MIDDLESBROUGH'S gritting fleet is on stand-by as the first cold snap of the season approaches.

Middlesbrough Council's transport, environment and Streetscene teams have already been in action, with regular weather updates from the Meteo Group.

Last year the teams used around 3,200 tonnes of road salt during 60 planned gritting operations.

For the forthcoming winter season 4,000 tonnes are available in the barn at Cargo Fleet and, as in previous years, further stocks will be available from Boulby if required.

The gritter fleet remains at seven, with five vehicles for the Priority Routes and two spares on standby to cover breakdowns and maintenance or to provide additional cover in severe conditions.

Two new multi-purpose gritting vehicles are now in operation. These vehicles are fitted with removable hoppers so that they can be utilised for other purposes at the end of the winter season.

Salt bins will once again be deployed to ensure minor routes are kept clear, while extra resources will also be made available to ensure town centre roads and pavements remain safe and passable.

Middlesbrough boasts one of the fastest gritting times in the country, with the team able to cover roads on the borough's five gritting routes - a total distance of 180 miles - in just two hours.

Councillor Dennis McCabe, Middlesbrough Council's Executive member for Environment, said: "The world around us has changed in response to the global coronavirus, but clear, safe roads are just as important as they've ever been.

"As ever our first class crews are on stand-by around the clock to prepare we're ready for whatever the winter months have in store for us.

"The usual detailed planning and hard work will see all our major routes kept open, and ensure the town centre is ready for when shops and businesses are able to re-open in the run-up to Christmas."