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Arctic conditions hold Gloucestershire in icy grip with more to come

By This is Gloucestershire  |  Posted: December 20, 2010

  • Slide away: Children from Bishop's Cleeve enjoy the snow in the village

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10.00pm For the latest on school closures click here to visit Gloucestershire County Council's closed school site.

7.21pm: Stroud - Stroud College will be closed for the rest of this week;it will re-open for staff on 4th Jan 2011 and for students on 5th Jan 2011.

5.59pm Useful advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau regarding rights at work if you cannot make it in because of the snow. Click here to read the advice.

5.25pm: St John's ambulance crews have leant the Great Western Ambulance Service three 4x4 vehicles to help it reach far-flung rural locations in the heavy snow.

Charity chief executive Jason Lugg said: "It is a challenging time for everyone but our volunteers are on standby, prepared for times like this and are pleased to be able to help."

4.53pm: Park and Ride bus services in both Cheltenham and Gloucester have been cancelled until further notice.  The car parks will remain open.

4.08pm: "I have never seen weather like this in Gloucestershire before. It took me two-and-a-half hours to get from Gloucester to my home in the Forest of Dean." - Glosmedia reporter Dan Charles.

4.00pm: Police will be stopping people driving with snow on their car roof, slapping offenders with fixed penalties of £60 plus three points due to the danger it can cause.

3.31pm: leisure@cheltenham in Tommy Taylor's Lane is due to close early tonight at 6pm due to the conditions.

2.52pm: The A429 Fossebridge is currently closed due to a jack-knifed lorry blocking the road whilst Cleeve Hill is passable only to 4x4 vehicles.

2.49pm: Princess Elizabeth Way in Cheltenham has now reopened in both directions.

2.30pm: The 94 bus service from Cheltenham to Gloucester has been cancelled.

2.04pm: Gloucester Rugby offices at Kingsholm have been closed due to the weather.

2.02pm: Gloucester Park and Ride service has been cancelled from 3pm today.

With other operators also considering reducing their services, anyone using public transport needs to check with their service provider before they set off.

1.46: Motorists are urged to take extreme care as freezing temperatures cause widespread ice on roads across the county.

Inspector Keith Fagan, of Gloucestershire Police, said: “We are continuing to advise drivers not to make their journey unless it is absolutely necessary."

1.40pm: Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS) has pledged to continue to deliver a 999 service despite an increase in demand due to the winter weather.

1.00pm: Snow is falling in Cheltenham and parts of the Cotswolds.

12.20pm: Reports of heavy snow falling in Stroud, Gloucester and parts of the Forest of Dean.

12.12pm: Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service has issued a warning about the dangers of venturing on to frozen lakes.

Group Manager Tally Giampa said: "In the temperatures we are experiencing, a person would not last long at all in a frozen lake. People need to recognise the potentially fatal consequences of venturing onto a frozen lake and ensure that dogs are also kept well away.”

11.30am: Cotswold District Council suspends waste collections and closes some leisure facilities.

The authority has announced its waste contractor, SITA UK, is unable to collect rubbish today due to the number of road closures across the area.

Chipping Campden and Tetbury leisure centres are now closed, with centres in Cirencester, Fairford and Bourton remaining open.

11.05am: Princess Elizabeth Way in Cheltenham has been closed in one direction due to the icy conditions. The route is closed to traffic travelling from the Kingsditch retail park towards Coronation Square.

10.42am: Stagecoach has slammed the gritting operations in Cheltenham and Gloucester as "lamentable."

Speaking on BBC Radio Gloucestershire Sholto Thomas of Stagecoach said roads in the Forest of Dean had been well maintained during the cold snap buit efforts in Cheltenham and Gloucester were lamentable, he said.

Citizen editor, Ian Mean, agreed.

"When Stagecoach's Operations Director,Sholto Thomas, describes the lack of gritting in Gloucester, and particularly in Cheltenham as "lamentable", he is spot on," said Mr Mean.
"I left my home in Hucclecote at 5.30am to drive to Cheltenham - the temperature guage in the car when I left was -11.The Hucclecote Road was okay but you could really do no more than 12mph.

