Frustration for all during snow chaos

George Andrews took this photograph of a dog walker on Bracklesham Beach. "This owner probably thought: 'Snow reason not to go walkies.'," he said.
George Andrews took this photograph of a dog walker on Bracklesham Beach. "This owner probably thought: 'Snow reason not to go walkies.'," he said.

JUST when we thought spring was well on its way, the area has been hit by shock snow, sleet and treacherous icy conditions.

However, with snow forecast for days in advance, many Observer readers were left questioning why roads were not cleared and gritted.

Sussex Police attended more than 300 collisions across the county in a 24-hour period.

Katherine Holt wrote to the Observer on Tuesday after seeing the figures.

“Why were the roads not prepped early yesterday morning when the snow was clearly evident, with warnings of more on the way?” she said.

“It’s really disappointing the council were not better prepared, having been good with the snowfall in January, this is completely unacceptable.

Another reader, George Findlay, described the A283, the A29 and Bury Hill as ‘sheets of ice’.

“It took me over an hour to turn around and come back,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, the driving winds formed drifts in some areas. Observer photographer Louise Adams captured images of 6ft-high drifts on the road to West Dean.

Speaking about the problems, Pieter Montyn, West Sussex cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “It was a very difficult and frustrating night for drivers, and we fully appreciate the problems they faced.

“I want to assure people that our crews were doing all they could but the winds and drifting have led to many incidents on the network which have had a knock-on effect creating gridlock across the whole county and the South East, which has impacted upon gritting operations.”

Speaking on Tuesday, he said: “I want to reassure people that our gritters will be working continuously while the severe weather continues.

“Our advice in the meantime is only drive if your journey is really essential and to take great care.”

The gritting team at the council has its own feed on social-networking site Twitter.

The team said they had laid 1,200 tonnes of salt by Tuesday, tweeting: “Combination of high wind, heavy snowfall, freezing temps are making treacherous driving, even on gritted roads. Be careful out there!”

On Tuesday, a spokesman from the county council said: “Our gritting fleet has been deployed continually over the past 48 hours treating the priority salting network, and we will deploy these again for this evening at 8pm amd at 2am tomorrow morning to treat for ice.”

The Met Office re-issued a yellow alert for snow on Tuesday, following yellow and amber alerts on Monday.

This was followed by a yellow ice warning for the areas where snow had fallen and started to melt.

A number of schools were closed on Tuesday, including Lancastrian Infants’ School and Chichester High School Sixth Form for Boys.

There were a number of road closures, including the A29, at Bury Hill, due to deep snow, and at Kennel Hill, at Goodwood, due to abandoned vehicles.

Many were forced to stay in their cars overnight on the worst-affected roads, including the A23 and M23.

Sussex Police also advised drivers to completely clear their cars of snow before travelling.

No-one suffered any life-threatening injuries in the severe weather.

St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester was open as normal throughout the bad weather.