GRITTERS are loaded and on standby as ice and snow is predicted over the next 24 hours.

BCP Council says it is prepared and ready to help the most vulnerable if he weather takes a turn for the worse.

Road surfaces will be treated along key routes and gritting teams will prioritise routes to vaccination centres.

The Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) has been activated meaning the homeless will be encouraged to seek shelter from the elements whilst temperatures remain below freezing.

Gallery: Remembering when Dorset was covered with snow 10 years ago

And social care services are liaising with vulnerable people and have put in place measures to ensure care support services are maintained throughout the cold spell.

Council Leader, Councillor Drew Mellor, said: "Council services are well versed and fully prepared to deal with severe weather episodes and this weekend is no exception. The most important priority is to ensure we are looking after the most vulnerable and we are maintaining our road networks for essential services still needing to travel. This includes helping people get safely to where they are receiving their vaccination.

Snow and ice warnings issued for Dorset and New Forest

"May I remind you that in light of the pandemic we should of course all be staying home anyway and only travelling for absolutely essential reasons. With snow potentially forecast as well this weekend, there should be very little reason for anyone to be out and about. Please take care and stay well."

The Met Office has issued a Cold Weather Alert Level 2 – Yellow Warning - in relation to this weekend’s expected weather for the south. Ice will be widespread and snow is expected on high ground whilst at this time a degree of uncertainty still exists around anticipated the coast.

In the event of snow disruption, updates will be posted at bcpcouncil, and on the council’s social media.