Tuesday, 22 December 2009

All snowed up and no place to go

Like many other people in the South East yesterday I got snowed up. It took me two hours to go round one roundabout and come back to work. No roads were gritted, and cars were sliding around in their unreasonable and unrealistic hope of getting home. In my short journey I must have seen 3 or 4 blue flashing ambulance lights and multiple roadside rescue vehicles skidding around like everyone else. The radio reported one serious accident that the ambulance was unable to get to because roads were gridlocked. Chaos is too neat a word to describe what was happened on Berkshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire roads yesterday.

But, as Scarlet pointed out, tomorrow is another day so after a makeshift night at the office I’m up to see whether today brings brighter weather and passable roads. Surprise, surprise, after the complexity of the argument about measuring the performance of local councillors, the local Reading Transport web site hasn’t been updated since 15.30 yesterday. I guess they were too busy getting home, or maybe they thought there was no point as stranded cars don’t have internet access anyway. I doubt it’s the responsibility of part-time Councillors to update the web site, but between full time council employees, and local Councillors, basic services like information and gritting were not available.

It seems every year that the local authorities get caught out, which means that every year we get caught out. After the fiasco that has been Eurostar over the last few days, and the complaints about lack of information, even if gritting lorries couldn’t get out you would have thought that someone somewhere would have made information a priority. But even though it’s taken me a full 30 minutes to tone down this blog post, the latest traffic information is still missing.

I have no doubt that it's not much fun being in the firing line when the snow starts to fall, but winter happens approximately once every year and preparing for it seems a sensible precaution. The only gritting lorries that were seen yesterday weren't working. It may be performance under pressure, but surely tax payers deserve better?

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