Codes to help keep track of grit levels
High-tech QR codes will be added to Perth and Kinross Council grit bins this winter to make it more straightforward to report empty bins.
It was one of a range of changes to PKC’s winter maintenance policy unanimously approved by councillors last week.
The plans were outlined in a report put before the local authority’s environment, infrastructure and economic development committee on Wednesday, September 21.
The document was compiled by Stuart D’All, PKC’s road maintenance partnership manager.
It is hoped the QR codes would be introduced by the middle of the coming winter.
He described keeping over 1600 grit bins fully-stocked as “challenging”, particularly when demand is high.
It is hoped adding a QR code will allow a “quick and easy way” of reporting an empty grit bin, reducing the workload for office staff.
Highland Perthshire Conservative councillor John Duff asked what the cost and value of this would be when empty grit bins can already be reported through the online portal MyPKC.
Mr D’All said they were still in the early stages of discussion with IT over the practicalities.
He explained there was not only sometimes an issue over identifying the exact location of a reported empty grit bin, but also over perceptions of what
constitutes an “empty” bin.
He said: “The idea is it would be positioned in such a location that where you took an image of the QR code you also got an image of the grit bin. So when we went out and filled it we could take an image of the grit bin and the QR code – just to demonstrate it had been filled.”
Cllr Duff asked if QR codes could be added to litter bins as well.
Barbara Renton, the council’s executive director of communities, said: “I think we would want to trial it and see if it works.
“It is to take a little bit of pressure off crews so they can concentrate on the most important things.”
This winter will also see PKC switch from marine to rock salt in a bid to save
The report revealed rising shipping costs had led to marine salt prices rising “considerably”.
While marine salt – which is transported from Spain – will still be used on footway ploughs it is hoped the move to rock salt, from Yorkshire, will save cash.
The committee was told last winter was “less severe”, with just eight days of snow ploughing compared to 37 days the previous winter.
It saw a 38 per cent decrease in the amount of salt spread – a decrease of 9290 tonnes from 24,158 to 14,868 tonnes.
Around 565 miles of PKC’s 1553 miles of road network is designated as a “high priority” for winter service.
The Scottish Government is responsible for trunk roads within Perth and Kinross.
A shortage of HGV/LGV drivers is another challenge facing Tayside Contracts, which staffs the gritters for the council.
The committee was told “various initiatives” were being pursued, including using the sub-contract supply chain, to fill rota gaps.
PKC benefits from “invaluable” voluntary arrangements with 68 farmers who are supplied with snow ploughs – which they attach to their tractors – to clear snow on specified stretches of public road as well as their own private roads.
Winter maintenance cover will begin on October 17 and run until April 2 next year.