Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Slip-ups in the snow

Well, I certainly wasn't alone in my rant last night. The papers this morning all had a similar theme:

Much as I feel uncomfortable joining the grumpy "all-gone-to-hell-in-a-handcart" tone of the Daily Mail, their headline is apt: Why can't we cope? I didn't rush to blame Greenwich Council last night for my having to walk the last part of my journey, as clearly the problem is far from confined to our locality, and my whingeing was mostly directed at Transport for London and the train companies. But the roads and pavements in Eltham this morning were just as icy (I slipped and fell on the way to the station), and there surely could have been more done overnight to get ready for the morning.
As regards yesterday's action by Greenwich Council, the following is the bulletin issued to councillors by the relevant officers last night:

Today [Monday], gritting crews were immediately put on stand-by to be loaded and ready at 4pm following the receipt of a weather update at 13.45 "Rain and sleet pushing north this afternoon, turning to snow for a time between 1600 and 1900hrs."
Gritting could not commence prior to snowfall as the wet conditions meant that the grit would be washed away by the rain.
The gritting fleet left as instructed at 4pm to grit Priority 1 roads and immediately met gridlock traffic conditions as large numbers of motorists decided to leave early when they saw the snow falling The Borough Commander was contacted to provide police assistance to get the gritters moving through traffic.
Prior to today, gritting operations were carried out continuously throughout Thursday evening and night until Friday morning, covering Priority 1 and 2 roads. Gritting continued throughout the weekend.
In terms of pavements, on Friday and over the weekend, we prioritised areas with very high footfall (such as town centres, shopping areas, and bus stops) as well as residential roads in hilly areas (Priority 1 and 2 pavements). Today we have re-gritted many of these areas and are moving on to other pavement areas.
I have a lot of sympathy with them for how difficult an operation it is, but clearly more needs to be done. Every local authority will have questions to answer, and in Greenwich we'll be asking our share of them.

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