Winter services

Read our Winter Services - Mini Guide to find out how we keep the network safe throughout the winter months.

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 (H6 and V6 super routes only)
  • 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. National Highways (formerly 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).

We do not salt the footways in residential areas but residents may use the salt in the grit bins to cover these instead. We do hand salt local high streets and around CMK shopping areas.

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 nine lorries each time we salt the priority 1 routes and it takes us three 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 2 Routes

Includes access roads to health services, schools, retail and industrial areas. Priority 2 salting routes are salted as per our Winter Service Plan and usually when the weather is more severe. The salting is normally carried out when the Priority 1 routes are clear and there are sufficient resources.

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 National Highways (formerly Highways England) and are cleared or gritted by them.

Priority Redways

During snow and/or prolonged periods of frost/ice, treatment of priority 'super route' redways (H6 and V6) will be carried out. Brine is sprayed across the surface rather than rock salt. This is a more effective way of covering the surface as rock salt requires traffic regularly moving over it to crush and spread it across the road.

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.

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

Find out which roads are gritted and when and the location of your nearest grit bin using the 'Winter Maintenance' option on our MyMKMapping tool.

For more about grit bins and how parish councils can order one, read our Grit Bin Guide 2023

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, one tablespoon of salt is enough to cover a metre square of surface.

You can check where your nearest grit bin is using our interactive My MK Mapping tool. Check the box on the left called 'Winter Maintenance'. Any grit bin locations will be shown on the map with a G in a yellow box.

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 or install any new ones. 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. Parish council grit bins must be green. Any costs to top up the grit bin must be covered by the parish and the asset belongs to them and not MKCC highways.