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Should we spend more to stop snow disruption?

09:17 UK time, Monday, 20 December 2010

Thousands of people face further disruption to their Christmas travel plans as cold weather conditions continue to grip much of the country. Should we have been more prepared?

Shadow chancellor Alan Johnson has criticised the transport secretary Philip Hammond for not implementing the recommendations of a report he commissioned by David Quarmby, chair of the RAC, which set out proposals to prevent major disruption from adverse weather conditions.

However, the transport secretary has asked the government's own chief scientific adviser for advice on whether the government should be planning for more severe weather in future.

Should we have been more prepared for severe weather conditions? Is travel disruption an inevitable consequence of winter weather? Should more money be spent on planning for severe weather conditions? Have your travel plans been disrupted?

This debate is closed. Thank you for your comments.

Comments

Page 1 of 10

  • Comment number 1.

    We need a decent infrastructure, proper coordination between the agencies supporting it, and proper equipment for dealing with the weather we can always anticipate.

    As a wake up call, winter doesn't officially start until tomorrow. If we cannot cope with autumn wintry weather what hope February?

  • Comment number 2.

    It is not necessary to spend any more money on measures against snow, Scientists have told us that because of global warming our children won't actually know what snow looks like.

  • Comment number 3.

    NO! (well maybe just a teeny bit, for more grit n stuff) I sort of love the chaos it causes, but then I'm not trying to fly anywhere. I think more investment is needed in the airports but surely that's down to them them, not us by way of taxes.
    As for the rest of it I think we need to see if winters are going to continue this harsh & if they're going to get worse. we CAN cope with winters like this with the resources we have, we just need to be better prepared & we need a bit more practice!
    If it really seems that the winters are going to get worse then a bit more investment may be needed, but for the meantime I say we just try & enjoy it. LOL, even south London could be Vienna this morning, it's beautiful ;)

  • Comment number 4.

    We are in recession. We need to promote smarter working, improved job management and remote working.

    There is little point spending loads on winter weather if there is little return. Inspiring people to look after each other and help their neighbours would be a good move. Although there are bound to be a lot of complaining lazy people if such an idea is suggested

  • Comment number 5.

    Certainly if our winters are going to become more severe we may need to spend more, but will the public be happy with paying taxes to cover that?

    However much is spent, if the weather is severe enough, other countries also do not always cope when they are supposed to be used to dealing with such matters.

    Our rather sad railways would work with steam locomotives, and I bet a few private individuals and companies would be delighted to loan out their engines, which would run quite happily with a snow plough attached to the front. But that would probably upset the environmentalists. Much better to be stuck on pathetic little electric trains all night.

    And I understand in in our windless state at the moment when fuel consumption must be at its height and our wind farms bearly working, that we will build more wind farms, and then spend even more money on gas power stations to back up the wind farms. Of course, you can't just start up a gas power station when you need it - it has to run all the time.

    Oh goody. What else can we blow our money on?

    Can anyone tell me what their solar panels are doing at the moment whilst covered in snow, please?

  • Comment number 6.

    This issue is an annual event. The country is broke so the probability never mind possibility of getting any improvement is NIL. Its not worth talking about. The millions of potholes consequent to the snow freezing conditions which will appear early Spring also will take money we don't have to fill (and even then a shovel of tarmac trod into a puddle is not a proper repair)Our infrastructure continues its 30 year descent into 3rd world standard.

  • Comment number 7.

    It really is not a question of money - it is a question of total incompetence everywhere! Every time any news channel interviews any 'official' spokesperson for either the Government, the Airports, the Local Authorities, the Railways or the airlines we just get bombarded with excuse, evasion, and distraction - none of these 'representatives' should be in their jobs!

    Get some competent people to sort out the consequences of winter - it really is not difficult to achieve - folk have been 'dealing' with such adverse weather for generations! Why not send all these folk on a 'training course' in Siberia?

  • Comment number 8.

    Up until a couple of years ago we hadn't experienced any significant snow fall for decades so investing in fleets of snow ploughs etc. would have been foolhardy in the extreme.

    http://www.napier.eclipse.co.uk/weather/bonacina.html

    However, if scientists now believe that severe winter weather is to become the norm for the UK then it would make sense to spend more money on equipment to stop the snow disruption.

  • Comment number 9.

    Should we spend more to stop snow disruption?

    I suspect that the government will use the winter bad weather as an excuse to invent more taxes, like they did will global warming.

  • Comment number 10.

    5. At 09:49am on 20 Dec 2010, ruffled_feathers wrote:

    Can anyone tell me what their solar panels are doing at the moment whilst covered in snow, please?


    My solar panels will be thoroughly cleaned when the thaw comes and will be in pristine condition for the Spring/Summer when they generate the majority of their solar power.

    And by the way, thank you very much for paying extra money on your energy bills so that I can receive the generous feed-in tariff payments from the electricity suppliers.

  • Comment number 11.

    We used to have long cold snowy winters back in the 1940's 50's and 60's where I lived in the Midlands. The roads got snow-ploughed, salted and gritted and life went on. Nowadays even the lightest snowfall seems to bring everything grinding to a halt. Just shows what a third world country we have become!

  • Comment number 12.

    10. At 10:10am on 20 Dec 2010, Red Robbo wrote:
    5. At 09:49am on 20 Dec 2010, ruffled_feathers wrote:

    Can anyone tell me what their solar panels are doing at the moment whilst covered in snow, please?

    My solar panels will be thoroughly cleaned when the thaw comes and will be in pristine condition for the Spring/Summer when they generate the majority of their solar power.

    And by the way, thank you very much for paying extra money on your energy bills so that I can receive the generous feed-in tariff payments from the electricity suppliers.

    ===============================================================
    As frequently with the green lobby you haven't answered the contributors question have you? With windmills dead (no wind) and solar panels dead(snow covered & no sun) temperatures at minus 10 where is your electricity coming from NOW, while you freeze to death. What your solar panels do in 3 months from now is totally irrelevant (you just froze to death) !!!

  • Comment number 13.

    It depends if this weather is going to be regular or not. If not then money would just be wasted.

  • Comment number 14.

    Absolutely.

    The government are doing just that by spending at least (subject to overruns and over-budget costs) £12 BILLION on the new high speed rail link, which will ensure those travelling between London and Birmingham can do so 30 minutes faster and not be trapped by the snow - provided it's the right kind of snow.

    As for the rest of us, hard luck.

  • Comment number 15.

    Its ridiculous that Heathrow and Gatwick get shut down.
    Take a look at the equipment and management of the runways by Nordic countries, who suffer far more severe wetaher conditions.
    Our major airports are awash with cash - there is no excuse for this incompetence.
    As for imprisoning people on planes for 6-8 hours - this is a complete outrage and legal action should be considered...

  • Comment number 16.

    I'm not sure we need to spend any more money on snow clearance but we do need to change our attitudes and how we react. I can remember when I was young, after a severe snowfall most people would be be out with spades, shovels and brooms clearing the snow away from their paths and and roads, which was very much a community activity. This meant most people could go about their daily business, getting to work, going to the shops, almost as usual. Now it seems people just stay indoors waiting for the snow to thaw, moaning about how badly the country copes with bad weather.

  • Comment number 17.

