Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Whiteout Fallout Continues

#rdgnews - A veritable blizzard of reactions has tumbled out of the ether in response to the effects of the past few days winter weather.

Plenty of criticism has been laid at the door of authorities for an apparent lack of preparation, the failure to provide a sufficiently robust plan of action and being slow to respond to the changing situation.

However it seems a unique combination of rain washing away grit before a sudden massive downfall hit commuters in the middle of rushhour prevented authorities from realising the danger or dealing with it once it started to get out of hand - leading to a snowball effect where things just got worse.

Gideon Mack is typically extremely direct in expressing his anger, while Ceramix is more philosophic, calling his experience 'A Nightmare Before Christmas'.

On the political front Cllr Willis says he is glad the worst is now over and argues that it was unrealistic to expect councils to respond in the half hour between the Met Office warning and the beginning of the snow fall.

He claims he can now analyse what went wrong while explaining that he has asked for briefings and saying "what we need now is a considered investigation into the circumstances leading to yesterday’s severe weather."

He offers his readers the assurance that Conservatives are asking serious questions about the matter (although he doesn't give any details) while paying tribute to council workers who came off leave and out of hours to do their jobs.

He does however offer the insight that gritting is not always the best way of dealing with heavy powder snow - he states urea is better, although I doubt he is intentionally advising members of the public spray roads themselves!

Meanwhile Cllr Benson reprints the latest official statement from Reading Borough Council.

She describes RBC's decision to blame the inaccuracy of weather reports 'slightly dubious under the circumstances' given weather forecasts issued throughout the preceding week and the fact it took seven hours from the onset of the snowstorms to issue advice against travel.

Caroline Eveleigh is also concerned about the lack of official information provided and expresses her frustration that the authorities seem to get caught out every time any severe weather hits. She is sympathetic to the problems of performing under pressure but asks "surely tax payers deserve better?"

According to Labour MP Martin Salter the Met Office Warning was not issued until two hours after snow began falling. He provides a list of questions and suggestions including an increased focus on transport pinch-points. He argues that
"there is no doubt that better planning and better contingency arrangements can be put in place and that we need improved communications with both residents and businesses."
Mr Salter recognises the efforts of civic-minded citizens and staff, one of whom was Jim Beeer who cheerily describes how his good deed for the year was mentioned on GMTV!

Rachel Eden notes the fact that gritters were out on the roads at 1am, but in accordance with council policy many main roads were prioritiesed over side roads - something which caused Giovanni a few moments of concern as he was moving house in the weather...

Elsewhere West Berkshire spokesman Phil Spray has recently moved from Salisbury to Thatcham - he was obviously glad to have a shorter journey!


Oranjepan says:
With another night of freezing temperatures already here we can expect snow to be replaced by ice and further lingering problems into the rest of the week - so make sure you are prepared for invisible dangers on the roads.

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Update: The local NHS has issued some essential advice on ensuring health problems are kept to a minimum.

Thames Valley Police has also issued essential advice on coping with the weather problems.

Rachel Eden reposts Martin Salter's comments that blaming one section or group is often all too easy to do.

Cllr Daisy Benson rounds up a selection of twittered comments and picks up on the official responses from RBC, which she says highlights the weaknesses of a range of official communication protocols.

Howard Thomas says he didn't see any gritters and concludes the local council organisation is a 'shambles'.
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Previous reports: Commuters Grit Teeth As Weather Woes Grip Region; Anger Grows At Failure To Prevent Traffic Chaos
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