CONCERNS that BCP Council did not have enough snow ploughs ahead of winter have prompted it to spend an extra £35,000 on keeping two vehicles it had planned to get rid of.

According to a cabinet report, the shortage of vehicles was discovered during preparation of gritting routes for the coming months.

In order to ensure it has enough vehicles to manage the area’s main roads, the council has postponed plans to dispose of two gritters for a year.

Cabinet members will consider the issue, part of the council’s severe weather plan, at their meeting on Wednesday (September 11).

“Two additional vehicles have been retained (for one year only) to ensure capabilities to deliver 12 routes,” the report said.

“This follows the identification of the need to source a shortfall in gritters to cover the wider network with only one vehicle transferring from Dorset Council as part of asset disaggregation.”

The report added that the cost of retaining the vehicles and maintaining them for an extra year had been estimated at £35,000.

Road maintenance priorities outlined in the plan for this winter are all A roads, access to Poole Port, Bournemouth Airport, emergency service centre, hospitals and the link to the A31.

The council has a £233,000 budget for its provision of winter services this year.

The report said a review of its services would be carried out for how it manages the work in the long-term with this year being an “interim” plan.

Consideration of council preparation for the winter weather comes as researchers at University College London have warned that the country could see a return to weather similar to that of the 2018 ‘Beast from the East’.

Studying current weather systems and patterns over the Atlantic, they said there was a 57 per cent chance temperatures in the coming winter would be below those experienced in 2017 and 2018.

They said Arctic conditions could move towards the UK, bringing several weeks of freezing temperatures and snowy and icy conditions.

Professor Mark Saunders said this would lead to the winter being the coldest since 2013 and January and February 2020 being the seventh coldest period in 30 years.