened on Sunday 4 March.

Highways crews responded to the harshest conditions of snow drifts and sub-zero temperatures and worked tirelessly to maintain access to key routes for rural communities. A co-ordinated approach with local farmers and emergency services meant that roads were re-opened as soon as it was safe to do so.

The council operated an adverse weather desk for the arrival of Storm Emma on Friday 2 March, when there were 18 incidents involving fallen trees, which were all responded to. All trees on main roads were cleared that day, with a number of trees on minor roads tackled on Saturday 3 March.

Paul Traynor, Cheshire East Council’s strategic commissioning manager for highways, said: “It’s been a real battle over the last week, with the extremely unusual conditions for so late into the winter and I am grateful to residents for their patience as we’ve worked around the clock to deal with the impact of this severe weather.

“With excellent forward planning, we’ve managed to stay on top of everything that the two storms threw at us and I’m very grateful to the teams, who have worked all through the night to keep our roads moving and our residents safe.”

The Met Office has advised that the coming week will bring warmer temperatures to Cheshire East. Although weather conditions are forecast to improve, salt stocks are available if required and fresh deliveries of salt are planned. 

The harsh weather conditions seen last week are likely to impact on Cheshire East’s roads and may cause isolated areas of deterioration. The priority now is to return to routine duties, with pothole and road surface repair teams back in force this week.

To keep up to date with gritting operations, or to view gritting routes, follow highways on @CECHighways on Twitter or visit our winter service web page.

Any highways issues you spot can also be reported online at the highways report it page

Alternatively, the service can also be contacted on 0300 123 5020. 

Despite the severe weather conditions, the council’s waste collection services, operated by the authority’s wholly-owned company Ansa, continued to run all week, where safe access could be assured.

The authority is currently considering how to effectively manage returning to the properties in the Macclesfield and Congleton areas, which were missed last week.