Monday, 29 November 2010

The Great 'Grit Bin' Question.

Monday 29th November

There are a number of you - a significant number of you - who, given this week's cold snap have understandably enquired about the status of the County Council's cold weather preparations and in particular the 'Grit Bin' question, so herewith the most recent update.

Grit preparations are in full swing – as part of the County Council’s
preparations for winter, the highways team is working their way around
Surrey to make sure all the grit bins the authority is responsible for are
filled ahead of any severe weather. There are 1,500 county council grit
bins across Surrey and the authority is encouraging local people to use
them to grit roads and pavements in their communities to help keep Surrey
moving during snow or severe cold snaps. However, residents are urged only
to take as much grit as they need so everyone is able to benefit. In
addition to filling the county’s grit bins, the council has ordered 13,000
tonnes of salt – 50% more than last year – to combat the effects of any
cold winter weather on Surrey’s roads. The order is expected to be filled
within weeks. Some of the extra salt will allow the council to treat an
additional 21 miles of roads which equates to around 1,100 miles of
gritting runs across an average winter.

Following the members Cabinet meeting, the decision was made that, within
the winter service budget, no provision would be available for new grit
bins on the network. The County Council is establishing a scheme where
Cllrs, parish councils, residents etc can buy a grit bin for £2500 one off payment. This will cover installation, repair and maintenance and 1 fill a year for 10 years.

Therefore, regrettably the only option this winter in terms of funding new/additional bins on the highway is this £2500 option - which secures the bin, 10 annual refills and a suitable location, agreed in liaison with the area community highway officer in order that any siting of a new bin is not deemed hazardous
and/or inaccessible. However, as with everything at the County Council at present, it once again comes down to this matter of cost. I'll keep you all informed as to any movement on this, but the latest position - and it is far from accpetable in my opinion - is that 'bin location' will be looked at in the Spring.

In the meantime, and at £4 a bag, I'm off down to the builder's merchants to stock up on a few bags of sharp sand.


  1. On the SCC website it says the bins purchased for £2500 will only be filled ONCE a year not ten times. A quick google reveals that a decent sized grit bin requiring about a quarter of a ton of grit can be bought for under £100. As councils buy grit in huge bulk (although not huge enough it seems...) they pay about £25 per tonne ie. the material cost of refilling is about £6. Throw in the additional cost of transport/distribution of the grit, installation of the bin and occaisional replacement/maintenance and it would be hard to see how the 10 year cost of a bin could be more than 6 or 700 hundred quid. Quite how Surrey County Council can charge £2500 is beyond comprehension. The only rational explanation is that they are astonishly inefficient or they are being ripped off, or they are ripping us taxpayers off. Or maybe a combination of all three. What do you think ?

  2. I can't actually see anyone going for the £2500 option myself. A recent like for like quote for a half ton bin, 10 fills and a spreader came in at about £1300 when I did it.

    Fear not - there will be a review of the entire grit bin policy in the spring.