IT is the end of an era in Oldham as after years of service Oldham’s magnificent eight gritters have retired to the big depot in the sky.
It is the end of the road for Freddie Salted, Grittersaurus, Goliath, Walter the Salter, Gritterbug, Gritney Spears, Gritanator and Thor.
In the course of their duties they have clocked up more than 1.2 million miles, keeping the borough’s roads clear during the winter months.
In that time they have put down more than 20,000 tonnes of salt – around the same weight as 5,000 Asian elephants.
The local authority is keeping the newest member of the fleet, Nicole Saltslinger – a favourite with residents and the ‘gritterarati’.
So Nicole doesn’t feel all alone she’ll be joined by seven new gritters which are being hired.
And Oldham Council is asking young people across the borough to ‘prove their salt’ and come up with a name for each new addition to the team.
All you have to do is visit www.oldham.gov.uk/nameagritter and give your suggestions, along with your details. You can send in one name or as many as you want.
Once the winning entries have been chosen the gritter will be branded with its new name on the front of the cab, and winners will be invited along to be photographed with the machine they have named.
Residents will then be able to look out for the vehicles as they travel around the borough spreading grit and salt.
The competition is open to all school age children aged 16 and under, who either live in Oldham or attend a school in the borough. The closing date for entries is noon on Sunday, October 22.
Councillor Fida Hussain, Oldham Council’s Cabinet Member for Environmental Services, said: “Over the years our fleet of gritters have provided a great service.
“But due to wear and tear the time has come to replace them so they, and their drivers, can continue to play a vital role in helping to keep the borough moving during cold spells.
“Every time we’ve run a similar competition it has been well received. Last year more than 70,000 people engaged with us and some of the suggestions we had were fantastic.
“Although this has all been a bit of fun it also helped teach our young people about road safety and how we keep our roads safe in cold weather.”
As far as reasonably possible, the council keeps the primary highway network free of ice and snow at all times to help ensure a safe journey for commuters and residents.
Resources are initially directed to gritting seven priority routes, including the trans-Pennine roads and most of the principal, classified and major bus routes.
To keep residents fully informed of any developments the Oldham Council website – www.oldham.gov.uk/winter – will be updated continually and feature the latest news on school closures, gritting routes, locations of grit bins and grit sales.
The council’s First Response service will use its Twitter account @oldhamalert to inform followers of school and road closures or incidents.
These will also be retweeted for residents using the Council’s account @oldhamcouncil and updates will appear via the local media.