LibDem Cllr Daisy Benson makes a statement of the seriousness with which it is being treated, saying how she has been impressed by the manner and scope of the compilation of the report:
"I welcome the openness of officers and willingness to ensure any problems and issues are identified so more effective policies can be implemented in future."She praises the dedication of council staff and notes how the same events have been calculated to cost other councils as much as £5m and expresses concern at how this will increase pressure on an already stretched budget for the year ahead.
The parliamentary candidate for Reading West lists a range of areas which she identified as areas requiring review, including:
- Weather forecasting receipt and dissmenation of information
- Emergency planning processes (including staffing of emergency control centre)
- Gritting - supplies, stores, deployment and priorities - to include footways and provision of grit bins and grit stocks
- Communication - including the Council's policies, role and capacity to get informaton about adverse weather conditions out to the public
- Closer liaison between RTL (Reading Buses) and the emergency operations and co-ordination functions to ensure priority and ‘high community value’ routes remain operable
- A recognised and accessible debriefing, information and update reports, including a "lessons learnt" process.
She advocates greater engagement with social media by the authorities as the fastest means of providing accurate real-time information to the public.
Meanwhile Labour's Cllr John Ennis provides an account of the report.
He accepts the widespread public criticism of the handling of the mini-crisis, but recognises the efforts made by services to keep running normally under conditions of 'exceptional adverse weather'.
He notes that there are lessons to be learnt with regard to communication with the public and picks out that the council has prioritises a review of both the role and coordination of procedures, however he excuses Reading's authorities by explaining how the blizzard which hit during rush-hour on Monday 21st December (report, reaction, more reaction, round-up) also affected neighbouring authorities across the region - so no-one was immune.
Cllr Ennis suggests Reading wasn't appreciably worse prepared, nor any worse at dealing with the problems. He also makes an inspecific attack on people who 'stole' grit, which to his mind may explain why some grit bins were empty.
However both Cllr Benson and Cllr Ennis express the hope that outside interests will not play a part in the review as the election period cranks into full gear.
Cllr Benson states:
"it is vital that local residents get the opportunity to hold the Council and it's performance to account in an open and transparent way."But Cllr Ennis gives an implicit warning about how the scoring of cheap political points may influence future policy for the worse. He says:
"I hope the discussion does not become too party political or "council bashing" as contrary to the perception of some, it did snow on Tory councils as well."
It is noticable that local Tories have not been more forthcoming on precisely how they're engaging with the formal processes of the council - either in the press or online. Some might say they'd be more vocal if they felt it suited them to, but I couldn't possibly comment.
Update: Alistair Coleman invites us to look at the politics of weather from his perspective...
Green party campaigner Adrian Windisch spent his Saturday evening writing a blog post to summarise the events which unfolded together with a few opinions from the local political blogosphere.
Fellow Green Party member Rob White offers an alternative appoach by giving his support to Cllr Benson.
Mr London Street has a slightly different way of looking at the world - he says English snow is 'more deadly, more dangerous and more disruptive' than any other, "the swine flu of snow".
Read the whole of Reading Borough Council's official report into the 'Impacts of Severe Weather Conditions'.
More on Weather-related issues