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Name a gritter competition winners rewarded by St Helens Borough Council

Saints skipper Jonny Lomax has given the seal of approval on a council gritter named in his honour.

Gritter comp winners

Article date: 26 March 2024

In October last year, St Helens Borough Council launched a competition to find suitable names for three new gritting vehicles, purchased from its capital budget as part of a fleet modernisation programme, to keep the local road network safe during the cold winter months.

Having received more than 120 entries, Grit Astley (Never Gonna Slip You Up); Sleetwood Mac - named after the iconic band Fleetwood Mac - and Jonny Snowmax were selected as the favourites, with the winners invited down to the Totally Wicked Stadium this week to receive their prizes and had the opportunity to hop onboard the gritters which now have their names proudly displayed.

After presenting Sophie (7) and Jack (6) Hurst - who chose the name Sleetwood Mac - and George (7) and Oscar (4) Nash - who suggested Jonny Snowmax - with their Willowbees soft play vouchers, Councillor Seve Gomez-Aspron, Deputy Leader of St Helens Borough Council and Cabinet Member for Strategic Transport, said:

"We've seen how successful other gritter naming competitions have been over the UK so it's great to get involved ourselves. The engagement and reaction from the public was fantastic, with some very clever play-on-words put forward, not least the three we picked as our worthy winners - two of which have a fitting connection to our borough.

"Congratulations to our winners. It was a pleasure to welcome them down to see the gritters up close with their names on and for the kids to show such an interest and appreciation on what the council does.

"The sheer excitement on the kids' faces getting to press the gritter horns was adorable and they were equally excited to meet Jonny who was a great sport for getting involved.

"With this latest investment, our winter road maintenance service is now more resilient than ever before, standing ready to combat ice and snow during the colder months. It's a vital service that I'm glad to see improved through our expansive fleet modernisation programme, and one that will certainly benefit residents."

Commenting on what it means to have a gritter named after him, Jonny Lomax said: "It's a bit different but pretty cool actually seeing it. The kids were talking about it at school when the name first got announced - my little lad in particular was buzzing about it.

"Hopefully we won't see it in action for a while now, although it can still be quite cold out, but it's pretty cool to be honest."

Fitted with GPS tracking systems which provide live and archived data, the new vehicles - supplied by Romaquip - the UK's leading supplier of winter maintenance equipment - are considerably more efficient than older diesel vehicles, producing far fewer emissions.  

The latest additions bring the total winter maintenance operational vehicles to a nine-strong fleet, with crews on standby 24-7 until mid-April to act on information coming in from the borough's two weather stations which provide live and vital information on weather and road conditions  

Once road surface temperatures approach zero degrees, the team will go out to cover seven key routes across more than 178 miles of local road network, spreading between 10 to 20 grams of treated salt before ice forms and snow settles to keep the borough's roads open for the morning commutes and school runs.  

Since October last year when then winter maintenance season started, the council has carried out 41 gritting operations to date, resulting in more than 2,000 tonnes of rock salt used.

For more information on the winter maintenance programme, visit: www.sthelens.gov.uk/gritting