Wednesday, 13 January 2010

True Grit

I called off my attempt to get to Basingstoke this morning having travelled no further than 2 miles from home, abandoning my car on a steep hill down from Abbots Langley to Kings Langley where multiple small accidents had occurred on roads that were no better than skating rinks.

Overnight I had monitored the weather forecasts and Basingstoke and the South East were due 'Heavy snow' and my specific area was due 'Light snow' - but both areas were due to have sub zero temperatures overnight. Abbots Langley and the area has had relentless light snow overnight but the freezing temperatures has meant that it has stuck and made roads totally treacherous. Not a grain of grit has been put on any of the main roads leading from Abbots Langley anywhere and speaking to several colleagues this morning it appears the same picture is painted across the county.

I rang Three Rivers Council who I pay my rates to. They said that they had gritted some roads but had not expected the volume of snow. I asked had they known the temperatures would be below zero as it was forecasted - even the Highways Agency, the AA and the BBC had warned driving conditions would be poor - so the excuses of not knowing were pretty slim.

I watched a news item a few days ago where a lady Councillor from Haringey, I think, was saying that her council had ordered grit in December and it had not arrived so it was, 'Not our fault'. It was a wonderful piece of politicking yet a swift analysis would be asking why had she left it as late as December to order for the winter months when we had already had snow by then? Further, common sense tells you that if a cold snap does come, then demand for grit will increase so being prepared meant anticipating and getting stocks in early to avoid having to wait when demand was highest. It's pretty simple really.

Gritting has been at the worst level that I can remember this year - there just does not seem to be any attempt to get lorries out and volume of grit down. Granted this is an extended cold snap but the grit wasn't there at the beginning so it is not as if they have run out half way through which would have been understandable - they just didn't seem to have any to start with.

Now here's the rub. As private individuals, supplies at places like garden centres or B&Q are pretty good so these stores have anticipated demand well. There is also a rumour that if I were to grit the area outside my house and did not do it properly and then the postman fell over, allegedly, I could be sued for not gritting properly. In the case of the councils, you have to ask whether they can be sued for gross negligence or causing unnecessary accidents for not gritting at all but I am sure there are many clauses protecting them.

This year has been the poorest on record for gritting and today is shameful. It's not that much snow but we are at a standstill again.

No comments: