Snow and ice 'should be cleared with the public's help'

Snow-covered rooftops in Blaydon, Gateshead David Cameron urged people to be "good neighbours" as the cold weather persists

The public should clear icy side roads and pavements not treated by councils, the transport secretary has suggested.

After another freezing night prompted Met Office warnings of icy roads across much of Britain, Philip Hammond said people should help neighbours.

The Army may clear Edinburgh's streets and Scotland's M8 motorway has reopened after being closed for two days.

Overnight temperatures in Strathallan, Perthshire, and Shap, Cumbria, hit -18C (0F). Some 1,000 UK schools are shut.

It was another cold night in all parts of the UK, with lows of -12C (10.4F) in Castlederg, Tyrone, and -9C (15.8F) in Trawsgoed, Ceredigion.

Severe weather warnings for heavy snow remain in place for the far north of Scotland, with icy road alerts affecting all Scottish regions, Northern Ireland, the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber.

BBC weather forecaster Sarah Wilmshurst said: "If you're going to be travelling through the rest of this afternoon into the evening rush hour, it's going to be treacherous yet again."

Scotland's transport minister has accepted responsibility for the chaos on the roads of Scotland's central belt, which resulted in hundreds of people becoming stranded in their cars - some for two nights.

However, Stewart Stevenson shrugged off opposition calls for his resignation by saying the government was faced with "exceptional circumstances".

Earlier, Transport Scotland again advised against all but "absolutely essential" travel.

Lorna Gordon reports from the M8 where gritters have struggled to remove thick ice from the motorway

  • The A171 near Whitby, North Yorks, is "passable with care" after more than 100 vehicles had to be rescued by police and snow ploughs
  • On the railways, there are widespread cancellations throughout Scotland with Glasgow-Edinburgh shuttles off because cold air was causing braking systems to fail
  • East Coast is operating reduced services, while some local services in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and north-east England have been cancelled
  • Travellers at airports including Glasgow and Edinburgh and Belfast International are advised to check flight times with airlines
  • All schools are closed in Glasgow, Inverclyde, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, East Renfrewshire and Renfrewshire
  • Hundreds are closed in Northern Ireland, along with about 40 in the north of England
  • Snow and frost have forced the abandonment of Friday and Saturday's race meetings at Doncaster

Mr Hammond said councils had to make choices about which roads to grit but could provide salt to allow the public to clear residential streets.

AROUND THE UK

"In many cases people would like to have the opportunity to have access to grit and salt supplies so that on roads that are not on the council's gritting route they can... make the pavements a bit easier, make it a bit easier for them to get out of their driveways," he told BBC Breakfast.

"People have always dug their way out of their own driveways... and I would encourage people who are able to do that kind of thing to continue doing it for themselves and for neighbours who are perhaps less able to."

He said the government had recently put together a "common sense" code of practice which, if followed, should protect the public from legal action as a result of attempting to clear snow.

'Extraordinary circumstances'

However, he said there was no need in England for the Army to be called in because councils were still able to call contractors if they needed help clearing roads.

Prime Minister David Cameron told the Commons the military "stands ready to help" but urged people to be "good neighbours" as the icy grip took hold of the UK.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond had earlier told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the Army had helped emergency services on Monday and that Edinburgh Council had requested personnel help clear roads.

WEATHER AND TRAVEL INFO

Voluntary groups and offenders serving community sentences were already helping out, he said.

"You would expect us in extraordinary circumstances... to use every facility to help people," he added.

The AA said it had responded to more than 230,000 incidents since the first widespread snow on 24 November - a 93% increase on the same period last year.

The RAC said breakdowns were there were 50% more call-outs than normal.

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UK forecast for 23/07/2016

Map Key

  • land colour Land
  • cloud colour Cloud
  • Lakes, Rivers & Sea colour Lakes, Rivers & Sea

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Frost

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Temperature (°C)

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