By Rob Haddow, Inspections Portfolio Manager at Connect Plus Services.

This weekend marked the start of the winter season at Connect Plus Services (CPS). The season runs from October to April but the preparation work to ensure we can keep the M25 network running safely through the winter months is a year-round effort.

So, what does being ready to keep the M25 running in all weather conditions entail?

To start with, we’ve got over 22,000 tonnes of salt stored and ready to go in our eight depots, strategically located around the network. Salt barn inspections have taken place at all these sites and the moisture content of the salt has been checked to ensure that it complies with the British Standards target specification of less than four percent moisture.

We’ve also added essential equipment to our fleet as well as conducted critical maintenance on our existing vehicles. In total we have 34 dedicated gritting vehicles to cover 27 predefined routes as well as two additional strategic spares. Additionally, we are proud to maintain and operate 14 Telehandler vehicles, four extra effort ploughing vehicles, two snow blowers and 40 de-mountable ploughs. These were all ready and out in force for our winter parade on Friday to celebrate the hard work that has been put into getting ready for the colder months ahead.

To give you an idea of the scale of the winter operation, last year we carried out 1,827 runs of rock salt for the roads and 82 runs of potassium acetate for the tunnels, which equated to 10,287 tonnes of rock salt and 15,287 litres of potassium acetate being used to protect our network and keep it safely moving for our customers. Weather forecasts are delivered every four hours and a decision is made by 4pm each day as to whether we need to go out on the network to distribute salt or carry out other protective measures. If temperatures go below 1ºc, the team is heading out!

This video explains all the work we do to combat the effects of severe weather conditions in more detail.

If you’d like to join the M25 team and take part in programmes like this, please take a look at our current vacancies and get in touch!

by Andy Whitmill, Service Delivery Director at Connect Plus Services

This week is National Inclusion Week (NIW), marking a key moment in the calendar for the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion team here at Connect Plus Services, which I’m very proud to be a part of.

For me, NIW is a great opportunity to celebrate our differences and learn from each other about how we can improve some of our working practices to achieve our goal of creating a truly inclusive workplace.

I also find that having a week in the year dedicated to focusing on our inclusion efforts gives us a chance to reflect on the different programmes that have taken place across the business in the past year and start gathering ideas for the year ahead. On that note, it’s fair to say we’ve done a lot to be proud of this year.

There’s been too much to cover it all here, but I’d like to call out one of our initiatives which is really gaining momentum. Last week, we were pleased to host our first Women in Service Delivery focus group, which had the purpose of hearing from women working on the network in operational roles about how we can improve their working environment and experience in the industry.

It was such an open an honest session, and we were lucky to be joined by Christine Allen, National Highways Regional Director and Mel Clarke, National Highways Director of Health, Safety & Wellbeing, who provided great advice and demonstrated their commitment to improving the working environment for women across our industry! We’re looking forward to running more sessions soon.

Other impactful initiatives this year I’d like to celebrate are some practical changes that have been made to our sites to make them more accessible for colleagues with physical disabilities, as well changing our PPE supplier so that we can offer more inclusive clothing for our operational staff.

The theme for NIW 2023 is Take Action, Make Impact. This is such a powerful message which aims to get organisations and individuals thinking about what actions they can take and what positive impact these actions could and should have for marginalised colleagues. It’s certainly the message that will be at the heart of our activities and conversations this week, and for the year ahead.

So, what’s the plan for NIW here at CPS? We’ve got lots going on, starting with a shared international lunch across our locations with colleagues taking the time to prepare food that reflects their culture. During these sessions the focus of the conversation will be around what we can do better as well as garnering feedback on our diversity and inclusion endeavours this year. What we learn from our teams will help inform our plans for the year ahead. We’ve also got a bit of fun on the agenda, with a diversity and inclusion themed quiz for our teams to enter and a couple of very informative webinars in the diary.

Before I sign off, I’d like to wish everyone a happy and informative National Inclusion Week. I hope all my colleagues at CPS, and wider industry network, can all take this opportunity to enjoy learning from each other!