LESSONS  appear to have been learnt as thousands of motorists enjoyed ice-free roads on the way to work.

The big freeze finally arrived in Essex as heavy snowfall and blizzards swept across the county on Sunday.

Drivers enjoyed stress free commutes as gritters went out in full force to clear the roads of snow and ice ahead of the Monday morning rush hour.

This comes just over a month after the county’s road network ground to a halt following heavy snowfall, as a lack of gritting caused severe delays and several accidents.

County councillor Derrick Louis, cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: “I am very pleased with the gritting teams. They have done an extremely good job day and night keeping the roads clear and the feedback from residents has been very positive.

“Unfortunately things were not the same last time. The difference this time is that the snow had been been forecast and when it came last time it came during the morning peak which made it very difficult for our gritters to get out.

“At the end of the winter period we will be carrying out a formal review of how things have gone, and if there are any lessons to be learnt they will be incorporated into next year. Until then, we have a very health stock of grit and our gritters will continue to go out when required.”

More than 60 gritting lorries from Essex highways went out in full force during the weekend, treating the roads five times on Sunday and again early Monday morning and afternoon.

Snow ploughs were also used to clear roads, with local famers assisting in some areas.

Southend Council also sent out gritters as well as quad bikes to clear key pavements.

Steven Crowther, Southend Council’s group manager for waste and environmental care, said: “Guided by the predicted weather forecast, we undertook precautionary gritting on our main road network and pedestrian shopping areas, so when the snow arrived, the road gritters were already out working.

“All cleansing crews were redeployed to clear snow manually to support the mechanical operations. Good preparation is the key to tackling snow successfully.

“All staff engaged with these operations worked throughout the weekend to ensure that our highway network remained open and we also deployed additional resources over the weekend too.

“We would like to specially thank the teams and crews involved, for working such long hours to make the roads safe.”

Both authorities said they would be keeping a close eye on upcoming forecasts as weather experts predict the wintery conditions will continue for another four days.

Information and advice on how to cope with the snow is available at www.essex.gov.uk/winter and www.southend.gov.uk/winter