Farmers hailed as 'unsung heroes'
4 January 2013
Although the winter so far has been more wet than cold, across
Kent there is an army of more than 160 farmers who can be called on
night or day to clear the county’s rural routes when and if the
snow does arrive.
Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and
Transportation, Bryan Sweetland,
“We clear about half of our road network. We don’t do all the
roads – just Kent’s key routes – and most people know that.
“What people don’t know about, though, is the team of farmers
who turn out whatever the weather – and it’s generally during the
early hours of the morning, before anyone else is around – to
clear our important back roads and rural routes.
“These farmers do a tremendous job and in difficult times they
can prove a lifeline for rural residents. In many ways they are the
unsung heroes of Kent in winter, often stopping to help people who
shouldn’t have gone out for a drive or weren’t properly
“We are prepared for the winter – and we hope residents will be
careful if snow hits, really asking whether they need to make their
Farmer Andrew Brealy, whose family has been turning out to clear
the roads around Herne since the 1970’s, said:
“It’s critical that we go out in the early hours of the morning
now because there’s so much traffic that perhaps goes out
inappropriately. Rather than asking, ‘is this journey really
necessary?’ they might try to get to work or take the kids to
school. So we have issues with people getting stuck, blocking the
roads, and our snow ploughs not being able to get through
especially on narrow roads."
James Whitbread, who clears roads around Tonbridge, said:
“All the farmers in the area tend to know each other, so we stay
in contact, trying to make sure we get it all done and help each
other if anyone is struggling. Once our route is done, we’ll call
the council to see if we are required to go further.
“It's one of those jobs that is great fun at first but it tends
to wear off after a few hours! The general public are pleased to
see the work we’ve done, that the roads have been cleared of snow.
At last farmers are seen as nice people, helping to get others
moving, rather than drivers of slow tractors on the road.”
For more information on Kent’s winter preparations, including
salting routes, where to find local salt bins and details of how to
sign up for school closure alerts, please visit: www.kent.gov.uk/winter