A CAST of strange characters are all geared up to keep Sandwell’s roads clear during the winter.

Watch out for Ice One Cyrille or Dame Julia Salters to pop along to grit your road as the council gears up to keep roads open, whatever the weather throws at us.

The council’s gritters, now on 24-hour standby until March, have already been out once this winter as temperatures hit zero.

The council have stocked more than 6,000 tonnes of salt for their 9 gritting vehicles, which are sporting new names thanks to suggestions from members of the public in a competition last winter.. They are:

• Ice One, Cyrille (named in honour of WBA legend Cyrille Regis)

• Dame Julie Salters (named after Smethwick-born actress Dame Julie Walters)

• The Greatest Snow Van

• Spread Zeppelin

• Frozie Lawrence (named after Old Hill-born actress Josie Lawrence)

• Frosty the Snow Van

• Melt-on John

• Rule Gritannia

• Ctrl+Salt+Delete

The trucks named in tribute to locals Cyrille, Dame Julie, Led Zep and Josie will all grit routes associated with them.

Residents are urged to look out for the trucks on Sandwell’s roads as temperatures fall, and they can also see news of the gritters going on duty by following the council and the highways team on Twitter - @sandwellcouncil and @sandwellroads and by following the Sandwell page on Facebook – www.facebook.com/sandwellcouncil

Last winter the gritting crew went out 43 times using 1,023 tonnes of grit - that's covering a distance from Sandwell to South Korea and back again.

The borough’s 545 salt bins are being filled up ready for the winter.

The council’s cabinet member for sustainable transport, Councillor Jackie Taylor, said: “We know that keeping the roads moving in winter is a really high priority for our residents.

“We are well-prepared and our staff are able to do the fantastic job they always do each winter.”

Every time the gritters go out, they cover around 260 miles of Sandwell's roads, each time putting down around 55 tonnes of salt.

Sandwell Council owns nine gritting trucks and five snow ploughs.