Sussex snow: Motorists stranded on A23

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Media captionBBC's Duncan Kennedy: 'I've got literally six layers on, but I'm freezing cold'

Hundreds of drivers have been left stranded after snow brought some roads in Sussex to a standstill.

Tailbacks of up to 15 miles were reported on the A23 between Crawley and Brighton, with some motorists stuck for up to eight hours.

Police said snow and ice had caused hazardous conditions and officers were trying to help gritting lorries through to treat roads.

Other roads were also affected including the A26, A27 and A29.

Inspector James Biggs, from Sussex Police, said: "The worst areas at the moment are parts of the A23 and M23 particularly around Handcross Hill.

"Many drivers have been rescued but I know many more have endured long hours stuck in their vehicles. Please bear with us - we are working to full capacity, along with our partners in the Highways Agency to help you."

Police said Red Cross volunteers were also checking on the welfare of stranded motorists.

Tom Schoon, who was heading home to Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, from Eastbourne, became stuck on the A23 northbound near Handcross Hill at 19:45 GMT on Monday.

'State of acceptance'

Speaking to the BBC at 04:45 on Tuesday, he said: "The carriageway has become a car park. There's a family in the car behind me all curled up asleep.

"I've walked up to the services twice now to go to the toilet, grab food and water and stretch my legs. Around midnight it was quite busy but it's quieter now.

"Most people are asleep judging by the cars and the feet up on the dashboard. Everyone has reached a stage of acceptance.

"I think people reversed back and went into the services as it looks like a lot of people are sleeping in there.

"As I'm a lanky chap, it's a bit difficult for me to get comfortable in a small car."

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Jonathan Lara was stuck on the M23 after taking eight hours to travel fewer than eight miles after leaving work at Gatwick airport on Monday evening.

Speaking to the BBC at about 01:30 GMT on Tuesday, he said: "It looks like the gritters have been totally caught out by this.

"I've been stuck in the same place for about three-and-half hours now and it looks like I'm going to be here for hours yet."

He estimated thousands of motorists were stuck on the road.

'People are tired'

Mr Lara, who works for an air charter company, had set off from his office at about 17:30 GMT but hit problems when he reached the M23 as he headed home to Brighton.

He became stuck near the junction with the A23 at Pease Pottage.

"It usually takes me about 30 minutes to get home. Snow is coming down but there's only a couple of inches on the road.

"There are three lanes of traffic heading south and we're at a standstill. People have been getting out of their cars and walking about. The atmosphere was good at first but now people are tired and just want to get home.

"The roads haven't been gritted and I don't know why. There had been warnings about snow."

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Media captionCheryl Baker: "We were travelling from Kent, it's only about an hour and it took us 10 hours to get there"

Former Bucks Fizz singer Cheryl Baker was one of those stuck near Pease Pottage. She had been heading from Kent to Brighton to help her daughters after they were involved in a minor road accident on an icy road.

Ms Baker said: "In three hours we've moved about a mile. We're sitting in a queue to get petrol from Pease Pottage services.

"What makes me really angry is where are the gritters? I'm furious."

However, a spokesman for the Highways Agency said roads had been treated.

Meanwhile there were also problem on roads in Kent with the M20 closed coastbound from junction 13.

And Brighton and Hove Bus Company halted services at 19:30 GMT on Monday, saying several buses were stuck across the city and its teams were busy dealing with them.

The Met Office has warned that up to 10cm (4in) of snow could have accumulated in southern parts of Sussex and Kent by Tuesday morning, and has issued an amber "be prepared" warning.

There are yellow "be aware" snow warnings in place for the south-east corner of England and north-eastern Scotland, as well as yellow warnings of ice covering Wales and most of England and Scotland.

BBC weather forecaster Steve Cleaton said the bitterly cold, north-easterly wind would persist in much of England and Wales into Tuesday, but ease across Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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