You might have spotted the dedicated Road crews who have been out across North Ayrshire with their snowploughs – before there is even a hint of snow in the air.

North Ayrshire Council undertook its annual ‘dry run’ to ensure its fleet of snow clearing and gritting vehicles are well prepared in advance of the winter weather.

The test run enables staff to carry out essential preparatory checks on equipment and vehicles, as well as familiarise themselves with gritting routes.

Councillor Jim Montgomerie, Cabinet Member for Green New Deal and Sustainability, said: “This is an invaluable exercise which allows the team to make sure they are well-positioned to deal with both ice and snowfall.

“We take our responsibility as Roads Authority very seriously and put in an enormous amount of effort to ensure that priority roads and footways are kept clear and safe during winter.

“Despite the additional challenges presented throughout the pandemic, our Roads team has continued delivering vital services for our communities and residents. Whilst these challenges are ongoing, I’m confident the team’s robust plans and dedication to keeping our roads safe and clear put us in a good position to tackle another winter in the pandemic.”

A squad of 35 drivers and 15 multi-purpose vehicles will be available 24/7 to keep the area’s priority routes in use throughout winter.

These round-the-clock measures will be in place from late October right through to mid-April.

Staff will also be on-call over weekends and public holidays from November to February to help treat main footways in the event of ice and frost.

Arrangements are also in place with local contractors and farmers to call upon their assistance in case of severe weather conditions.

Some 7,000 tonnes of road salt is currently stocked at the council’s mainland storage depot in Kilwinning and will be taking delivery of a further 2,400 tonnes to be stockpiled at the depot at Brodick in Arran.

Salt is also stored at strategic points throughout the area for use by residents. There are approximately 500 grit bins and 15 larger community bins from which residents can collect salt for personal use on roads, driveways, or footpaths.

Weather forecasts are relayed three times a day – morning, noon, and night – to the roads team who use the information to determine whether or not a snow or ice alert is issued.

The weather stations on the A760 at Catburn, between Largs and Kilbirnie, and the String Road on Arran are fitted with cameras, which will assist Winter Controllers and Supervisors in monitoring weather conditions.

Click here for updates on gritting decisions, where to find your nearest grit bin, and advice on clearing snow and ice from public footways.