Gales cause power cuts to thousands of homes

Thousands of homes and businesses in England are without electricity after gales and ice brought down power lines.

Northern Powergrid said about 8,000 customers were still without power, including in west Northumberland, west County Durham and West Yorkshire.

At one stage on Wednesday morning, some 50,000 homes and businesses were without electricity.

Northern Powergrid said they would make contact with customers who qualify for compensation over the loss of power.

Image caption The collapse of a wall at a house which damaged cars in Stoke-on-Trent happened during high winds

A Northern Powergrid spokeswoman said that strong winds, heavy ice and snow brought down overhead power lines in the North East and across Yorkshire.

She said: "We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused and ask customers for their patience while repair and restoration work is carried out."

Western Power Distribution said fewer than 1,000 properties were still without electricity in north Derbyshire, down from 9,000 overnight.

Some 12,000 homes and businesses which lost power overnight in Whitby, North Yorkshire, have been reconnected.

The wintry weather also caused problems for motorists, with drivers warned to take care as up to 20cm (8in) of snow fell on high ground causing treacherous conditions.

Neil Fuller, from Durham Police, said: "It's fair to say there's been approximately a foot of snow falling overnight on the hills.

"We've had problems with snowfall on the carriageway and also snow blowing in from open fields across the road, making visibility poor, and that's why the A66 was closed overnight."

Durham Police said up to 40 vehicles were stranded on the A68 between Tow Law and Castleside, with reports of snow drifts of up to 7ft in places. The road has since reopened.

North Yorkshire Police said they had been called out to help a number of drivers left stranded in their cars after snow hit the Hole of Horcum area on the North Yorkshire Moors between Egton Bridge and Tan Hill.

In Cumbria, the A686 which was closed at Hartside, has now reopened, as has the B1248 in East Yorkshire, which had been closed between the A166 in Wetwang and the Little Wood Street junction in Norton.

In Derbyshire, a section of the A57 Snake Pass, which links Sheffield and Manchester, reclosed on Wednesday between Sheffield and Glossop due to deteriorating weather conditions.

The A628, which runs through the Peak District between Sheffield and Manchester, has also reopened, as has the A53 which was closed both ways near Leek.

Both roads were affected by heavy snow drifts.

There were also delays on the East Coast Main Line north of Newcastle.

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