"The temperature plunged to -13 as I approached Cheltenham along the Shurdington Road and when I stopped to get my newspapers at the Bath Road post ofice, the road was like glass. It became worse as I drove into the centre of Cheltenham. There seemed little evidence at all of any gritting.

"After an hour and a quarter I got to our head office in St James Square - the roads around there were a nightmare.

"While I understand the pressures on the county council's Highways Department,it surely cannot be right that a town as important as Chleltenham is a virtual no go area because of iced up roads."

Article continues below video:

9.45am: More county schools have announced they are closed today.

The following will not open:

Gloucester - St. Mary's Catholic Primary School  

Stroud - Miserden C of E Primary School

Stroud - The Rosary Catholic Primary School

9.10am: Numerous children's centres in the county have announced they are closed today.

The following are reported as being shut:

Tewkesbury - Noahs Ark Children Centre - Chance Street and York Road Sites.

Tewkesbury - Northway/Ashchurch Children Centre

Springboard Children's Centre - Cirencester Site.

Springboard Children's Centre - Fairford Site.

Springboard Children's Centre - Stow Site

The Family Tree Children Centre - Branches Site

The Family Tree Children Centre - Leaves Site

The Family Tree Children Centre - Twigs Site

8.30am: All refuse and recycling collections are suspended today in Cheltenham.

8.20am: Numerous schools in Gloucestershire are closed today.

The following will not open today:

Sandford School, Seven Springs.
The Rosary Catholic Primary School, Stroud.
Nailsworth Children Centre, Stroud.
Parliament Children Centre, Stroud.
The Link Children Centre, Gloucester.

Chosen Hill School in Tewkesbury is open today and this evening's carol service has been brought forward to 1.30pm today.

Salsa classes due to take place at Holy Apostles Hall, in London Road, Cheltenham, tonight has been cancelled.

7.50am: The boss of Stagecoach West has branded the gritting of roads in Gloucester and Cheltenham “lamentable”.

Speaking this morning opeations director Sholto Thomas, could not say which services were running today, but said bosses were talking to drivers to assess the condition of the roads.

He said: “It’s very patchy I’m afraid. It all depends on the gritting which has been quite good in the Forest but I’m afraid it has been lamentable in Cheltenham and Gloucester.
“Quite frankly it is like driving around on a skating rink.”

He said he would not like to be at the wheel of an out-of-control bus.
“If a car is slipping, often a kerb will stop you but in a bus it won’t and can end up hitting people on pavements and that’s what concerns me.”

Mr Thomas added: “I would like to know just where the gritting vehicles were and when.”

He advised people to stay out of any town.
7.30am: A severe weather warning is in place for Gloucestershire - with residents waking up to sheet ice on the county’s roads.
The Met Office has issued the warning due to a continuous risk of widespread ice on untreated roads this morning.
Temperatures plunged below -10C in the county last night and are forecast to remain well below freezing today.
Travel chaos is also set to continue today with freezing conditions and heavy snow causing flight cancellations and delays at Britain’s busiest airports.
Passengers hoping for a Christmas getaway have found themselves stranded at airports, with hundreds of people camping out in terminals for another night after planes were grounded.
Temperatures plunged overnight, with a record low for Northern Ireland seen in Castlederg, County Tyrone, where the mercury plunged to -17.6C. The lowest UK temperature overnight was thought to be -19.6C, recorded in Chesham, Buckinghamshire.