    Living high up on the North Downs we often get snow when others a couple of miles away dont. That's one reason I drive a 4x4. I've been able to get around OK, the problem with the roads has been drivers not able to understand the limitations of their vehicles or themselves. I don't think spending money in this area will help at all.

    The railways south of London are largly powered by the third rail system. A foot of snow will always defeat it. To change it to overhead powered - nobody is going to accept diesel or steam powered trains - would be enormously expensive. Not only in providing new trains and the overhead lines but in infrastructure changes to give additional space under bridges and through tunnels for the overhead power line. I dont see us ever having the money to change this.

    Airports? Thats a private matter, nothing to do with the government. Would you all accept a levy on your airfares to pay for additional snowplows and de-icing equipment?

    So, no, I don't think we should spend more as a country but maybe more as individuals. Get the right car/tyres/chains and know how to use them. Accept that the third rail trains will never cope with large amounts of snow and pay more for your flights to make sure the airports stay open.

  • Comment number 18.

    Typical UK establishment. Lack of investment, lack of planning, and worse of all, a lack of care.
    The gang in charge should spend more, but not simply charge us more. I'd like to know how much is spent on all the other stuff they don't tell us about.

  • Comment number 19.

    Once again we are being kept in a UK bubble by the media. You will find European airports are having exactly the same problems if you care to Google 'Snow disruption Europe'.

    It would appear that some of the disruption in UK airports was not the snow so much as a 'not my problem' contest amongst the main players.
    The real question is not just this cold snap, but why have we become rubbish at handling anything, whether there is a crisis or not? It's not less regulation we want, it's more legal requirements on companies to protect the consumer. To much profit, not enough care.

  • Comment number 20.

    It's looking like more should be spent BUT while I sit cosy at home, hearing of utter chaos at Heathrow Airport, disgust and anger swoop over me. The current situation affecting passengers makes Hurricane Katrina pale into insignificance. BAA should be sued for expecting folk, especially elderly and infirm, to sleep on floors swathed in tin-foil like turkeys ready for the oven. One does have to wonder if airport officials tasked with communicating information to passengers are suffering from lock-jaw or their mouths are frozen. And why has the airport stopped people from taking photographs? Hmmm, all very suspect. Warm thoughts to those stranded in and out of the airport - hope you get basic humanitarian help as soon as possible. Is BAA scared of having spend a few quid from their annual profits? Shame on them!

  • Comment number 21.

    No, Just make sure your elderly or infirm neighbours are ok and help out where you can, then enjoy it. It is such a rare occurrence and most of us do pretty ordinary jobs. It is a good opportunity to have some fun and to realise how false our jobs are.

    Go paly with the children!

  • Comment number 22.

    5. At 09:49am on 20 Dec 2010, ruffled_feathers wrote:

    and then spend even more money on gas power stations to back up the wind farms. Of course, you can't just start up a gas power station when you need it - it has to run all the time."

    Actually that's not true.

    Gas power stations can be started up within a few seconds (they use gas turbines - similar to jet engines). That few seconds is covered by pumped-hydro which can start up almost instantly. The pumped-hydro can be used to store some of the excess energy from wind. However, pumped-hydro can not supply all of the UK's power needs, even for a few seconds - but it can match the supply from wind for long enough to get the gas turbines going.

    Coal & Nuclear cannot be started up quickly when needed, and do need to be kept idling.

    The big problem we have is that gas supplies are limited, and getting more expensive. Longer term we will have to use more renewables, coal & nuclear. The only renewables which are reasonably predicatable are hydro and geothermal, both of which will be very expensive in the UK.

    So, when gas runs out, or becomes uneconomic for electricity generation, there will be a big problem with wind generation, because there will be nothing which can quickly take over any slack.

  • Comment number 23.

    14. At 10:23am on 20 Dec 2010, Mr Wonderful wrote:
    Absolutely.

    The government are doing just that by spending at least (subject to overruns and over-budget costs) £12 BILLION on the new high speed rail link, which will ensure those travelling between London and Birmingham can do so 30 minutes faster and not be trapped by the snow - provided it's the right kind of snow.

    As for the rest of us, hard luck.
    ====================================
    Never heard a single non-politician in favour of the high speed rail link.
    Why are we spending £12bn on this irrelevance. I cant believe it makes any difference to business efficiency. Nobody is going to believe Birmingham is a suburb of London. Why wreck masses of green-belt country side for sucha white elephant?

  • Comment number 24.

    19. At 10:29am on 20 Dec 2010, piscator wrote:
    Once again we are being kept in a UK bubble by the media. You will find European airports are having exactly the same problems if you care to Google 'Snow disruption Europe'.

    It would appear that some of the disruption in UK airports was not the snow so much as a 'not my problem' contest amongst the main players.
    The real question is not just this cold snap, but why have we become rubbish at handling anything, whether there is a crisis or not? It's not less regulation we want, it's more legal requirements on companies to protect the consumer. To much profit, not enough care.
    ======================================================

    Bang on analysis.....recommended!!!

  • Comment number 25.

    We need to do more to help ourselves. The traffic would move more freely if eveyone took the trouble to find out how to drive on ice and snow. Most of the time, people in stuck cars sit in first gear with their foot on the throttle spinning the wheels. Exactly the way to make it worse. Go out and take a session on a skid pan or stay at home when it snows.

    I was trapped in a grid locked queue with everyone round about moaning and asking where the gritters and the police were. Then a group of Eastern Europeans got out of their car and started pushing the cars that were stuck. Soon the traffic was moving again. Help yourself and help others.

  • Comment number 26.

    Having lived for many years in Ukraine and Northern Canada, which spend about a third of the year in Arctic conditions, I have to say that they encounter similar difficulties, regardless of their preparations. Transport systems regularly ground to a halt. However, because it was an annual occurrence, they mobilise vastly more resources (with Babooshkas regularly taking to the pavements with brushes, to keep them passable). They also stock more machinery because they EXPECT to receive large amounts of snow. Consequently, they are able to reach some form of normality quicker than us.
    Other countries are encountering similar problems, with airports closed and rail systems paralysed.
    Throwing money at it would be a bit like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. What happens if the next 3 winters are mild?!!
    Our forecasting needs to be better, to enable us time to prepare.
    I always use the BBC website to plan my activities, because it is 100% always wrong! If it forecasts rain at a weekend, I know I can plan a BBQ or picnic!!!
    Accurate long range weather forcasting would be a good start in preventing the mayhem we see now.

  • Comment number 27.

    Hammond has said its a matter of allocating and prioritizing scarce resources.

    Perhaps,Mr Hammond we would have more resources to allocate if some taxpayers paid what they should instead of using the system to reduce their personal tax bill....I think you would have to agree with that Mr Hammond.

  • Comment number 28.

    The Swedish get it right?

    I am getting rather fed up with the British media comparing us to Sweden and saying "why are we so useless?"

    Here is some reality checks:

    1. Sweden has a much smaller population
    2. In Sweden where snow is an issue, people do not commute huge distances to work - they live nearby
    3. Snowploughs in Sweden DO NOT clear roads - they keep the surface flat
    4. Everyone uses snow chains and changes tyres every winter.

    Lastly, despite a completely wrong article in the Telegraph and many other papers, Sweden has been suffering from:

    • Power cuts
    • Drivers stuck in snow
    • Airport closures and Cancellations

    Sound familiar??


    Now, everyone go buy snow-chains and stop complaining that the government is not holding your hand and giving out hot water bottles !

  • Comment number 29.

    I find it interesting that the plethora of privatised companies including rail service, airports, buses and Council services are failing to cope with the snow and yet the Nationalised post Office continues to deliver my letters.

    Speaks volumes about the inherent conflict of profit before service.

  • Comment number 30.

    "20. At 10:31am on 20 Dec 2010, Susan wrote:
    It's looking like more should be spent BUT while I sit cosy at home, hearing of utter chaos at Heathrow Airport, disgust and anger swoop over me. The current situation affecting passengers makes Hurricane Katrina pale into insignificance. BAA should be sued for expecting folk, especially elderly and infirm, to sleep on floors swathed in tin-foil like turkeys ready for the oven."

    Yea, I bet those people who lost literally everything in Katrina, including a significant chunk of their family, are really looking at pictures of people who have been prevented from flying out on a Christmas holiday and thinking "what unfortunate souls. Maybe we need a charity gig to help them".

  • Comment number 31.

    After suffering snow, sleet, rain and consistently freezing temperatures, the Met Office has officially recognised winter 2009-10 as the coldest in 31 years. Most of Europe and indeed many other parts of the world seem to be suffering much the same.

    However, there is no need to worry and no need to invest any money in solving next winters problems as everything we are experiencing is an illusion and we are in fact sitting on the beach enjoying a nice spot of global warming. Ice cream anyone?

  • Comment number 32.

    The government should encourage (or even mandate) winter tyre use.

    Councils can only do so much about gritting & clearing roads. They cannot possibly clear all roads - even if they had the gritters to do it, too many ill-equipped cars are blocking the roads. They should concentrate on clearing the main roads, and winter tyres (plus chains in DEEP snow) will do the rest.

    In lying snow, a 2 wheel-drive car with winter tyres will out-perform a 4x4 with summer/all-weather tyres on. The long-term cost is minimal, especially if everyone has them, as you just sell them on (and any extra wheels you may have needed) when you sell your car.

    Many tyre manufacturers and dealers are even saying that, in the UK, if you only want one set of tyres, you should probably get winter tyres. Below 7 degrees, summer tyres are dangerous. Above 7 degrees winter tyres work fine, but below 7 degrees, summer tyres have virtually no grip, and our climate here isn't so hot that winter tyres would be bad even in summer.

    So, we should join Germany, Scandinavia, Canada etc and require winter tyres in winter.

  • Comment number 33.

    We need useful up to date and correct information to be broadcast. Repeating the same old information over and over again is of little value to the public.

    The Transport Minister in Scotland lost his job because there was a 'first class' reponse to the severe weather experienced last week. He was out of touch with the real and ever changing situation and none of the warnings were acted upon. You all saw what happened in the central belt of Scotland.

    The public needs to be better informed even if it means interupting programmes or using a ticker at the bottom of the screen and News websites updated frequently, not when someone in a back room decides to type a few more lines. I keep in touch with the weather and travel and frequently find that the information in some cases is a day old.

    The police in my view should take the lead in these situations and tell people to stay off the roads instead of only travel if absolutley necessary. This sends out the wrong message and people think their journey to the supermarket for a few bits and pieces is necessary.

    There has been a distinct lack of information and when it is available it is either wrong or out of date. Yesterday we were told on the BBC Weather Forecast that snow would clear in the East of Scotland late last night. Between 11pm and 1am we had blizzard conditions here. The current weather and travel situation should be a priority to keep the country moving as all to often we have witnessed the consequenses of lack of information.

    A gritter/snowplough appeared in my street which is a through road at 8.30pm on Saturday night prior to the expected heavy snowfall forecast. When I looked out a few minutes later I was aware that NO grit had been spread. Fife council have advised that they have only 4000 tonnes left and are not expecting to receive any new stocks of grit and salt until the New Year. So much for being well prepared.

    We really need joined up thinking as the different agencies are acting independently and are blaming each other for the chaos. Mind you the public don't help when there are clear warnings to stay at home.

    Since the bad weather started 3 weeks ago I have been out in my car twice and have ventured out on foot 4 times. I am not elderly but I do heed the warnings.

  • Comment number 34.

    I wrote in a post here why Britain is so unprepared for snow. I mentioned a theory about long term climate prediction. My post was of course removed. Now, I don't like to believe in conspiracies, but sometimes you have just got to wonder...

  • Comment number 35.

    19. At 10:29am on 20 Dec 2010, piscator wrote:
    Once again we are being kept in a UK bubble by the media. You will find European airports are having exactly the same problems if you care to Google 'Snow disruption Europe'.

    It would appear that some of the disruption in UK airports was not the snow so much as a 'not my problem' contest amongst the main players.
    The real question is not just this cold snap, but why have we become rubbish at handling anything, whether there is a crisis or not? It's not less regulation we want, it's more legal requirements on companies to protect the consumer. To much profit, not enough care.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    I couldn't have put it better myself. Spot on!

  • Comment number 36.

    Here we are bailing out the banks, the Irish (sorry lads) and spending BILLIONS on weapons, not to mention a war we are loosing and oh yea, Foreign Aid.

    YES we should be getting the proper equipment. I saw on the news this titchy little snow plough on the runway at an airport. Our roads are skating rinks.

    Wake up Cameron and Co, do something right for a change!

  • Comment number 37.

    Since the British Media are hiding the reality of life in Sweden, here is what the Swedish Press are saying about Sweden:

    (Extracts from The Local - Swedish online news service)

    Winter once again wreaks havoc across Sweden

    Power outages, traffic accidents as well as train and flight delays have left Swedes reeling from Thursday’s snowstorm, which forecasters say isn’t over yet.


    Swedes were coping with yet another round of fierce winter weather on Sunday as a band of snow showers moved north across the country, sending cars off the roads and dumping up to 20 centimetres of fresh snow in its wake.

    According to meteorology agency SMHI, heavy snow and strong winds are expected to continue into the evening along much of Sweden’s Baltic coast.

    The day’s snow has caused dozens of traffic accidents, with 26 being reported in the Stockholm-area alone.

    “We’ve just been inundated with accidents in the last few hours,” said police spokesperson Ulf Lindgren, warning for difficult driving conditions on both large and small roads.

    “It’s a good idea not to drive a car unless you have to. If you have to go out, drive safely, keep your distance and make sure you have good tyres.”

  • Comment number 38.

    The moment it snows many roads become completely full of standing traffic, for reasons not entirely clear.

    So if every driver carried a shovel and cleared the bit of road around his vehicle, these roads would be completely open, it would seem.

    The same goes for densely populated residential areas and the roads and pavements there.

  • Comment number 39.

    The real problem is that there too many cars on the road in this small island. Also more people commute and even have to drive to get their food etc. It's bad enough on our motorways even when the sun is shining. It doesn't take much to bring everything to a grinding halt.
    We have organised our way of life around the car.
    It took me 12 hours to get home from Hampshie on Saturday. All caused by the sheer volume of traffic in unusual conditions.

  • Comment number 40.

    "8. At 10:06am on 20 Dec 2010, Red Robbo wrote:

    Up until a couple of years ago we hadn't experienced any significant snow fall for decades so investing in fleets of snow ploughs etc. would have been foolhardy in the extreme."

    This daft, accountants-answer is trotted out every year. It makes no sense whatever. If we "invested" in fleets of snow ploughs, they would be available for use whenever needed. This would, of course, make life easier for everyone and, just to appease the bean-counters, would undoubtedly save business all those "costs" it incurs whenever anything happens.

    The main point, however, is that even if we had a fleet of snow ploughs that were, say, 35 years old - so what? They would have seen only a few weeks' use, possibly a few days, some years, and would be very far from worn out. If we had a series of mild winters, they would last almost indefinitely. Why is this a problem. For decades we maintained fleets of Green Goddess fire tenders that were rarely needed. Why can we not maintain fleets of snow ploughs on the same basis?

    Answer - because if we did, people could move about freely even in severe weather, and if there is one thing Governments hate it is the idea of people moving about. Look at the dire public transport, the appalling roads and the endless war on the motorist. Can no-one see the pattern here? They want us all stuck in our own localities, just like in the days of Stasi East Germany, they just daren't come out and tell us the truth.

  • Comment number 41.

    And another thing! (Am on a roll here lol) It used to be that gritters prepared roads for drivers just by using the old fashioned method of initiative. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe nowadays they are hindered by what a computer says concerning temperature, duration and expected snowfall and/or ice, triggering gritting. Fortunately, though we've had snow, it's nothing compared to mainland levels, but if it was - I'd be out there with a shovel! According to our forecast a hefty violent storm brewing will scour the place of ice, snow, top-soil ... and stop all flights and ferries. Oh sweet joy!

  • Comment number 42.

    "23. At 10:34am on 20 Dec 2010, sixpackerL wrote:

    14. At 10:23am on 20 Dec 2010, Mr Wonderful wrote:
    Absolutely.

    The government are doing just that by spending at least (subject to overruns and over-budget costs) £12 BILLION on the new high speed rail link, which will ensure those travelling between London and Birmingham can do so 30 minutes faster and not be trapped by the snow - provided it's the right kind of snow.

    As for the rest of us, hard luck.
    ====================================
    Never heard a single non-politician in favour of the high speed rail link.
    Why are we spending £12bn on this irrelevance. I cant believe it makes any difference to business efficiency. Nobody is going to believe Birmingham is a suburb of London. Why wreck masses of green-belt country side for sucha white elephant?"

    You are absolutely correct, Mr sixpackerL, it's a total waste of money. But, I can tell you that a friend of mine, a non-politician who lives in Warrington (nowhere near the proposed line) is actively campaigning in favour of it. So there you are - one non-politician. I personally believe he is barmy, and have told him so - several times.

  • Comment number 43.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 44.

    Get rid of all the non-jobs and a load of politicians and spend the money saved on griting etc.

    I am fed up with paying these people to tell me how to live, when the fact is that every time it snows I can't do anything.

    And where are all these H&S and Human Rights types when it comes to being killed and maimed on the roads and footpaths? Nowhere, as usual.

  • Comment number 45.

    There is no point investing anything in this country. First off, the politicians will make a right hash of it. Secondly, every sad, lonely NIMBY whinger comes crawling out of the woodwork at the first hint of progress. "I don't want a railway/power station/gritting depot/wind turbine/reservoir within 3 miles of my protected view of the countryside!" The reason this country is marching valiantly backwards into third world status is down to the pure selfish stupidity of so many of its residents.

  • Comment number 46.

    Maybe a little extra investment would help but I don't think its a lack of money causing problems. When airlines and rail are disrupted by heavy snow people accept that there's not much that can be done until the snow stops. What people really want is better information and to be treated with a little less contempt by airlines and operators. A little food and a few blankets would go a long way. Plus a bit of honesty.

    On the roads, people have to take a larger share of responsibility themselves. Snowploughs can't get down a road choked with traffic. Grit isn't much use against heavy snow and very cold temperatures. People seem to act as if the severe weather warnings only apply to other people. I live in Oxford and on Saturday the A34 was closed with hundreds trapped in cars for hours. I just don't believe that all those journeys were vital ( altho I'm sure *yours* was, obviously). The whole day was summed up when I saw a woman at the side of the road brushing feebly at her windscreen with her bare hands as she had neither gloves nor a scraper. She'd gone out shopping in the worst weather for ages totally unprepared and no amount of government spending can compensate for that sort of behaviour.

  • Comment number 47.

    20. At 10:31am on 20 Dec 2010, Susan wrote:
    ...The current situation affecting passengers makes Hurricane Katrina pale into insignificance....
    =========================================
    I agree with a lot of your points but how on earth can you state the above?
    An airport closed for a few days vs a massive nature disaster effecting 10's of thousands of people...

  • Comment number 48.

    Just pushing more money into out transport infrastruccture, will do little, we only need to stand back and look at how buisy all the systems are, roads often are full to the brim with cars etc. one cue, no matter what causes it, causes problems else where. Airports are full of planes, hence many cannot land as no space available to park that in turn affects the planes return flight. Our railway system is a dinasoar designed for the old steam trains, not forgeting the miss management for decades by all governments.

    Sadly yes our over dependancy upon our road and air transport infrastructure is the key to freeing most of the systems. In the end though we also need to be more aware of our climate, knowing we often have much more humidity in our weather, than many other countries, hence freezing will affect us worse than the dry frosty air that many inland colder climates expeience.

  • Comment number 49.

    To #30 - It was after I pressed the publish button I remembered I should have acknowledged the lives lost at that time. Please accept my apologies for that.

  • Comment number 50.

    Quite what the BAA are for is beyond me. I have worked at Heathrow for nearly 40 years now. The BAA are a monolithic money sucking creature who run a third world airport held together with frayed carpets and terrible passenger facilities, until of course you go beyond security, where retailers enjoy the finest of facilities, retailers from which BAA extract enormous sums of money. In the winter, the heating doesnt work, in the summer of course the air conditioning doesent work, what works is the myriad BAA staff figuring out how to extract even more more money from their customers. At the BAA offices in Heathrow Point, rumour has it there is a room , with a sign, "How to screw the airlines" its very busy in there ,....................

  • Comment number 51.

    Working in Germany I see some differences in the way the public treat snow and disruption. One issue that we should all take into account is that snow falls and when it is deep enough even in Europe they have problems so stop blaming politicians becuse they did not clean your street. What a bunch of namby pambies the UK has become.

    Here people get out snow shovels and clean their path and there is no argument or public announcement to do so. It is realised that if they all do it then we all get aout okay. Next snow tyres must be used and this, for the thick insurance companies, helps grip in cold wether conditions and stops accidents, IT IS NOT A MODIFICATION TO THE VEHICLE!!!!! So stop charging for this.

    The local council workers come out and clear bus stops, crossing etc and they pay a little to garden companies or centres who have 4 wheel drives or trucks to put a snow plough on the front to help clear side roads.

    At the moment in West Germany the snow has stopped all traffic but everyone knows that in time, note in time not now, it will be cleared. Even at the airports.

    I see gritters out at 6am, I get up for work then, on the main streets only ensuring bus services run and there seems to be no delays.

    European airports have to invest in snow ploughs and de icing as happens in Scandinavia but these are private investments not Tax money. They work effectively, I know I have landed in heavy snowfall in Bergen and it did not present any problem to the pilot, I know they are used to it but maybe this should become training for UK based pilots.

