Snow excuse

PUBLISHED: 11:17 21 January 2010 | UPDATED: 14:50 06 May 2010

SIR – In World War II we had rationing. Well progress is a wonderful thing because coming forward 70 years, it s back again. Not food this time but an even more basic commodity, salt! Yes, the recent cold spell has been unprecedented but following last Fe

SIR - In World War II we had rationing. Well progress is a wonderful thing because coming forward 70 years, it's back again.

Not food this time but an even more basic commodity, salt! Yes, the recent cold spell has been unprecedented but following last February's snow, the opposition pleaded with the Labour Government to plan ahead for winter 2010 by stockpiling salt.

As ever, our hapless Government did nothing when it had the time and now, in the face of salt shortages, the PM is seen on TV saying everything is alright. Well if it is, Mr Brown, why on earth has central Government instructed all local councils to ration salt and downgrade use by 25 per cent, especially as the cold spell is having a devastating effect on an already weak economy?

I, for one, have called Herts Highways several times since the first snowfall and implored them to lay salt on our road which both has dangerous bends and steep inclines. I have been promised three times of imminent salting, that our road is a priority and have even been given fault report reference numbers.

Well I can tell your readers that every one of these assurances has been as much use as a chocolate fireguard as nothing has been done. This despite an online fault reporting website check confirming the issues have been resolved!

St Albans roads, or at least 95 per cent of them, remained as perilous at the time of writing as they first were when the mercury dipped below zero weeks ago!

If the Scandinavian countries (who live with snow for several months of the year) behaved as haplessly as the UK, then they would surely be Third World nations now as their economies froze as quickly and deeply as the driven snow.

There is a second, perhaps more lethal consequence of the council's inability to safeguard our roads and that is the resulting pot holes.

Our roads were already more Albanian than St Albanian before the snow. When it thaws, mark my words, they will be riddled with holes which will take months to repair (if ever at all!). That is why I am making a clarion call to the readers of the Herts Advertiser to relentlessly bombard HCC Highways fault reporting line with complaints about snow, lack of gritting and the resultant pot hole hazards until action is taken.

Only with enough people pressure will the council act to resolve problems. The fault reporting number is 01923 471320 or 01438 737320.

So, people of St Albans, do not put up with inefficiency, lies and promises from the councils who charge us so much each year in taxes for these services. Complain, be persistent and determined to make them earn that tax in action to make our roads and pavements safer and less hazardous!

BARRY CASHIN

Green Lane, St Albans

SIR - Salt, and more salt. Yes we need salt to ensure safety of pedestrians and vehicles. But are we aware of the consequences of large and continued amounts of spraying salt? Salt kills trees. Our street trees.

One of the reasons our St Peter's Street plane trees are in such poor condition (and some missing, felled), is because of the excessive use of street salt, essentially poisoning them. I recognise the dilemma. Let's just understand what we do and the repercussions.

DEAN GOODMAN

Franklin Close, St Albans

SIR - I am dismayed at St Albans council's poor service over the Christmas holidays and during the cold weather.

I have not seen a gritter out and due to this our bin men were unable to work because of the snow? I however have been out every night driving my lorry because I have bills to pay, i.e. a ludicrous council tax bill and what am I getting for my money?

Rubbish that has been waiting outside for three weeks to be collected, untreated roads in the icy conditions and when it comes to our roads they really are the worst compared to any I drive on as they are in desperate need of repair.

My final point is that once I was late with one payment of said council tax and had to pay an extra £50 because of this.

Do you think that I should now tell the council I am charging them the same for collecting my rubbish a week late? Maybe if the rest of your readers did the same the council might up its game a bit?

STUART JACOBS

Langley Grove, Sandridge

SIR - I was delighted to read online that Herts County Council had managed to source "extra materials to enable the district councils to grit the pavements".

And that Cllr Stuart Pile, executive member for highways and transport, said that the county council has "been working with districts to clear pavements by hand in priority areas such as town centres".

However, fine words butter no parsnips. On Thursday, January 7, following the latest heavy snowfall on Wednesday and whilst travelling by taxi from St Albans to Hatfield station to get to work in London, I was astonished to see workmen gritting the pavement in Hatfield Road, east (!) of the junction with Ashley Road and Beechwood Avenue.

Whilst I am sure the local residents are very grateful for the special consideration they have been singled out for, I would have thought a higher priority might have been St Albans city centre. As of that Friday night, January 8, none of the pedestrian areas in St Peter's Street and the Market Place had been gritted.

Consequently, come Saturday morning, market stall holders and shoppers braving the cold weather additionally risked life and limb walking on the icy, untreated surfaces. This is not only appallingly bad management of resources by the council but it is also dangerous and bordering on criminal negligence.

Contrast the position in Luton that Friday morning, where all the town centre pavements appeared to have been properly gritted and cleared. For at least the last four years there has consistently been heavy snowfall in Hertfordshire around this time (although this year's "winter weather" has been unusually cold and prolonged). Contingency plans should therefore be in place and stockpiles of suitable materials built up in anticipation of snow and ice. Evidently they are not.

It is well known that climate change may cause exceptional weather (droughts, floods, heat waves and - perhaps counter-intuitively - cold spells), so if global warming is taking place, we can expect more of the same in future.

Regardless, it has always snowed in this country and always will, and council tax payers should expect local councils to take at least the bare minimum actions to protect the health and wellbeing of all local residents.

TONY CROOK

Fishpool Street, St Albans

SIR - I would like to send a huge thank you to the two knights in shining armour who came to my rescue on the morning of January 12 on Jennings Road, when my car just refused to budge on the ice. So appreciated... chivalry is alive and well in St Albans!

KIM DEEGAN

Brampton Road, St Albans

SIR - Haven't our postman been wonderful? Despite the snow, ice and freezing cold they have managed, without fail, to deliver our mail every morning. My wife and I are full of praise for their determination to see that we are so well served and the risks they take doing so. Our man, Jason, rides a bike when he can and, if not, then he trudges a distance of a couple miles or more carrying a heavy mailbag. Perhaps some recognition of their sterling work should be made by our MP and mayor?

JOHN MILES

West Common, Harpenden

SIR - I think those who complain of poor road and pavement clearance are being a little unfair on the county council. They stated in a circular to all homes before Christmas that 61 gritting vehicles were working flat out. I believe them.

Since then they have been repairing the pot holes caused by the freezing weather incredibly quickly, some have been done more than once as they were repaired between the snow falls. OK it's only the bad areas that need doing more than once and why are they like that to start with is another question, but credit where due.

The county circular also suggested clearing ones own snow and help those unable, this applies to shop keepers too. How many actually did? Where is the good Samaritan attitude? Dig out the car but do the adjoining pavement at the same time before it is compacted and becomes hard work.

Back to the circular, it pointed out that you cannot be sued if someone slips on your section of pavement. A front page of the Telegraph around New Year desperate for a headline said that according to the Institute of Health and Safety Officers you could be. Who would you believe - a newspaper or the county council?

I heard from a councillor in a neighbouring borough that much of the snow could easily have been ploughed away in secondary roads with blades kept in their depots specially for the purpose and fitted quickly on to standard council trucks. Why was this not done? The 1,000s of speed humps make it impossible.

Remember however the postmen, milkmen and national newspapers and others that seemed to get through regardless of the weather when countless others cried off.

LESLIE FREITAG

Cravells Road, Harpenden


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