ARCTIC conditions froze Gloucestershire’s weekend.
Eight inches of snow fell in parts of the Cotswolds while Cheltenham was left shivering as temperatures plummeted.
Cheltenham Town’s match against Stockport County fell victim and dozens of events, from Christmas parties to carol concerts, were postponed.
Drivers bore the brunt of the chaos, with major routes closed, buses cancelled and many vehicles becoming stranded.
Meanwhile, with further snowfall on the way, The Citizen’s weather expert Ian Thomas said he was confident there would be snow on Christmas day.
He said: “I would put money on it, it may not fall on the day but there will definitely be some on the ground from the morning.”
He warned commuters more snow would fall today.
He said: “It will start at breakfast time and continue throughout the day, so we could see another three inches.
“Tuesday is looking all right, and there could be some snow on Thursday and Friday, but it’s too early to know for certain.”
Ian said temperatures would remain low, with the potential to drop below -10C again overnight in some places tonight.
One car slid into a ditch on the B4077 near Alderton while parts of the A40 at Charlton Kings and from Andoversford to Northleach were shut.
Ed Robinson, 24, from Shipton Oliffe, said: “It was really bad when the snow was falling. They were ploughing the A40 but people were getting stuck.”
Snow ploughs and gritters were out but 60 motorists in Cheltenham and the Cotswolds became stranded on Saturday and were helped by police.
The weather caused several accidents on the M5 northbound near Worcester and cars tailed back more than 20 miles into Gloucestershire.
Tom Edwards, 28, who works in Cheltenham and lives in Worcester, said: “I left work at 1.45pm on Saturday and tried to head towards the M5 but it was chaos, cars were slipping all over the roads and it was getting worse by the minute.
“It took me 45 minutes, going no faster than 10mph, to get onto the M5 and by that point, the route was very dangerous.
“I was stuck on the M5 for three hours before I was able to reach Junction 6. Two lanes were like ice rinks.
“I saw 20 abandoned cars in Cheltenham alone. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Shoppers trying to leave Cheltenham in the worst of the blizzard on Saturday were forced to ditch their cars.
Evesham Road was hit hard, with many motorists having no option other than to walk.
One of those to abandon his vehicle was Echo editor Kevan Blackadder, who said: “I was pretty sure everything was OK but I had to leave the car on Evesham Road and walk to Woodmancote, with many others doing the same.”
On Saturday the A429 between Cirencester and Northleach was shut after a crash involving a fuel tanker and three vehicles near the Fossebridge Inn.
A Cheltenham man was taken to hospital after a collision in Leckhampton Road at 3.30pm on the same day.
John Kay, area manager for Gloucestershire Highways, said: “Although we didn’t have more snow on Sunday, temperatures plummeted and we continued to plough and grit.
“We are gritting the main network as planned but residential areas are not on the routes so do take extra care. We do not expect temperatures to lift so ice is a danger.”
Health bosses drafted in extra vehicles from St John Ambulance and the fire service to get to people and experienced a leap in 999 calls.
On Saturday, Great Western Ambulance Service responded to 230 calls in Gloucestershire, about 40 more than it would expect on a typical winter day.
Spokeswoman Victoria Eld said there had been more broken bones due to people falling and the cold was causing people respiratory problems.
She said: “We got to people, it just took longer than usual.”
A private agency was hired to pick up ambulance service workers stranded at home.
An appeal was put out for nurses by the county’s hospitals trust, with those living in Gloucester and Cheltenham asked to work if they could reach the hospitals.
A spokeswoman for Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Both hospitals had an increase in people coming into A&E – some due to injuries on the ice and others due to winter illnesses.
“As the snow is freezing we anticipate more people coming in. Staff are coping and some stayed overnight at hospitals as they couldn’t get home.”
Nicola Davies, spokeswoman for Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Our main role was providing drivers and four-wheel drive vehicles to support paramedics getting to emergencies.”
The Arctic conditions also battered trade in Cheltenham, dashing hopes for a bumper weekend before Christmas.
Owen Acland, manager of the Beechwood Shopping Centre, said: “We hoped it would be a big weekend but because of the weather it was quieter than an average Saturday.
“People stayed at home and maybe shopped online. It was very disappointing.”
Robin Jenkins, who owns a butchers shop in Bath Road, Cheltenham, said trade had been “dreadful”.
Echo weatherman Ian Thomas said more icy conditions are in the pipeline.
He said: “It will start at breakfast and continue throughout the day, so we could see another three inches.
“Tuesday is looking all right and there could be some snow on Thursday and Friday.”
Mr Thomas said temperatures would remain low, with the potential to drop below minus 10C again overnight in parts.
According to the Met Office, snowfalls this months have been the heaviest for December in nearly 20 years.
It could be the coldest December recorded since 1910.