    Do not spend more taxes, get off your backside and help clear the streets, you are not helpless and do not need a nannie state to wipe up after you.

    PS when I was in China I saw the same thing, the community cleaning streets. I thought it happened because they were told to do so but my Chinese wife tells me everyone feels it is common sense. Well I never.....

  • Comment number 52.

    I would say this is a perfect argument for why we do need big government - not lots of devolved little bits and communities all struggling to make things work just to the end of their drives. Today we need centralised planning that links all our infrastructure so that airports, rail, road, police and emergency services and forcasting agencies co-ordinate. We need someone to take overall responsibilty for the pathetic failure to communicate - always one of the biggest gripes when things go wrong. Surely it wasn't really true as reported yesterday that the police did a runner in the M40 when too many people started asking questions. Exactly the same time last year all this happened, and have lessons been learned?. Action is needed from people who understand how to lead, not how to initiate a "review"

  • Comment number 53.

    Does this not prove what a third world nation we live in?

    Thousands lying on airport floors, roads closed, no grit, no snowploughs, no planes.

    Obviously the time has come for action, and if it means spending a few million on getting the place activated then do it.

    I should have been on my way to Belgium right now via the tunnel for 3 important business meetings, I aborted even if I got there it was odds on I would not get back.

    This could have lost me some business, who do I sue?

  • Comment number 54.

    I'd happily pay for a gag for the Highways Agency spokesperson - I did 200 miles on various motorways over the weekend in West yorkshire, South yorkshire and Lancashire/Cheshire - not a single problem, a sprinkling of snow on the verges, but the constant advice was 'only travel if absolutely necessary' - why? It was no different to driving in July!

    Start giving more focussed advice and I'll start listening.

  • Comment number 55.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 56.

    29. At 10:40am on 20 Dec 2010, Pete wrote:
    I find it interesting that the plethora of privatised companies including rail service, airports, buses and Council services are failing to cope with the snow and yet the Nationalised post Office continues to deliver my letters.

    Speaks volumes about the inherent conflict of profit before service.
    =============================================================
    Yawn, where I live we've experienced different levels of service and seen the post office the least but I didn't think to blame that on it being nationalised. Strange that the private couriers are still delivering. Must be a disdain for safety in the relentless pursuit of profit whereas the post office functioning is an example of public service...........

  • Comment number 57.

    #47 - While I've apologised for my omission in remembering to acknowledge the tragic loss of life during that hurricane - I feel justified in equating both events (excluding the loss of life). Many thousands of people are being affected by the current weather conditions - not just in the UK.

  • Comment number 58.

    No we should not spend more. We should ensure that British management manage. They should be talking to each other about what can be done not who's fault it is nothing is being done to clear this or that stretch of road, car park, hospital entrance, doctors entrance. BAA have shown themselves to be complete incompetents (but what can you expect from a foreign owned firm that is not based in the UK and is only interested in the bottom line?).

    So we've had two abnormal years in a row. How often in living memory has that happened? We go years when the most that large swathes of England get is a centimetre or two and a couple of dozen hard frosts. We shouldn't be spending huge amounts on plant that's rarely needed. As I say what is needed is flexible management rather than the blame passing and rigidity of the jobsworth that is the hallmark of British management.

    Let's also wait and see what the Chief Scientist has to report to Hammond who's aked him to look at the likely long term weather patterns.

    As for Johnson. The best thing he could do is hibernate until after the next election.

  • Comment number 59.

    Here is the answer.

    Round up all the politicians, lay them down on the roads and runways.

    Use all the hot air they spout to melt the ice :-)

  • Comment number 60.

    How can you prepare for the worst December weather in decades? If we gear up for the totally unexpected and unusual the costs and tax implications don't bear thinking about. In the meantime individuals could do more about the situation by taking more personal responsibility. How about getting up earlier, planning the route with more intelligence, checking the car over beforehand, fitting chains/snow tyres, dressing appropriately, ensuring they buy heating oil in good time and not always blaming everyone else? Yes, I know it's difficult where so many people are now totally benefit & help dependent and unable to take charge or accept responsibility for their own lives but Government cannot and should not do everything for everyone. Our nanny over-involved state is killing enterprise, individual initiative and any sense of personal accountability.

  • Comment number 61.

    As an island race, we will always be subject to the vagaries of the weather, unlike other parts of the world at our latitude where the land mass is so vast that conditions such as we have now are an annual event.

    Preparing for severe conditions has therefore to have its limitations in the UK as, on the basis that we might get this weather every 20-30 years, there is no merit storing expensive machinery everywhere only to find that it has become too old to use the next time it is needed. Insurance and maintenance costs while out of action would also need to be taken into account, and we simply cannot afford that kind of luxury given the state Labour left our finances in.

    Kitting ourselves with winter tyres and snow chains would be an expensive and undesirable proposition for many and, having used the latter from time to time on the Continent, they were awkward to fit and remove. A long-distance motorist might find himself switching from winter tyres/snow chains and back again several times before reaching his destination, as he passes through regions free of snow and ice.

    The trouble with cars today lies in their design. Modern tyres and engine performances of two-wheel drives are now such that the merest touch of throttle or brakes leads to skidding and sliding. Older contributors to HYS will remember the lack of power of family saloons in the 1950s, and the different tyre treads that offered better grip in snow and ice. We got around very well in 1962-63's winter, and most roads weren't salted as they are now. Maybe cars should have a crawler gear in future.

    Those stuck at Heathrow, etc need to realize that air travel is not a human right, and that their decision to fly is not a matter of life and death, either. Unfortunate, but that's the way it is. Just put it down to bad luck. They should also remember that air travel was once only for the wealthy, and that the majority of families travelled to relatives by car or train, and even then had to abandon journeys if the weather got too bad.

    In a nutshell, forking out yet more public money to cope with conditions that have a 1:30 chance of repeating themselves cannot be justified.

  • Comment number 62.

    Its been said so many times on here im sick of seeing it. We dont need another sack load of cash throwing at the problem, what it really needs is good pld fashioned logic and elbow grease.
    We have become, like the americans, a nation of wasters and instant press the button problem solvers. All the advice is out there, carry a spade , a phone, fill your fuel tank, carry a blanket, leave in plenty of time, work with a margin of error. but know, computer logic takes over press the reset button and start again, besides it will happen to someone else not ME.
    anyone over say 30 years of age can see this country is going down the pan with the help of our politicians because there are now more insane people than sane ones so the minority are crackers.
    I wont be around in 50 years time . thankfully but the truth is maybe a lot of the younger ones wont be either.
    When you can go into the CO-OP and buy a small portion of pre made mashed potato for nearly £2 it about says it all.

  • Comment number 63.

    It would really help if the Media could actually report the TRUTH, Two mornings ago, Saturday, the BBC and others were reporting that ALL main roads in the are awere closed and impassible, after a moderate fall of snow in the early morning. Our local paper,The Portsmouth News, was still carrying the Road Closed theme late in the afternoon. Apparently the Police and Motoring bodies were suggesting that nobone travelled. In my garden we had 4 inches of soft snow.

