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Roads teams add winter gear after 'beast' blizzards

Changes have been made to the way Cumbria's teams of gritters and snowploughs responds to severe winter weather after the storms dubbed the Beast from the East in February when some villages were cut off and roads blocked for days.

Gritter on Kirkstone Pass
Don Esslemont

Cumbria County Council says it has set up weather stations covering roads in the eastern part of the county, which was worst hit.

Extra contracts have been signed with plant machinery firms, in case something bigger than a gritter is required.

South West Water 'well prepared' for 'Beast from the East'

Rob England

BBC News Online

South West Water has been praised by the water watchdog for dealing with loss of supplies in the aftermath of the "Beast from the East" earlier in the year.

A review launched by Ofwat has found water companies' front line staff worked tirelessly and while some companies were well prepared for the severe weather - which had been forecast - others performed badly, causing significant hardship for their customers.

South West Water was identified as one of five providers which "utilised paid social media promotion or geo-targeted posting to ensure they reached customers in certain areas or beyond their following" during the difficult period.

South West Water
BBC

Across the board companies have often struggled to really identify those in vulnerable circumstances and offer the kind of support that they needed, and that's something we found up and down the country."

John RussellSenior Director, Strategy and Planning, Ofwat

County asks for Whitehall funds to pay for blizzard costs

The Government has been asked for nearly £750,000 to cover the cost of helping people in Cumbria affected by the snowstorms of last winter and severe weather in the winter of 2017.

Snowy road with stuck car
BBC

The county council's asking for money under what's called the Bellwin scheme, to help cover the cost of clearing roads and taking supplies such as food and medicines to remote communities cut off by drifts.

A report being discussed this week says £576,000 was spent during the storms known as The Beast from the East, and just over £160,000 spent the previous winter.

But officials say that normally the scheme insists on councils finding the first £687,000 from their own resources, so only a small proportion may be repaid.

Snowy roads bill tops £1.1m

Caitlin Webb

Local Democracy Reporter

Taxpayers spent more than £1.1m on clearing roads during harsh winter weather, a Kent County Council (KCC) report has revealed.

Kent Highways declared a snow emergency after the "Beast from the East" arrived on 26 February and lasted for a week.

Gritters used 5,000 tonnes of salt, carrying out 26 gritting runs in a week compared with the average 16 runs for the whole month.

Freezing rain that followed led to more than 50 crashes on the M20 in half an hour and crashes across Kent.

Snow in Kent
BBC
The "beast" brought snow followed by freezing rain

A second snow emergency came from 16 to 18 March, with seven gritting runs compared with the average of six.

The report said the allocated budget for winter service was £3,328,600 but the cost of both snow emergencies was approximately an additional £1,141,000.

Highway manager Carol Valentine, author of the report which will be considered by councillors on Tuesday, said: "This season's winter service has been challenging but the service has been delivered successfully."

She said lessons could still be learned and a report would be made to KCC's cabinet later in the year.