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Nine inches of snow brings Bexley to a standstill

PUBLISHED: 10:20 02 December 2010

Postman in Sidcup on Tuesday morning

Postman in Sidcup on Tuesday morning

Archant

Nine inches of snow brought traffic and trains to a standstill across the borough with angry commuters blaming the lack of grit on major routes for the chaos.

Grit dumped next to a bin in Sidcup High Street. Workers began spreading it themselves across the entrances to the shops.

The heavy snowfall on Tuesday led to trains being cancelled, schools closing, the cancellation of rubbish collections, library closures, skidding buses and gridlock on roads.

Despite the severe weather warning being issued by the Met Office on Monday night, and gritters being on the road since Sunday night, snow brought Bexley to a standstill.

Dave Powell, 44, of Walton Road, Sidcup, said: “I live near Faraday Avenue in Sidcup which is a major road and that hasn’t been gritted.

“This will all be ice in a few days and it will be dangerous. A little bit of snow and it all grinds to a halt.”

Bethan Evans, Olwen Evans and Poppy Bridge

Commuter Louise Burton, 44, of Priestlands Park Road, Sidcup, said: “There is not enough gritting.

“There is never enough and it is annoying.”

Commuters faced horrific journeys on Tuesday after train services were cancelled with some buses becoming stuck at a bus stop in Footscray Road, Eltham.

On Tuesday, 34 schools closed across Bexley with more closing yesterday. The only schools open yesterday were Bursted Wood, Castilion, Hurst, St Augustine’s, St Michael’s, St Stephen’s and Upton.

Poppy Bridge, 9, Olwen Evans, 6

Cars took an hour and a half to get to the A20 from Station Road in Sidcup on Tuesday hours after the rush hour at 9pm. The RAC said callouts to breakdowns peaked at 2,000 an hour on Tuesday with more problems in London than any other part of the UK.

Bexley’s gritting lorries treated 145 miles of the borough’s roads on Monday night, from 10pm, spreading 54 tonnes of grit. But the council claims the lorries’ progress were slow because of heavy traffic on Tuesday morning. Gritters were on the same routes from 7am on Tuesday morning to try to keep key routes clear.

Police assistance was given on two occasions on Tuesday to enable gritters to carry out operations through the gridlocked traffic owing to the A2 and the A20 becoming impassable at times.

Communications manager Darren Howe, 41, drives from Canterbury to Sidcup on a daily basis which usually takes him one hour but on Tuesday took him three hours. He said: “The problems is people need to know how to drive safely. I came off the A2 into Sidcup and it was treacherous with cars skidding everywhere.”

No roads were closed in Bexley but there were serious delays on the A2 and A20 backing up traffic in smaller roads. The Dartford River Crossing closed with traffic diverted through one of the Dartford tunnels.

Rail firm Southeastern said at least three of its trains travelling from London to Kent on Tuesday night were stuck for around five hours overnight, stranding about 60 passengers. And yesterday (1) services were still heavily affected.

The 8.05pm train from Charing Cross to Hastings on Tuesday night became stuck north of Orpington after the third conductor rail froze over, leaving passengers stranded until 5.30am. Network Rail workers sent another train to try and rescue the stranded one but that became stuck too, resulting in them having to de-ice the rail.

Further delays were caused after British Transport Police found a man’s body hanging from a footbridge at Slade Green train station at 5.31am on Tuesday morning. Paramedics pronounced the man dead at the scene. The incident is currently being treated as unexplained and officers have yet to identify the man believed to be in his 40s.

Bexley’s refuse collection services were cancelled on Tuesday due to the snow with resources being deployed to the Winter Maintenance Operations.

A revised refuse collection timetable is due to be published on the council’s website at www.bexley.gov.uk

Yesterday, Bexley council’s spokesperson said: “Our fleet of four gritters has been treating the borough’s main routes regularly since last Saturday and the drivers have been working around the clock for the past 48 hours.

“We have also moved staff from other duties to help keep busy pedestrian areas safe and clear of snow.

“Gritting the roads on Tuesday proved a slow process, due to the large volume of traffic on the roads. This was aggravated by serious problems on the A2 and A20, which cause congestion to back up onto local routes and meant that a four hour operation took 12 hours to complete.

“The weather conditions have been exceptional. We have already used some 480 tonnes of grit on the borough’s roads and in shopping areas, but we have sufficient stocks and we are as prepared as we can be for the further snow that is forecast.

“We will continue to work as hard as we can to keep the borough’s main roads clear of snow and ice.

“We have also been working to look after our vulnerable residents, to make sure they are well and being provided with appropriate care.”

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