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Ungritted roads left "like ice-rink" as snow and ice wreak havoc

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: January 21, 2013

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TREACHEROUSLY icy road surfaces in Cheltenham have raised fears the town is being left behind in the county's ongoing gritting operation.

Dozens of residential streets and minor roads in the town were left out by the gritters during the weekend's snowfall, making them perilously difficult to pass for motorists and pedestrians.

Highways chiefs said they are doing their best to cope with the onslaught from the wintry conditions, with all major routes gritted. But, with the big freeze set to last all week, residents said the town's smaller roads needed urgent attention.

Kate Skelton, 30, from Montpellier, suffered a badly bruised coccyx when she slipped on ice while walking down Montpellier Street.

"It was extremely dangerous," she said.

"There was nowhere to walk safely as there was hard ice on both the road and the pavement.

"It was really painful and I'm sure there will be some bruising as a result. It makes me think about how on earth elderly people can get around. It's just so uncertain underfoot, it's like walking on an ice rink.

"With the state of the roads as they are I'm sure a lot of people just want to stay at home."

Jo Bailey, chairwoman of Cheltenham Senior Citizens' Welfare Association, said ungritted roads on some of the town's estates were a hazard for the over-70s.

"Most of my members just won't go outside in these kind of conditions," she said. "It's not worth it. It's so difficult to walk without falling over and they would risk being in plaster for weeks – not to mention the shock.

"I know they grit the major routes but roads on Cheltenham's estates don't get the same attention.

"If you want to go out, those are the ones you have to get past first so it's not much good to most elderly people."

Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood said he was aware the town had been left behind other parts of Gloucestershire in the past – with gritting teams failing to prioritise its routes. However this time round, he said, he was keen to ensure it was not the case.

"This time I do think the county council seems to be doing a better job at keeping on top things," he said. "But it's important they continue to monitor the situation because our roads are some of the most heavily used in the county."

Gloucestershire County Council said Cheltenham was given exactly the same proportion of gritting resources as the rest of the county.

The authority said it is continuing to treat key routes and secondary roads with more snow expected today.

Rural

Ploughs are on standby to tackle snow and ice in rural areas and parish councils have been given access to grit bins to make minor routes passable for pedestrians.

John Kay, area highways manager, said: "We would still urge residents to take care when travelling, especially on higher ground.

"We are constantly being updated by the Met Office and are prepared to adapt our plans accordingly."

More snow flurries are expected today with temperatures hovering around the freezing mark. Several schools in the county will be closed, including Queen Margaret Primary School in Tewkesbury.

The cold snap looks set to stay throughout the week, with the mercury dropping to -5°C in parts of Gloucestershire by Thursday night.

Weather expert Ian Thomas said: "There may be some thawing during the week, but not much give.

"People should still expect snow and ice on the roads and pavements and take care when walking about.

"There is a hint of some milder weather for Saturday."

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29 comments

  • tishwash  |  January 22 2013, 6:04PM

    @Driud it's all about priorities, cars having accidents cause more collatoral damage, the majority of pedestrians take more care and if they do fall don't tend to injure themselves long term, if a car skids off the road then they'll take out other cars/objects/pedestrians. Also how do you grit the pavement efficiently if cars are parked (e.g. in parking permit zones)?

  • Driud  |  January 21 2013, 10:29PM

    In South Wales & in some towns they seem to be putting salt on the pavements to help pedestrians.. not in Cheltenham only motorists seem to matter.. A lot of elderly people need to get to to shops.. these people need more help than car drivers..

    |   -2
  • tishwash  |  January 21 2013, 7:33PM

    @AndyPrestbury depends where in Sweden, there was about an inch put down all across Uppsala when I lived there, there was barely any snow spots apart from grassy areas, then they collect the grit ready for storage until the next winter.

  • taylke  |  January 21 2013, 5:12PM

    I must say that I was surprise to hear that bus routes aren't automatically on the list of roads for gritting. It would encourage people to use buses more if that were the case. It is unreasonable to expect every side road to be gritted. There isn't the money or the kit to do that.

  • TimMessanger  |  January 21 2013, 3:59PM

    Matt1006 - The police can(should) issue a ticket and on the bottom give him/her the choice of either owning up or naming the driver at the time. If he refuses to name the driver then take him/her to court and let the court draw whatever conclusion they wish from his/her silence. Silence is no defence! The gritters over the last few days have gritted for over 18,800km well done them!

    |   6
  • Matt1006  |  January 21 2013, 3:04PM

    Tim - have you seen this? http://tinyurl.com/a5epm8v Mid-way down the page. Audi, pictured on M4... If anybody deserves a ticket / points / driving ban, it's this moron. Except of course how do you prove who was actually driving (and therefore liable) at the time?

    |   4
  • DG9999  |  January 21 2013, 2:48PM

    "Years ago the unemployed were offered work gritting minor roads and the pavements in Cheltenham for an extra payment-why can't that be done now?"----------------------------------------------@nickthompson-----Because people object to paying council tax." Since when has council tax paid unemployment benefits?

  • GoneSledging  |  January 21 2013, 2:26PM

    No matter how much they grit, they can't grit everything everywhere. So there is always going to be someone who is going to moan. I personally think that they are doing a good job with the resources that they have and it must be so disheartening to see people moaning no matter how hard they work, in difficult conditions. I do agree with TimMessanger in as much as people do not prepare properly for driving in the snow, they think that because they have four wheel drive or they can see a bit of road then they can go flat out and expect to get away with it, whilst throwing the snow off there car onto others windscreens, that they cannot be bothered to clear off. On the flip side you have the drivers going so slow that as soon as any incline is met, then they get stuck and try to wheelspin away in first gear. Causing more chaos. Education and a little forethought go a long way...

    |   14
  • TimMessanger  |  January 21 2013, 1:49PM

    Drivers. Before you set off remove all snow that might fall off into the path of other road users #HighwayCode rule 229

    |   11
  • Dogloverfod  |  January 21 2013, 1:21PM

    For those of you moaning about slipping on ungritted pavements get yourselves some yaktrax's and you will be able to walk safely on ice & snow. I have been abe to walk 3 large dogs all weekend on ungritted pavements & roads easily and without slipping once. Yet everyone I passed commented on how slippery the pavements were. I don't expect the council to grit every road & pavement especially in the country I just find ways to get on with it.

    |   18

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