Gritter manufacturer contracted to help keep region moving this winter

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North Yorkshire County Council has spent almost £2.2m on 18 new gritters manufactured by Ripon-based business Econ, to replace some of the vehicles in its fleet of 80 gritters.

Councillor Don Mackenzie, executive member for access, said: “We fully understand how important it is for residents and businesses to keep North Yorkshire moving throughout winter.

“To do that, we need to ensure our fleet stays right up-to-date. That’s why we’re investing now, and why we have a policy that none of our gritters should be more than eight years old and the average age of the whole fleet should be less than five.”

The new vehicles will form part of the NY Highways fleet.

NY Highways is a company created by the county council but operating as a private business. It took on the role of maintaining the county’s 5,800 miles of road after the council’s private sector contract ended earlier this year.

Ross Bullerwell, managing director of NY Highways, said: “Our preparations for winter are going very well. The summer restock of salt is under way and we are doing full summer services of all our existing gritters.

“It is great to have the investment in these new vehicles. It really enhances our fleet and gives us a very young fleet. This helps us to ensure that we deliver a successful winter maintenance programme to keep the roads safe and clear for travellers.”

The new vehicles, which are built on Mercedes-Benz chassis, are four-wheel drive to help them to cope with North Yorkshire’s rural topography.

They can be fitted with ploughs, if required, and have the latest GPS tracking systems.

Econ recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, having been founded in 1969. The company employs 240 people at its base in Ripon and has satellites in Scotland, Wales and Suffolk. It manufactures 300 gritters a year.

Andrew Lupton, sales director for Econ, said: “Econ was very pleased to be involved in this very comprehensive procurement process, which resulted in some of the highest specification gritters in the UK being supplied to this exciting new venture, NY Highways.

“Econ’s commitment to providing an excellent service, as well as investing in the county, can be seen from its recent £8m expansion at Sowerby, Thirsk.”

Cllr Mackenzie added: “Our investment in these vehicles demonstrates we remain committed to maintaining the level of our winter maintenance service under NY Highways.

“This enables us to treat routinely a greater proportion of our roads network during wintry conditions than any other council in England.”