THIRTY thousand tonnes of grit has been stockpiled as highways chiefs prepare for another ‘big freeze’ this winter.

In an average year Lancashire County Council spends around £4million on its winter service and spreads around 18,000 tonnes of grit.

However, the cost last year rose to £5.5million, with the county council using around 20,000 tonnes of grit.

By setting aside a massive 30,000 tonnes this year, bosses hope they will be able to cope in the event of a similarly severe winter.

Blackburn with Darwen Council said it was also ‘fully prepared’ to deliver its winter maintenance programme.

Duncan Reeve, project realm manager in Burnley, said he hoped residents and businesses would shoulder some of the responsibility for keeping the roads safe.

Forty-nine gritting wagons are poised to take to the streets, with a 16-strong reserve fleet providing back-up.

And 32 farmers and agricultural contractors have agreed to help in the most remote locations.

Mr Reeve said he wanted people to use the grit in 1,800 bins across the county to make their roads safe, but he urged residents not to ‘misuse’ the provisions.

He said: “We will use however much is needed, but it’s all down to self-help and people helping their neighbours.

"We are working with district and parish councils, emergency services and com-panies to promote the idea of self-help.”

“If the bad weather was to come next week we would be prepared.”

The grit is 97 per cent rock salt, with a molasses-type additive making up the remainder.