Winter Services

How we prepare for winter and keep the network safe during very cold weather.

How we decide when to go gritting

Our highways team receive regular weather forecasts specifically for road surface temperatures each day so they can decide when the gritters need to go out across the MK road network. The weather forecast is used along with specialist computerised ice detection equipment which can check the current road temperature as this can be much lower than the forecasted air temperatures.

If frost, ice or snow is forecast then one of the following procedures are put into action.

  • Grit the grid roads and main access roads before the temperature drops
  • Grit minor roads and access roads to industrials estates, schools and health premises
  • Spray saline (salty water) onto key redway routes
  • If there is heavy snow, we may also plough the main roads

Where we will grit the roads, redways and footways

Depending on the level or duration of the icy or snowy weather we will arrange for our gritting crew to cover one of these routes. Please note - we don't grit privately owned (unadopted roads) which may include some of the newer estates. Highways England cover the M1 and A5.

Residential (estate) roads are not usually included in our gritting routes unless there is heavy, lying snow for a length of time. Salt bins are provided for residents to use to grit their own roads and footways (not private driveways or paths)

Priority 1 Routes

Include grid roads, bus routes and main access roads. These routes are salted every time frost, snow or ice is forecasted. We use 9 lorries each time we salt the priority 1 routes and it takes us 3 hours to complete. The salting is carried out at different times based on the daily weather reports. Where possible we try to do this outside peak times to minimise disruption.

Priority 1 Salting Routes Map (PDF, 1.1MB)

Priority 2 Routes

Includes access roads to health services, schools, retail and industrial areas. Priority 2 salting routes are salted when there is more extreme weather. The salting is normally carried out during the daylight hours and only when the priority 1 routes are clear. Priority 2 Salting Routes Map (PDF, 740KB)

Priority 3 Routes

Includes other roads not in routes 1 and 2.  We rarely cover these roads except in extreme cases when there is heavy snow for long periods.

Snow Ploughing Routes

In heavy snow conditions we will prioritise these roads to be ploughed e.g. access to the hospital. We will then plough the remaining Priority 1 routes.

Ploughs are only fitted to the gritters when the snow is at a minimum height otherwise it will damage both the plough and the road surface.

M1 and A5 roads

These roads are under the responsibility of Highways England and are cleared or gritted by them.

Priority Redways

During snow and/or prolonged periods of frost/ice, treatment of priority redways will be carried out.

Priority Footways

During heavy snow or lengthy periods of frost and ice we will use a saline (salty water) treatment which is sprayed on the surface by a customised small vehicle. We will only do this in city centre or high street locations.

City Centre Category 1 Footways (PDF 92kb)

Car Parks

City centre car parks and service roads will be gritted at the same time that the Priority 1 route are. Off street car parks will be treated as part of the Priority 2 route.

Salt Bins

There are over 400 salt bins (yellow or grey) located at various points across Milton Keynes. You may use the salt to prevent ice and snow forming on small areas of the road or pathways.

Salt (grit) is not provided for use on private driveways or private pathways. It may only be used on public footways and roads.

Be sparing with any application of salt. When correctly applied, 5kg is sufficient to prevent ice forming on 100 metres of road. 

You can check where your nearest grit bin is here:

 salt bin locations - roads list (PDF, 98KB) 

 salt bin location map (PDF, 531KB) 

Each year we inspect these grit bins and top up the rock salt. If there are any damaged ones these will be removed. As we don't have the budget for new grit bins, we will not replace any damaged grit bins that we remove. Parish councils may purchase grit bins to use in their local area however if these are being placed on the public highway they will need to get permission from us first.

Last Updated: 19 October 2021