Winter Maintenance Operations and Policy


The last week has seen a recurrence of wintery conditions across the Western Isles and the Comhairle wishes to remind communities and households in the islands of its current policy on gritting and snow-clearing.

Members of the public are reminded that, under the current policy, gritting operations will not start until 0600 with the highest priority routes (Priority 1 and Priority 2) to be completed by 0730 and 0830 respectively with the lower priority routes (Priority 3 and Priority 4) being treated by 0930 and 1030 respectively. In the event that the gritting of roads is required in the evening, generally only Priority 1 routes will be treated, with an intention of doing so by 1800. Only under exceptional circumstances will any other routes be gritted in the evening.

It is emphasised that the target treatment times are provided in order to give an indication as to when the treatment of the roads will be completed. On most days, treatment is completed well before the target treatment times.

On Sundays and Local Public Holidays, only Priority 1 and Priority 2 routes will be gritted in the mornings starting at 0800 with completion by 0930 and 1030 respectively. In common with the other days of the week, only Priority 1 routes will be treated by 1800; only under exceptional circumstances will any other routes be gritted in the evening.

Details of the policy and of the routes across the Western Isles are available on the Comhairle’s website at and the public are encouraged to remind and familiarise themselves with how the details of the prioritisation of routes and the target treatment times affect them and their ability to travel to and from their homes.

The Comhairle has established the Winter Maintenance Member Officer Working Group. The Group, comprising Elected Members and officers, meets on a monthly basis and provides an oversight of the operational effectiveness of the Policy and Plan. It also monitors, in consultation with the Northern Constabulary, the incidence of road traffic issues arising from the implementation of the Plan.

The Comhairle’s Director of Technical Services, Iain Mackinnon, reiterated that, in accordance with the Comhairle’s legal responsibilities, the Comhairle shall “take steps as they consider reasonable to prevent snow and ice endangering the safe passage of pedestrians and vehicles over public roads.”

Mr Mackinnon confirmed that the terms of the Policy constitute what the Comhairle consider to be reasonable and emphasised that the travelling public are responsible for ensuring their own safety and that of their passengers when travelling in such conditions.

“Excellent advice is available from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) website on; members of the public should be aware of the risks associated with driving in such conditions and change their driving style to suit the conditions.”

He suggested that members of the public should always carefully consider the weather and road conditions prior to any journey and, in certain conditions, ask how essential the journey is.

For those who do not have access to the internet, the above and further information, including Transport Scotland’s “Driving in Bad Weather” leaflet, is also available from Technical Services at the Council Offices in Stornoway, Tarbert, Balivanich or Castlebay.