    Being independent of mind I ignored the 'official' advice , checked the Highways Authority cameras and saw that the main roads were open and running. Starting at 1030 I Drove my car and trailer from HAvant to Andover, using the main roads. The jouorney time was 10 minutes longer than normal, BUT traffic was flowing freely from door to door. The return journey was the same. On the journey I saw seven snowplough/salting lorries, patrolling the roads they had very successfully cleared.
    The local roads were difficult in places, I had to drive almost 40 metres on uncleared road in HAvant, and nearly 200 metres in Andover, but I coped. Every 'Bus route was clear, every main road was clear, even some of the side roads were clear. The local Authorities had performed well, as had the Highways Authority, the traffic problems were with the Blanket misinformation from the media.
    If I had taken any notice of the BBC I would still be locked in my home and on the verge of starvation.



  • Comment number 64.

    Yes, we need to be more prepared and spend more money on keeping our Country moving. I hear people say "we are in a recession, need to save money", but do they think about all the money lost because our Country grinds to a halt when we have a few inches of snow?
    To be honest I am sick of hearing how "it's the weathers fault", whether it be for undelivered parcels, cancelled hospital appointments and much more.
    My husband needs to drive from East Anglia to Portsmouth and back tomorrow so our son can be home for Yuletide. He was due to come by train! Hopefully we'll be lucky and the gritters and ploughs will have done there jobs.
    Maybe it's time we looked at how Countries who suffer many feet of snow every year cope?
    I live in the countryside, on a small no through road. It is frozen solid and a nightmare. All we need is a grit bin here and there and the locals would happily spread it themselves. I imagine many people in similar situations feel the same. Such small measures would make such a difference.
    Come on councils and the government, get a grip.

  • Comment number 65.

    Since we don't get extreme winters that often, the best method would be to include compulsory snow and ice driving, as well as driving in other extreme conditions, in the driving test. Also spend money on the railways to improve their resilience, such as heaters to prevent points from sticking.

  • Comment number 66.

    I think it would make sense to invest in equipment designed to deal with extremes in weather such as this because when the country shuts down businesses lose so much money and the economy in general suffers.

    I'm fed up hearing that lessons have been learned from last year and that next year things will be better....it never is!

    One thing is sure though..things won't improve under a Conservative government who just love cutting services.

    We don't complain enough....and certainly don't back it up with any action so basically things will never improve.

  • Comment number 67.

    Its pretty obvious that we need to spend some more money, or review where the money is currently being spent. The argument that the wintery weather isn't all that common over a long period of time, thus the capital investment isn't worth it, needs to be weighed up against the economic loss due to the disruption. We already know that weather runs in cycles, so surely its relatively easy to see when investment needs to be ramped up a little, and similarly when investment needs to be cut back a bit. What I really object to is our government pumping cash into other countries to aid coping with "climate change" while seemingly being unable to keep our own infrastructure running during winter. It won't be long before the snow is held up as proof of "erratic weather due to climate change" or some such nonsense - better anyone in government or the met office who is considering spouting such rubbish keeps their opinions to themselves, as the public backlash is liable to be as "severe" as our weather!

  • Comment number 68.

    Maybe all those hundreds of people lying on airport floors without food and drink for hours should have said they were seeking asylum - I bet they would have soon been fed and watered and accommodation found for them in no time!!

  • Comment number 69.

    This is the 2nd year running we have had this kind of weather and it just brings to country to a halt.

    In my lifetime we have not had such bad weather but my Dad said when he was younger it was a regular occurance and the community worked together to clear the driveways and roads.

    I don't think enough has been done and if this is a climate shift and we will get this every year changes need to be made.

    I do think though that people do not help themselves in siutations like this and why if the airports are closed are people there? Theres been more than enough media coverage advising people not to go.

    Where is common sense?

  • Comment number 70.

    #51 - Having lived in Germany I agree with John Mc. Too much expectation in this country that everything is provided. However, severe weather is just that, why do people think they can function as normal?

    The other people I don't understand are the air travellers who brag about their international travels of adventure and then moan and cry if their flight is delayed a little

  • Comment number 71.

    Our problem is that we never know in advance as to exactly what sort of adverse weather we are going to get. We being and island have the most unpredictable winter weather patterns in Europe. (Don't forget also that we are due to slide into 'global warming' and therefore this sort of weather will not being part of the UK in the future! - yeah right).

    Everyone, including the tree huggers, have been moaning about there being insufficient gritters on the roads. Think about the councils having to get the trucks converted to ploughs and facing a 35% increase in fuel expense because of the extra drag. Plus, extra overtime for the drivers, plus extra personnel wages on a seasonal basis. This is in a period when councils are facing savage cuts inbudgets.

    Best we hibernate, Bingle Jells to all.

  • Comment number 72.

    Not that many years ago I remember reading how snow would become a thing of the past in this country, I remember a government who embraced this alarmist clap trap and even invented new taxes to save the planet and stop the UK turning into some Saharaesque landscape, I remeber being told solar and other renewable energy sources were the way forward! (Just how much energy does a solar panel generate while covered in snow? Or how about a wind turbine on a cold, still foggy morning?)

    My point? They were conned! They didnt have a clue what the weather was going to do then and they dont have a clue now! Dont you just love the way 'Global Warming' has become 'Climate Change'?

    However there is no need for huge investment in new equipment. Practically every construction company and farmer in the country have equipment that could be used to help, if only some genius would make the phone call! Yes it would cost money, but a lot less than keeping fleets of gritters in storage - just in case, that in ten years time would be sold at a fraction of there cost having never been used.

    But as they have failed to fix last winters potholes yet I dont hold out much hope on money being spent on sensible ideas when we can pretend we can save the planet!

  • Comment number 73.

    I don't think we should spend more money on snow preparations because long term forecasts predict there will be much less snow in the future.

  • Comment number 74.

    No.

    We are coping ok. It's only the media and those that believe them that think 'Britain grinds to a halt' when it snows.


    As for those at the airport complaining - hard luck.

    But stuff happens and it's not the end of the world.

  • Comment number 75.

    No, we shouldn't have to pay more. We already pay extortionate taxes, and these should be used to buy enough grit. If a council does not grit as happened in parts of North Kent over the weekend they should be fined by central goverment.

    Airports are private property and are not our concern. The airline industry should be forced to make better provision out of their own pockets or lose their licenses.

    Trains are also run by private companies. Why should we pay extra for them to clean up their act? I dont recall ever going into a shop and being asked to pay 25% more for a product because they need to buy a new till. They tendered for the contracts, they bank the profits, they should pay to keep tyhe trains running or lose their franchises.

    Can I just add that Mr Hammond seems hopelessly out of his depth with transport. I had hoped for someone competent and honest after we got rid of Adonis, but the current minister simply seems to be putting his head in the sand and only pulling it out to tell us to cough up more money.

  • Comment number 76.

    41. At 10:52am on 20 Dec 2010, Susan wrote:
    And another thing! (Am on a roll here lol)
    ///////////

    You are certainly on something!

  • Comment number 77.

    europhile wrote:

    Does this not prove what a third world nation we live in?

    Thousands lying on airport floors, roads closed, no grit, no snowploughs, no planes.

    ####

    It has been the same in Germany, Holland, Poland, Northern France, Sweden, Denmark....

    Are they all third world nations too?

    Don't believe the negative UK press - they are doing a great job of just lying to us because they seem to hate their own country.

