Renfrewshire Council

Keeping Renfrewshire moving throughout winter

We caught up with colleagues from our gritting and flooding teams to get an insight into how they prepare for winter and severe weather conditions.

Sammy Cooley has been working as part of the flooding team for more than 20 years, so he's seen more than most and his top tip for his colleagues—be prepared.

"Preparation is the key. We keep up to date with the weather forecast and ensure we have what we need in advance. Keeping enough supplies on-hand like extra gloves, wellies, waders, and good waterproofs is a must.

Flooding vehicle
Our teams clearing drains
"If there's heavy rain, we'll be out at the areas we know struggle most. We work quickly to clear the drains and also work closely with the Police and Fire Brigade when needed.

"It's hard work but there is no better feeling than arriving at a flood and fixing it. I remember a time about 15 years ago when heavy flooding impacted on the local undertakers in Erskine.

"We worked quickly to clear the water and the drains so that they could carry out their duties safely. Both the staff and the family affected were so appreciative, and we really knew we'd made a difference for them at a difficult time."

Sammy's colleague, Eddie McKinnon, is also well accustomed to dealing with tough situations when the skies open.

Eddie said, "The recent Storm Babet was really challenging as we were very limited in what we could do to counter the huge amount of rain that fell in such a short space of time.

"My role is to organise our teams, prioritise where needs our attention and make sure all the right procedures are in place.

It can be really difficult but I'm fortunate to have years of experience now and it helps me that our teams work well together and are motivated to do their jobs - so we always get there in the end.

"Once we're through it, the team have a debrief and learn anything we can do better next time, then get home for a well-deserved wash, meal and sleep!"


Alongside tackling floods throughout the winter months, our gritters are always on stand-by ready for action as soon as temperatures drop.

Grit shed at Uwd Rd
The grit shed at Underwood Road Depot
Operations supervisor, Stuart Miller, shared a bit of what goes on behind the scenes:

"We carefully monitor weather forecasts and assess what routes need gritted. When it's time to act, drivers carry out various safety checks and load their gritters.

"They then weigh their loads before setting out to along their assigned routes."

One of our drivers , Alex Donaldson (pictured below), spoke about what happens next:

 "We focus on priority routes, like schools, hospitals, and main roads which often need done more than once if rain washes it away, or we need to use the ploughs to clear away snow.

Alex Donaldson_gritting and flooding team
Alex Donaldson
"This can affect whether we're able to treat residential streets and other areas. It can also be challenging when you are working along a route that you don't know well, especially when there's heavy snow. Any issues are recorded alongside a final weigh-in on return to the depot, which means we can keep our stock replenished and assess what to do next.

"When we're not out gritting, we are busy refilling grit bins across the area, washing, emptying and fuelling our vehicles and doing all we can to prepare for the next cold snap - because it's never far away in a Scottish winter!

"It gives us all a boost knowing so many people rely on us. I'm proud of the work we do and it's a nice feeling when people recognise the difference we make."


Thank you to all our flooding and gritting colleagues who took the time to share their experiences of the work they do and extend a big shout out and thank you to all of you who are out facing tough weather conditions each year, working hard to keep Renfrewshire moving.

For more information on how the council prepares for emergencies including severe weather, visit

Published on Wednesday 17 January 2024