Council team shows true grit to keep Monmouthshire roads clear

DEDICATED: Alun Thompson of Raglan with Argus reporter Kath Skellon

VITAL: One of Monmouthshire's gritters out today

First published in Gwent news

WHILE most people in Monmouthshire were fast asleep the council's gritting team at its three depots were working through the night to clear the roads.

With much of the county under up to eight inches of snow, the teams at Llanfoist have been working around the clock in shifts covering 300 miles of rural roads and towns distributing around 100 tonnes in 24 hours and villages giving me the chance to ride with driver Alun Thompson of Raglan, on one of five trucks.

I climbed into the impressive four-wheel drive, complete with a supply of salt, snow plough and computer technology which allows Alun to control the level of salt he distributes, and headed towards Govilon, along the Blaenavon Road towards the Keeper's Pond on the Blorenge Mountain.

With sub zero temperatures touching -2C and the road as yet unused, Alun navigated his way up the steep mountain in poor visibility, around the infamous Fiddler's Elbow, without the aid road markings.

Since he started his shift early this morning he has already driven the route several times but with the snow falling it’s a constant battle to clear the road.

Alun, who has been driving gritter trucks for 20 years, said when he's laying grit the truck can only travel at 10mph and makes this same journey in pitch black.

Despite our slow speed I felt nervous as reached the top of the mountain with little visibility and snow covered road but Alan, an experienced driver, handled the truck with ease and confidence, making me feel at ease immediately.

The Keeper's Pond marks the end of the run and we turn around and head back to the depot.

I returned with an even greater respect and admiration for the team who keep our roads safe and hospital routes clear.

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