Teams working round the clock to tackle severe weather

Council teams continue to work around the clock to keep the county moving, as severe winter weather continues to cause disruption.
 
Further snow showers and freezing temperatures overnight have meant extremely difficult driving conditions this morning - despite round the clock work by gritting teams.

An amber warning is in place today - with further frequent and heavy snow showers expected today leading to some significant accumulations developing.

Further snow showers are expected on Thursday and Friday, again accompanied by very low temperatures and strong winds.

Road conditions are very poor and visibility is poor, and the Police and county council are warning motorists to only make journeys if they are absolutely necessary. In particular to avoid driving at night when conditions are even more hazardous.

Winter Services teams at the council have suspended normal non essential works to focus 24 hours on the current weather issues. In the past days gritters and snow ploughs have been out across the county in difficult conditions, covering almost 2,800 miles each day.

Farmers and other contractors have also been called in by the Council to support the gritting operation while local teams continue to work clearing main town centre footpaths, with grass cutters being adapted with snow plough and gritter attachments to help clear main town centre paths.

The council has over 100 staff involved in winter services, with a large stockpile of salt across the county. It is currently receiving an additional 9,500 tonnes of salt for the 28 multi-purpose gritters which cover 3,000 miles of county road. 

Many teams are working hard to maintain essential services with the authority’s Short Term Support Service staff having access to 4X4 cars to use in snowy conditions to enable them to get to their patients who live in harder to reach rural areas. 

Social care staff have also been out making home visits to elderly and vulnerable service users and contacting those who need extra support to check they are okay.

Today (Wednesday), over 140 schools were closed due to the weather and many school bus services affected.  Schools are responsible for letting parents know of their decisions and we are working with them to make sure these are made in good time.
 
A large number of bin collections couldn’t be made due to the very difficult conditions, with further disruptions possible as the week continues. Residents are urged to keep an eye on the council’s alerts system via the website or social media for details on collections.

Councillor Glen Sanderson, Cabinet Member for Environment and Local Services, said: “Our teams continue to work day and night to clear roads and address the issues caused by this severe winter weather.

“On behalf of all of us, I want to thank them.  I am hugely grateful to all the men and women who are working hard to keep the roads and footpaths clear and keep essential services running.  I am very proud of them.
 
“The severe weather situation is set to continue with further heavy snow, freezing conditions and strong winds forecast for the next couple of days so we are having to focus our resources on the main primary and secondary routes in terms of gritting and snow clearance.  Snow is still very likely to cause significant local travel difficulties.

“Bin collections have been badly affected as it is often unsafe to take large heavy bin lorries on steep or icy estate roads, and we have provided advice to residents on whether or not we are likely to catch up with missed collections during the continuing bad weather.  Instead waste staff are helping support the snow clearance activity, in and around town centres and other key routes.

“We’re also working to provide extra support for the elderly and vulnerable in our communities - as thousands of people rely on home visits each week.  Our Fire and Rescue teams are supporting frontline services such as district nurses - to ensure that they can make essential visits.

“I urge everyone to remain vigilant, look out for elderly or vulnerable neighbours, and only travel if absolutely necessary.”

The public can keep up to date on the winter weather via the council’s social media channels:

Twitter: @northumberlands
Facebook: www.facebook.com/nccalerts
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