  • Comment number 78.

    60. At 11:15am on 20 Dec 2010, EnglishTeaparty wrote:
    How can you prepare for the worst December weather in decades? If we gear up for the totally unexpected and unusual the costs and tax implications don't bear thinking about. In the meantime individuals could do more about the situation by taking more personal responsibility. How about getting up earlier, planning the route with more intelligence, checking the car over beforehand, fitting chains/snow tyres, dressing appropriately, ensuring they buy heating oil in good time and not always blaming everyone else? Yes, I know it's difficult where so many people are now totally benefit & help dependent and unable to take charge or accept responsibility for their own lives but Government cannot and should not do everything for everyone. Our nanny over-involved state is killing enterprise, individual initiative and any sense of personal accountability.
    =======================================
    I suspect many people are taking individual responsibility, as you describe, to get to work and minimise the consequences of the weather.
    Why do people like you constantly run down the people of this country? Where is your evidence for your assertions? Stop trashing everyone to promote your own political agenda.

  • Comment number 79.

    66. At 11:18am on 20 Dec 2010, CladinBlack wrote:

    One thing is sure though..things won't improve under a Conservative government who just love cutting services.

    We don't complain enough....and certainly don't back it up with any action so basically things will never improve.'

    They have to cut services because Labour bankrupted us. There is no money left you see because Labour wasted it on dole and social engineering projects.

  • Comment number 80.

    You may count on your global warming instead..:)

  • Comment number 81.

    What a load of whimps. IT's snow it's dangerous. Get on with it.

  • Comment number 82.

    It's not really a question of 'investment', it's a question of common sense.

    If the govt spends loads of money, the very people who are complaining now about the lack of snow ploughs etc will be the ones complaining about wasted money.

    But there are some simple changes we could make

    - get the likes of the BBC to report local traffic better. BBC radio traffic reports are embarrassingly bad

    - get the BBC etc to report on chaos in other countries, so we keep a sense of perspective. Northern France is also in chaos, for example.

    - make snow tyres, at least for public service and transport vehicles, compulsory in winter

    - change planning rules so that we adopt the North American and Scandinavian 'grid pattern' for new housing developments.

    - ask the Global Warmist fanatics some hard questions.... they were telling us this was all a thing of the past, weren't they?

    - encourage people to live more 'locally'. If less people were doing the BBC thing and 'Escaping to the Country', we would have a lot less problems

    - get real. How many people who are stuck in airports or on roads right now really need to be there, and ignored warnings?

  • Comment number 83.

    I´m sure that if we spüend enough, we can stop the snow altogether.

  • Comment number 84.

    17. At 10:26am on 20 Dec 2010, Tio Terry wrote:

    So, no, I don't think we should spend more as a country but maybe more as individuals. Get the right car/tyres/chains and know how to use them. Accept that the third rail trains will never cope with large amounts of snow and pay more for your flights to make sure the airports stay open.

    While I agree with most of what you say, why should I pay more for my flights? I am already paying the airports a contribution via the cost of my flight! A better idea would be for them to give less money to their shareholders and do what they are meant to do - keep the airports open regardless of cost!

  • Comment number 85.

    We should perhaps ensure investment in places such as Scotland, etc. where they recieve snow more regularly than we do in the south of the UK. But we recieve snow so infrequently that to invest may have been construed as wasteful by some yet there will be critiscm of under-investment if the snow catches us out. Damned if you do and damned if you don't. I am also not convinced that scientists can give the definitive answer as long range forecasts are very difficult to get right but they may be the only option we have in making our best guess about future weather to help inform any action to support mitigations against snow disruption.

  • Comment number 86.

    under-airport-tarmac heating ??

    but then again,maybe like happens in the football,the pitch is perfectly fine but the game is cancelled because of fears for the health and safety of those travelling to the football stadium.

  • Comment number 87.

    Yes the govt should invest in breadtrays and huskies for all!

  • Comment number 88.

    //55. At 11:06am on 20 Dec 2010, maxine_maxine wrote:
    48. At 10:59am on 20 Dec 2010, leng wrote:
    ...we often have much more humidity in our weather, than many other countries, hence freezing will affect us worse than the dry frosty air that many inland colder climates expeience.


    That is a good point. Continental countries have dry cold & the snow is powder inches thick unless it starts melting.//

    Contintental countries? That's such a Little Englander thing to say. Portugal and Sweden are both 'Continental', but have little in common beyond that.

    It is true that many countries, especially the Nordics, tend to get powdery snow.

    But the big difference is that

    a - they don't get snow, then a thaw, then more snow.

    b - they have snow tyres.

  • Comment number 89.

    2. At 09:39am on 20 Dec 2010, Edwin Schrodinger wrote:
    It is not necessary to spend any more money on measures against snow, Scientists have told us that because of global warming our children won't actually know what snow looks like


    Could you cite the names and publications of any scientists that have actually said that, please?

  • Comment number 90.

    During last year's snowy spell we were shown video evidence on TV of bus drivers playing snowballs outside their depot while telling us that the vehicles were 'snowed in'. How about the same men putting the same effort into removing the snow? Too many public service employees see snow as a good reason to stay at home and transport workers have exactly the same attitude.
    My father was a bus driver back in the 1950's and never once did he strike or stay at home because of the elements. Too much time is spent on worrying about health and safety etc and not enough on how the public is going to suffer.

  • Comment number 91.

    Can I just say, why is the media making this out to be a serious problem? It's Christmas and people expect snow (as a child I even wished for it but rarely got it).

    Philip Hammond is absolutely right when he says there's nothing that can be done to prevent disruption from snow when it first falls. This is the main difference between the UK and other countries such as Finland and Norway. Friends of mine have told me that when it first snows in those countries there is a huge amount of disruption and it takes days for the network to adapt. The reason you don't hear about continual disruption is because the snow remains there for weeks or months. In the UK we have extremely variable weather (like I needed to tell anyone that!) so while one week the ground may be covered by snow, the next week it will have thawed and then the week after there's the possibility of more snow. Consequently, we go through far more phases of changes in travel conditions so the transport network never has the chance to adapt.

    There's really nothing we can do about it other than accept that if you plan to travel over the winter months then you have to accept the risk of snow disruption.

  • Comment number 92.

    12. At 10:22am on 20 Dec 2010, littletenter wrote:
    10. At 10:10am on 20 Dec 2010, Red Robbo wrote:
    5. At 09:49am on 20 Dec 2010, ruffled_feathers wrote:

    Can anyone tell me what their solar panels are doing at the moment whilst covered in snow, please?

    My solar panels will be thoroughly cleaned when the thaw comes and will be in pristine condition for the Spring/Summer when they generate the majority of their solar power.

    And by the way, thank you very much for paying extra money on your energy bills so that I can receive the generous feed-in tariff payments from the electricity suppliers.

    ===============================================================
    As frequently with the green lobby you haven't answered the contributors question have you? With windmills dead (no wind) and solar panels dead(snow covered & no sun) temperatures at minus 10 where is your electricity coming from NOW, while you freeze to death. What your solar panels do in 3 months from now is totally irrelevant (you just froze to death) !!!


