Monday, 2 February 2009

Councillor clears the snow

by Brixton Hill Councillor, Steve Reed:

What a shock to wake up to a London buried deep under the snow this morning! It may have looked pretty, but the snow has meant many public services are closed or running a reduced service because of staff shortages. With the buses, trains and most tube lines closed, many people had trouble getting into work this morning.

Lambeth did a good job in keeping the main roads open to traffic. Our gritters were out from late last night making sure all priority roads were treated. Thanks to that effort, all the main roads – including bus routes – were passable this morning. With the main roads properly gritted, attention then moved to the side streets and pavements. The street sweepers have been instructed to move to gritting footways and pavements and that work’s carrying on right now – with more snow expected overnight. Their first priority is town centres, stations and bus stops where there are more people. I went out with a team of gritters this afternoon, seeing the good work they’re doing outside in the freezing cold and lending a hand myself.
Nevertheless, many pavements – even along main roads – are still covered in compact snow. People are advised to take great care walking along them as they can be extremely slippy.
Because of the public transport problems, many services have been left understaffed as employees were unable to get into work or had to stay at home to look after children whose schools were closed. For instance, Lambeth’s call centre is extremely short staffed today and callers are finding it difficult to get through. I asked for a full explanation to be recorded for people calling in so they know what’s going on and when to call back if they can’t get through.

Despite all the difficulties caused by the snow – the heaviest seen in London for 18 years – there’s a really positive spirit out on the streets. I was really struck by how many people were talking to complete strangers as I made my way along the snow-covered pavements to the town hall this morning. I spotted quite a few adults reliving their childhood days hurling snowballs at their friends and colleagues out on the streets.

While many people found it difficult to get into work today, I’d like to offer my thanks to those employees at the council and throughout the public services in our borough who braved the snow and came into work to keep our services running despite the very difficult conditions.

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