Posted on Wednesday 25th January 2023
(Left to right) Nick, Matt and Michael
Keeping the roads clear in Flash in the winter is no mean feat according to county council gritting hill contractor Matt Eckert.
Video Link: Matt explains what it’s like gritting the roads in the highest village in Britain
Matt has been gritting the roads of Flash and surrounding areas for more than seven years along with his father Michael and best friend Nick Gillman.
The team were featured on BBC Country File as part of a special programme about Flash on Sunday, 22 January.
Matt and his team have three gritters and five snow ploughs at their base outside Flash where they remain on standby ready for action. With 700 tonnes of salt stockpiled they are ready to roll out at a moment’s notice. The team get their call out instructions from the decision-making team based at the nearby Ladderedge depot in Leek.
At 1,518 feet, Flash is often the first place in the county to see the winter weather and snow. While the views are breathtaking, driving conditions when the weather turns can be extremely challenging.
Talking about his work, Matt said:
“Flash is a beautiful place to work in the summer and even nicer in the winter, but it can be incredibly challenging when the bad weather hits.
“We have three gritters and a huge pile of grit ready to go. It’s not just me thankfully. It’s a team effort, my best mate Nick also drives, and my dad Michael helps when needed. It can be pretty hectic up here, especially when we have prolonged periods of snow and freezing temperatures, but with the three of us we always do our best to keep the roads clear.
“We’re now in our seventh season. It’s an important job we do that can be quite stressful, but we love it.”
David Williams, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport at Staffordshire County Council said:
“Our gritting teams including Matt do a fantastic job in keeping the county on the move throughout the winter months.
“It’s been a busy few weeks and nights for our crews who have been working around the clock, but we remain well prepared for whatever winter decides to throw at us.”
Staffordshire County Council has a fleet of more than 40 gritters stationed across the county and around 20,000 tonnes of salt stockpiled. It’s the Biggest gritting network in the Midlands with five depots across the county.
The county also has nine weather stations where Road conditions, temperatures and the weather are also monitored around the clock. On routine winter days and nights gritters focus on the major routes, extending to the wider network in prolonged ice and snow conditions.
People can find out more about where the teams grit and how we prepare for winter at www.staffordshire.gov.uk/winter