Surrey County Council has signed up an army of farmers to clear roads and a fleet of 4×4 vehicles to help the vulnerable during severe winter weather.
This year an additional 15 farmers have been enlisted to use tractors and ploughs to clear snow-covered routes for drivers, taking the total number to 50.
Surrey County Council Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment Ian Lake said: “Our 40-plus gritters and ploughs will be doing everything possible to keep Surrey moving in bad weather but they can’t treat every road in Surrey, which is why the support farmers provide is so important.
“We’ve got even more farmers working with us this year and they’ll be focusing their efforts on keeping disruption caused by ice and snow in rural areas to a minimum.”
Arable farmer Ray Simmons, of East Flexford Farm, near Wanborough, and his son Jim are ready to send four ploughs out in the Waverley and Guildford areas, including on the Hogs Back, to unclog snow-hit roads.
Mr Simmons said: “Obviously there was more snow last year than normal and we were out a lot on the roads and then clearing car parks at schools. You want to be out there early before people in vehicles crush it down and make it harder to clear.
“We keep an eye on the weather and prepare well. We make sure the tractors’ fuel tanks are full up and we keep everything under cover so we’re ready to go as soon as we’re needed because it’s not good trying to do that when there’s snow.”
Malcolm Mott, of Fairchildes Farm, Chelsham, has two ploughs ready to go out in Tandridge, covering areas around Warlingham and Oxted.
Mr Mott said: “We have got everything in place and are ready to go. I like to get out to shift snow before vehicles flatten it on roads. We can do six to eight hours at a time, depending on conditions. Last year was hectic because the snow drifted back on to the road from fields.”
The county council has also joined forces with charity Surrey 4×4 Response, whose volunteers use their vehicles to help vulnerable people in bad weather. Other organisations, including British Red Cross, also work with the county council to help Surrey through extreme weather.
Surrey 4×4 Response volunteer Adam Collier said: “We have around 70 active volunteers and we’re delighted to be teaming up with the county council to support communities should this winter’s weather prove to be as harsh as the last. In snowy and icy conditions we will continue to help the council transport key staff to help keep frontline services running, when standard two-wheel drive vehicles simply won’t do.”
The authority has been planning for months to help keep Surrey moving in the event of ice and snow. Grit bins have been provided so residents can treat local roads and pavements and plans have been put in place so council services continue for the most vulnerable.
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Notes for editors
Surrey4x4 Response is available 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. More information on Surrey 4×4 Response or how to volunteer can be found at www.surrey4x4response.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The council has launched a twitter feed in partnership with BBC Surrey to provide residents with updates on gritting activity, roadworks, road closures and traffic information. It can be found @surreytravel.
More information on winter preparations can be found at www.surreycc.gov.uk/highwaysinfo.