Have you seen the gritters out and about?

You have? Excellent; that’s where they are supposed to be.

And according to a press release from Oor Cooncil, the main priority of keeping the local main road network clear has been achieved thanks to gritters and snow ploughs treating all 600 miles of main road four or fives times each day.

Hooray! But, hang on. You can’t argue with mathematics. By my reckoning, one gritter travelling at an average of only 25 mph for 24 hours would grit all 600 miles. To grit all the main roads four times a day would therefore take 4 vehicles.

Can you see where this is going?

In the same press release, Robert De Bold, Executive councillor for the Environment, informs us that there are 18 large gritters… So while the 4 gritters are working the main routes, where are the OTHER 14 gritters?

Not doing anything, must be the answer. It’s maths, mate.

And that’s not even bringing into play the 12 multipurpose vehicles and 30 mini tractors that our taxes paid for.

Oh, and by the council’s own figures there are 150 staff working to keep the county moving. Well, unless each of the four grittersw it takes to keep the main roads clear carries 37.5 workers; they seem to be missing in action, too.

What makes this even stranger is that I have seen the gritters out and about several times. And as one flew past me I waited for the rattle of grit hitting the side of my vehicle… nothing.

It was lit up at the front with a bank of bright lights that would fell a deer at 400 yards, and was covered in yellow flashing beacons as it sped along the A71. But it wasn’t dropping a grain of salt in its wake.


Since then, having seen others – again with all the paraphernalia and the lights – I followed them out of curiosity. Despite the temperature being well below freezing, they were most definitely not gritting. None of them.

So, what’s going on? Are we going to be shown the tacographs from these vehicles demonstrating that they have travelled thousands of miles during the mini West Lothian Ice Age? Probably.

Well, big deal. If they are not actually spreading grit then all they are doing is burning up fuel and making the mileage look good.

Instead of doing that they could be clearing the minor routes where there are still people who have been unable to move since the freeze began.

It’s just a suggestion.

So keep a look out. The next time you can’t believe you’ve actually spotted the hazard warning beacons of a gritter coming along your road, check if it’s actually doing anything.

Or if it’s just trundling along the road to keep up appearances.

Drew McAdam 


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