Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Difficult road conditions!

As many will know from first hand knowledge driving conditions on Monday evening were difficult. I have personal knowledge of the extent of the problem having spent some considerable time trying to manoeuvre a rear wheel drive sports car from Southend to Leigh in conditions which can only be regarded as challenging.
However I feel that I need to stress some relevant information to counter the hysteria which appears to have gripped some sections of social media and in particulalr the suggestion that SBC was doing nothing.
Despite suggestions to the contrary we did have our crews out on the road network on Monday afternoon.  Despite their efforts the wind chill took the temperature down to round about minus 7 degrees and froze the wet surfaces covering the grit. The slow moving traffic did not keep enough traction to grind the grit/salt.  Whilst we felt the impact in Southend we were not alone and many areas in the South East were indicating a similar problem.
As always in these circumstances our crews having been working round the clock to keep our traffic moving. From late yesterday afternoon through to 10.30 am this morning 72 tonnes of grit were spread over 850 kms of road. In addition to this we mobilised our quad bikes this morning to support the journey to work / school run.
 The fact that a number of us did not see the gritters as we battled the heavy traffic was not surprising as they were caught in traffic like the rest of us.
There is on occasions an unreasonable expectation as to what a local authority can do to immediately clear snow and ice from roads. We have a limited number of bodies and equipment although diverted everyone possible. We could staff and equip at higher levels but does anybody think that is practical when these problems are relatively few and far between and in the vast majority of situations dealt with reasonably promptly.
It would be helpful if the public could be reasonable in their expectations taking account of the nature and timing of the adverse weather conditions and the resource available to us. It would also be helpful if they took account of adverse weather warnings and adjusted travel arrangements accordingly. Regrettably it is apparent  that many motorists appear to have no idea as to how to drive in adverse conditions making the situation far worse than it would otherwise be, and fail to believe that any proactive measures whether by way of snow clearance or by using winter tyres or similar is their responsibility.
I regret the problems which many faced and we will continue to try to ensure that our team is a responsive as possible. In the meantime when I next replace my car I must steer myself towards a sensible front wheel drive car capable of coping with any freezing conditions without showing an inclination to spin in ever decreasing circles.

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