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  • Profile image for This is Gloucestershire
    Craig, Cheltenham  |  December 21 2010, 10:53AM

    sally - last night cleeve hill was open and had fresh snow on the roads which actually gave a bit of grip, i managed to the entire journey to winchcombe in just rear wheel drive. Drive carefully tho as there are one or two patches where i slid a bit. My journey was done when there was no traffic at all, so i was able to maintain momentum. however, start stop driving in traffic may cause problems

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    Zoe, Gloucester  |  December 21 2010, 10:08AM

    Ah well, I'm a number cruncher so I can work OK at home. Point taken, though :)

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    AF, Glos  |  December 21 2010, 10:05AM

    Zoe, that's nice for you, but a lot of companies don't have that function, and I don't know what you do exactly but I don't have a high end PC to do my CAD work on and I doubt my company will provide it nor several hundred of my colleauges. And for the several hundred of assemblers who work on the assemly side, and the several hundred machinists, they aren't going to have the equipment either. Unless you're a pen pusher, number cruncher, most people need to be at work to be able to do work.

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    Sian, Glos  |  December 21 2010, 8:44AM

    Do you think if we all click on 'report abuse' for every post which repeats the same whinges about the council / management etc etc, those posts would be removed so we don't need to keep reading the same thing over and over?!!

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    lisa, GLOS  |  December 21 2010, 7:49AM

    Not everyone in the country can log on remoteley. Take super markets for example. Those shop workers re-filling shelves as some people feel the need to buy 6 loaves and 20 pints of milk leave them no option but to remain open. Butchers cant work from home. Delivery drivers cant do their work on line.

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    Zoe, Gloucester  |  December 21 2010, 7:28AM

    AF, I can connect to work servers perfectly well at home via Citrix. This is after all the 21st Century.

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    AF, Glos  |  December 21 2010, 5:56AM

    Ann, EXACTLY how many people do you think could work from home? If we could work from home normally and not have to venture out we would, never mind in the middle of winter!! Most people's jobs rely on the computers at work, not the ones at home as they are NOT connected to the servers etc they require. How many people do you think are in employment where their job is typing letters and sending the odd email? That's all about you can realistically do from home. Wake up....

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    Steady Driver, FoD  |  December 21 2010, 12:25AM

    Slow Driver - Spot on! People just don't seem to have been given the lesson of how to drive in these conditions! Modern cars don't help - a 1960's Ford Anglia on 155 tyres copes a lot better on snow than a 2000's Ford Focus on wider lower profile tyres. They are quick to moan about our services but not so quick to help themselves, seem to want a gritter/plough to drive in front of them all day! I do not want to pay even more taxes to pay for all of this equipment, none of it will be able to do anything because at the first sight of snow we all rush into our cars to go home, clogging up the very roads they are trying to keep clear. Knowing I live in an area of the country partial to a bit of snow and ice, I invested a few quid in a pair of second hand wheels and a pair of used, road legal "Mud and Snow" tyres - they wear a bit quicker and tiny bit noiser on the road at speed but I only have to use them for 500 miles a year, if that. Simply watch the weather forecast, if you think it'll snow then go out, change your wheels on drive axle, job done in half an hour. Recommended to anyone who has trouble in snow, worth every penny saved in potential bumps and dents!

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    Observer, cheltenham  |  December 20 2010, 11:32PM

    Quite apart from the well publicised failures of our international airports, this afternoon it took nearly 30 minutes to drive up the Gloucester Road from the High Street lights to Alstone Lane. Traffic was nose to tail. The road had not been blocked due to accidents or abandoned cars. This is a major route through Cheltenham towards the railway station and motorway. This government had plenty of warning in July from the review carried by David Quarmby about our lack of prepardness, and has failed to order sufficient salt and grit. Back in July Phillip Hammond told councils to ration thier supplies. Speaking in The Commons Phillip Hammond said that the roads had functioned satisfactorily. The situation in the Gloucester Road, a main arterial road through Cheltenham was hardly satisfactory.

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    Mr Robb, Quedgeley  |  December 20 2010, 11:25PM

    Why were the gritters so late going out? Not just in Glos but country wide? Are the council making a political point over government cutbacks Scoring a point, at a cost to peoples lifes ? I would put nothing past the hard left and left run councils, they might be say Conservative run, but most staff are left leaning, where do most Labour MPs come from , the unions and local councils Check it out I beleve they are using this to make political gain, ive never known the roads to be left as bad as they are