When it comes to roads, the Department for Transport (DfT) is working to ensure the UK enters the coming winter having prepared well.

That's the message that MP Norman Baker, parliamentary under secretary for transport, gave in a recent speech.

According to the pre-delivery version published by the department, he said that the government was very serious about winter preparations.

"As we all know, our weather can be notoriously unpredictable. That is why it remains vital that we do not become complacent, and have robust contingency plans in place to deal with any eventuality," he said.

It was vital that that all possible action was taken to make sure the road networks worked as safely and efficiently as was possible, he added. Mr Baker, who was addressing his remarks to the Surveyor winter conference and exhibition, said the maintenance sector played a central role in this.

He spoke of the fact that the DfT is still maintaining a reserve of salt, one that he called 'substantial'. It had "robust distribution processes in place, if for any reason, this salt of last resort needs to be allocated," he added.

Salt audit results suggested that local highway authorities were well on their way when it came to getting supplies of salt restocked, he also said.

"Early analysis suggests that as a country we will enter the winter season with a good supply," he promised.

He later went on to say that The Highways Agency had over 500 winter vehicles at its disposal to treat major A roads and motorways at any time of day.

"However, when sudden spells of very severe weather – in particular, heavy snowfalls – coincide with periods of heavy traffic, it is not always possible to prevent congestion and delays," he warned.

He said it was essential that people using the roads, whether driving heavy goods vehicles or cars, allowed contractors and the fleet space for doing their work in severe weather, in order that they can be treated fast and disruption kept to a minimum.

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