Hampton Ward Newsletter: March 2018
The recent spell of severe weather has stretched our resources beyond the limit. With over 2000 miles of roads in the county and 600 miles designated as priority routes for snow and ice clearing, the logistics of attempting to keep our entire road network clear of snow, was challenging to say the least.
Recent years have seen some falls of snow, but never as severe as we’ve just experienced and never coupled with such high winds. This resulted in enormous snow drifts that had the effect of actually blocking some of our major roads, which was an extremely rare occurrence. The minor rural roads took an enormous hit, with some exposed sections being completely blocked with 2m high drifts.
We have access to 15 gritting trucks, that can all be adapted with snow ploughs, 3 purpose-built snow blowers and we employ 42 local contractors, mostly farmers, who have access to the necessary equipment required to help clear our more rural roads.
Unfortunately, the amount of snow that fell in such a short time, especially where it built up into large drifts, completely overwhelmed us. The snow ploughs and snow blowers were all deployed on 12 hour, back-to-back shifts.
The hard-pressed staff managed to keep most of the ‘A’ road network open, although in places it was only a single lane, but at least a large number of our shops and services were able to keep going, if only in a limited way.
Some of our more rural villages remained snowed in for longer than was expected, especially by the residents and I expect to be challenged about our shortcomings over the next few weeks when I attend your next Parish Council meetings. However, actually being able to reach these outlying areas with the necessary equipment was extremely difficult, especially when the snow ploughs encountered unreported and abandoned vehicles buried in the drifts, which were impossible to move as they had been left locked!
We were not suffering alone of course, as the main TV and radio news stations constantly reported, with many other towns and villages in the UK being equally badly hit. Fortunately, the rapid thaw has come as a blessed relief, but coupled with the heavy rain that followed, local flooding then became an additional problem.
However, at the time of writing, all is now returning back to normal. Spring is almost here and the recent problems will soon be just a memory as we look forward to seeing fresh growth in the surrounding fields and in our gardens, with time to remember just why we chose to live in this beautiful county and continue to enjoy the many benefits of country living.
Cllr Bruce Baker