    And what you don't answer is what will we use for energy when fossil fuels run out, as they will? Using renewable sources of energy will at least make tehm last longer and may, in time, largely replace them, but pretending we don't have a long term problem is sticking your head in teh sand. I could conclude you are merely hoping taht fossil feule won't run out in your lifetime, and you feel able to squander them and let future generations sort these problems out for themselves.

  • Comment number 93.

    61. At 11:15am on 20 Dec 2010, milvusvestal wrote:

    Kitting ourselves with winter tyres and snow chains would be an expensive and undesirable proposition for many and, having used the latter from time to time on the Continent, they were awkward to fit and remove. A long-distance motorist might find himself switching from winter tyres/snow chains and back again several times before reaching his destination, as he passes through regions free of snow and ice. "

    While I agree about chains, you don't need to change tyres (unless by 'long distance motorist' you're taking about someone driving from Norway to Antartica via Africa)

    Winter tyres can, in fact, work fine all year round in the UK. Some tyre manufacturers are recommending this, because their 'normal' tyres are dangerous under 7 degrees C, and for people who find it a hassle to change tyres, it's safer to have winter tyres all year than summer ones.

    Winter tyres are no more expensive than decent summer tyres. If you want to swap over, you can change them every year (I do - a local tyre man charges £20 a time to change the set over), or buy a set of steel rims (that's what my wife did - £80 for a set of rims). Each of your sets of tyres wear down half as fast, so the tyres costs virtually nothing extra, and the extra rims can be sold on eBay when you sell your car.

    I've had winter tyres for the past couple of years, on my BMW (everyone knows that 'BMWs are rubbish in the snow'), and I've driven past Landrovers which have been stuck. I've never needed chains (or tyre 'socks'), as it will drive through 5 or 6 inches of lying snow easily, and deeper snow with a bit of care (the problem with deeper snow is the 'snow plough' effect of the front of the car)

    The government should mandate winter tyres. Then, people would factor it in to the purchase of the car, and when they sell their cars, their extra tyres/rims would naturally be factored into the second hand price.

    Driving with summer tyres in winter is more dangerous than driving with bald tyres in summer or a broken indicator, but the former is legal, and the latter will cost you a fine and points.

  • Comment number 94.

    If we do spend more money on MORE new equipment, then firstly where do we store this equipment so that once it is needed it is not like now also stuck in the Snow and delaid from being used, and if then indeed we today start to train People to use this equipment then how do they further practice using this equipment when it doe's not Snow.

    The only reason other Countries are alway far better at snow clearing is because this task IS a Seasonal Event for a longer period every Year, whereas in Britain we normally have Snow in recurring short events.

    The best way to treat any pre-empted threats of disruption from Snow, is for everyone to adjust their behaviour by staying both at Home and at the Office until conditions get better to travel, and stop even trying to drive Cars and sending Children to School other then for emergencies knowing full well that any journey is likely to end in grid-lock, while Shopping Outlets should arrange to be better Over - Stocked from as early as November each Year in case of any delivery delays during December to March.

  • Comment number 95.

    42. At 10:54am on 20 Dec 2010, Michael Lloyd wrote:
    "23. At 10:34am on 20 Dec 2010, sixpackerL wrote:

    14. At 10:23am on 20 Dec 2010, Mr Wonderful wrote:
    Absolutely.

    The government are doing just that by spending at least (subject to overruns and over-budget costs) £12 BILLION on the new high speed rail link, which will ensure those travelling between London and Birmingham can do so 30 minutes faster and not be trapped by the snow - provided it's the right kind of snow.

    As for the rest of us, hard luck.
    ====================================
    Never heard a single non-politician in favour of the high speed rail link.
    Why are we spending £12bn on this irrelevance. I cant believe it makes any difference to business efficiency. Nobody is going to believe Birmingham is a suburb of London. Why wreck masses of green-belt country side for sucha white elephant?"

    You are absolutely correct, Mr sixpackerL, it's a total waste of money. But, I can tell you that a friend of mine, a non-politician who lives in Warrington (nowhere near the proposed line) is actively campaigning in favour of it. So there you are - one non-politician. I personally believe he is barmy, and have told him so - several times.
    .........................................................................

    Gents,

    I think you will find that the reason our lords and masters favour this scheme has more to do with the construction industry than saving anyone 30 minutes travel time. £12 billion is a paltry sum compared to paying 60,000 construction workers dole money for the next ten years.....

  • Comment number 96.

    On balance I don't think we should over-react and spend money we don't have, although as some have a said we could do with spending more on gritting facilities (a few more gritting lorries and increased stocks of grit) as this is money that is unlikely to be wasted. It was -19 celcius where I live last night which is way colder than I can ever remember it being - I'd be very surprised if we saw such weather again any time soon, so why spend the money?

    As far as the airports are concerned, as the majority of flights seem to be recreational rather than essential I would definitely not agree with public money being spent; let the aiports spend whatever they see fit add put up ticket prices accordingly.

    Although I have some sympathy with those who got stuck at the airport on their way to warmer climes, I do wonder why people didn't check the weather forecast beforehand as it was pretty obvious that Heathrow and Gatwick were going to cop-it.

  • Comment number 97.

    66. At 11:18am on 20 Dec 2010, CladinBlack wrote:

    One thing is sure though..things won't improve under a Conservative government
    ////////////
    Note for one of little Red Ed's Labours policy review think tanks - improve weather. Get public feedback. What sort of climate do you want? Put into manifesto.

    Incidentally where is little Red Ed? Probably out with Maria Eagles and Alan Johnson gritting the roads. I knew I should have voted labour!!

  • Comment number 98.

    def not. get everybody off the dole and oaps to clean it away for nowt. good old camerons big society,eh?? and while your at it get diddy david the shamed lib dem to help them. hes doing nothing now,is he?

  • Comment number 99.

    88. At 11:41am on 20 Dec 2010, The Bloke wrote:

    It is true that many countries, especially the Nordics, tend to get powdery snow.

    But the big difference is that

    a - they don't get snow, then a thaw, then more snow."

    Actually they do - maybe not as often as us, but it has happened a few times when we've been in Norway. However, they weren't fussed about it because:

    "b - they have snow tyres."

    Big, quick, snow falls still cause problems in Scandinavia etc - a foot or two in a couple of hours will cause problems for most people, but here a few inches over a day seems to cause problems. Winter tyres will handle smaller or slower snow falls by just compressing the snow and giving a nice surface to drive on. (Deep falls cause problems even with winter tyres because the car tries to act like a snow plough)

  • Comment number 100.

    56. At 11:11am on 20 Dec 2010, forclarification wrote:

    29. At 10:40am on 20 Dec 2010, Pete wrote:
    I find it interesting that the plethora of privatised companies including rail service, airports, buses and Council services are failing to cope with the snow and yet the Nationalised post Office continues to deliver my letters.

    Speaks volumes about the inherent conflict of profit before service.
    =============================================================
    Yawn, where I live we've experienced different levels of service and seen the post office the least but I didn't think to blame that on it being nationalised. Strange that the private couriers are still delivering. Must be a disdain for safety in the relentless pursuit of profit whereas the post office functioning is an example of public service...........

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Just had my Postman deliver a couple of parcels for me that I ordered two weeks ago, both were from companies that use Privatised deliver services. I queried my Posty as to why he was delivering them and he explained that these companies were unable to cope and had paid the Post Office to deliver them!

    You couldn't make it up!

 

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