New bishop continues the tradition of gritter blessings
GRITTING teams which will keep the rural roads and main routes in and out of Gainsborough clear of snow this winter have been blessed.
The new Bishop of Lincoln, the Right Reverend Christopher Lowson, continued the tradition on Wednesday when he visited the West Lindsey highways depot at Sturton-by-Stow.
His predecessor the Right Reverend John Saxbee, carried out eight previous ceremonies before his retirement earlier this year.
Located between Gainsborough and Lincoln, the county council salting store is the base for gritters and their drivers who are on 24-hour standby.
Bishop Lowson led prayers at Sturton – one of eight depots across England's fourth largest county.
"Lincolnshire's thousands of miles of roads are relied on for people's work, for medical appointments, for visiting family, for shopping, and for businesses which provide employment for many thousands of people," he said.
"We all have a duty to use the roads sensibly and carefully to ensure the safety of ourselves and others.
"And we are enormously grateful for the hard work of those who salt the roads in all hours and in all weathers.
"This is an opportunity to pray for them in their work, and to remember the responsibility we all have to drive responsibly."
The annual ritual took place as Lincolnshire County Council continued with its winter maintenance programme.
And, together with the Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership, it advises motorists to drive to the weather conditions – and not assume that even treated roads can be completely safe.
County Councillor William Webb is the executive member for highways and transport.
"Each year our crew of dedicated drivers is on standby, ready to go out in some of the worst weather conditions imaginable, determined to make a difference on the roads and keep Lincolnshire moving," he said.
"The annual blessings for their safety serve as a poignant reminder to us all that we should not take safety on the roads for granted.
"And, although we salt around a third of our roads as a priority, motorists should always drive to the conditions.
"They should remember that there will be occasions when salt may not be effective – it can help, but it is not a cure."
The blessings are supported by Lincolnshire County Council Highways, Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership, Lincolnshire Police and Churches Together in All Lincolnshire.
A leaflet detailing the priority salting routes and advice on winter driving is available at most libraries and petrol stations, on-line at www.lincolnshire.gov. uk/grittingroutes or by calling 01522 782070.