When your winter maintenance work means dealing with peaks, congested valley roads and notoriously changeable weather, it pays to be prepared. As a field team contractor for Ground Control looking after more than 80 sites in the Calderdale area near Halifax, the need to be ready for anything the weather throws at you is even greater.
It’s an area that’s had its fair share of high-profile weather events and lots of our sites are on really high ground in the surrounding moors, so when it snows, we really need to pull the stops out to service Ground Control’s clients, who we treat as if they were our own.
For nearly 10 years, we’ve been working with Ground Control, mainly on gritting and snow-ploughing. We look after all sorts of clients, from Arqiva transmission sites up on the moors, to supermarkets, warehouses and a number of Yorkshire Water locations. Some of these are huge, with up to two miles’ worth of footpaths and sizeable car parks to clear and grit, so I insist on the teams tackling these in pairs. That means we can get the jobs done quicker with two people on site, but it’s an important health and safety measure as well – they all carry walkie-talkies and they know they can always get hold of someone if they slip or need assistance.
This year, we’ve already had our first delivery of salt from Ground Control, which means we’ve got more than 20 nights’ worth in our storage bays. We came close to running out last year due to supplier issues, but it looks like that’s sorted out now and we can usually expect a delivery within five days of ordering.
Salt stocks are usually the least of our concerns. The biggest issue we have around here is the traffic, which can mean we don’t get to customers as quickly as we’d like. And when it snows, everyone wants you at their site at the same time, which is impossible. But we’re in constant communication with Ground Control so we can always let clients know if we’re delayed. And my family helps out too, letting me know which roads are bad so I know what it’s going to be like that night.
Now the nights have started drawing in, we’re edging ever closer to the start of the season and I have to admit, I’m looking forward to it. I love the work and so do the rest of the team. We take things in our stride and it doesn’t really feel like a job when you enjoy it. As for what to expect, I think it might be a long winter this season. I know last year was quite bad, but I’ve seen worse – it’s just people aren’t used to tough conditions anymore.
Thankfully, we’re well prepared, have fully-serviced vehicles, and plenty of salt, and are ready to go. There’s usually a bit of anticipation ahead of the first night of snow, but once you get that out of the way, you really get into the swing of things.