WE'VE reached the middle of February so spring can’t be too far away, but the recent cold snap reminds us that we’re still in winter’s grip.

With the possibility of sub-zero temperatures for at least another two months it’s good to know that our superb gritting teams are on hand to ensure your safety on the roads.

Our highways team pre-salts 525 kilometres of the county’s roads, comprising over a third of the total network.

All major roads are treated as well as crucial rural and urban routes with crews working from our three depots at Raglan, Crick and Llanfoist.

We have 15 dedicated four-wheel drive vehicles, varying in size and capability which will last for 15 years with appropriate maintenance.

Our winter highways programme involves much dedicated planning.

It runs from October 1 to April 30, so we must have sufficient salt available by early autumn.

Each year we’re prepared with a stock of more than 7,000 tonnes with the option to top up during the season, but salt is considerably more expensive during the winter.

As many as 7,450 tonnes of salt were spread during the bitterly cold winter of 2010/11 but since then we have used an average annual 2,300 tonnes.

Typically, we pre-salt our network at least 80 times in a season.

The decision to treat our roads is made by experienced senior highways engineers who study the weather forecast and geographical conditions before alerting the gritting teams.

The night’s action is published at noon and shared with neighbouring authorities, emergency services and social media.

While our winter highways programme is in place a dozen gritting staff are on permanent call with 24 people sharing this duty.

Further staff are available for emergencies such as traffic accidents and fallen trees.

During severe weather like that experienced in Monmouthshire on the second weekend of December it’s all hands to the deck and we’re able to call on our grounds and waste and recycling teams as well as agricultural contractors to clear snow.

More than 60 workers were involved working around the clock to clear December’s snow and this committed teamwork meant we ensured that the most vulnerable in our communities were able to receive care and food with the county’s roads cleared in a relatively short time.

Hopefully, by the time I present my next column in four weeks’ time we’ll be enjoying milder conditions but meanwhile, whatever we’re subjected to weather-wise, you can rest assured that our professional highways crews will work conscientiously as usual to keep our roads open.