Your front page article (Observer, March 14, ‘Where Were The Gritters?’) claims on the evening of Monday, March 11, there was ‘not a gritter in sight’ and ‘gritters had abandoned the area’.
This is inaccurate. West Sussex County Council’s contractor Balfour Beatty responded swiftly to the prediction of snow on Sunday, March 10.
All 21 routes we are responsible for maintaining, including the A286 between Cocking Hill and Lavant, were gritted from 6pm on March 10, 8am, 1pm and 8pm on March 11, and 2am, 8am, 1pm and 8pm on March 12.
Unfortunately there was gridlock in some areas, in particular around steep hills and in more exposed locations where high winds blew drifts of snow onto the roads. That is where the problems occurred.
There were two reasons for this. The first is that wind blew snow over the grit, which hampered its effectiveness.
The second problem was that once one or two cars got stuck it blocked up the roads behind, stopping traffic from getting through and delaying the gritters on their journey.
Where motorists were stranded, we worked closely with our partners at Sussex Police, West Sussex Fire and Rescue, and the Highways Agency to help them as quickly as we could.
This was particularly the case further east in the county on the Highways Agency maintained roads the A23 and M23.
Again, we would like to reassure people that our gritters work continuously whenever we are struck by this kind of extreme weather.
Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport
West Sussex County Council