THE council says its gritters have already used more salt than the whole of last year's winter already.

Last winter saw the council treat priority routes 40 times using approximately 1,214 tonnes of salt and covering 17,240km of adopted highway.

These numbers are set to be blown out of the water this winter with gritters already using more than last year’s total of salt after heading out 25 times.

Frontline teams have emptied 290,000 bins over the Christmas period and gritted 10,000km of highway since October.

Faced with tough conditions over the festive period and since the start of the year, waste collection crews and gritting teams are battling icy roads and increased numbers of cars outside homes making routes more time consuming.

The size of the task has been exacerbated this winter with the council’s winter maintenance team already spreading more than 1,250t of salt on the roads and filling 1,000 grit bins located across the borough.

While waste crews have now caught up with all the rounds affected by the weather in the days after Christmas. Hundreds of staff have been part of a huge effort as teams dealt with close to 10 per cent more waste compared to last year. On three days the council calculated that more than double of a particular waste stream was collected than normal at this time of year.

Cllr Paul Prescott, Wigan Council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “I can’t thank our teams enough for their commitment and hard work battling not just adverse weather but the lockdown too. This is particularly tricky for our waste crews who are dealing with increased loads and more parked cars on the street with more people at home.

“They are doing everything they can to ensure bin collections are completed under what are really challenging circumstances.

“I would like to thank residents for their patience and understanding over the last few weeks which have proved tricky. We are doing all we can to ensure critical services are delivered while we are all being asked to stay at home.”

To ensure that work could be carried out staff from other areas have been redeployed to assist with collections and crews have worked on Saturdays and Mondays to minimise the backlog.

Residents are advised to leave out their bins if their collection is missed.

Cllr Prescott added: “Every year our maintenance teams do a tremendous job keeping our priority routes clear, responding around the clock when temperatures plummet.

“Our 10 council gritting trucks are ready to go in the event of bad weather but please plan your journeys and think ahead if you do need to travel in tricky conditions.”

The council has already replaced salt in all of the borough’s grit bins twice. The bins are only replenished during and immediately after periods of adverse weather. We ask residents to be mindful of others when using them and to not misuse salt for the treatment of private driveways.

Applications for grit bins can be made online but there is a set of criteria that people should be aware of before getting in touch.