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Winter weather worries Mancunians despite council reassurances

By Karl Dyer

Worried residents are fearing the worst this winter despite reassurances from Greater Manchester councils over tackling severe weather.

Freezing weather has already claimed lives in Glasgow and north Lincolnshire this week while the A57 Snake Pass running from Manchester through the Peak District was closed due to ice and snow.

Fears have now arisen after Met Office experts said snow and ice will hit the rest of the country as the weekend looms.

“From Thursday evening, there is a snow risk as far south as Birmingham,” said forecaster Dan Williams. “The guidance is for perhaps 20cm-30cm on hills and 5-10cm at lower levels.”

He added: “Saturday will see frost and widespread road ice on untreated roads, with wintry showers for the whole of the UK apart from the south-east.”

Mancunian Matters took to the streets to ask the public whether they believed Greater Manchester councils were prepared for snow and ice

Three quaters of those interviewed did not believe that Manchester was set for winter weather and would fall foul to the weather just like last year.

Around 15% believed local authorities had taken some measures to improve the city’s defences while only 10% felt as though there local area was set to battle the snow and ice.

These views come regardless of local authorities’ reassurances that they have reviewed last year’s struggles and are better equipped this year.

Manchester City Council has continued to put emphasis on the work of volunteers who last year teamed up with schools to ensure they remained open.

Councillor Paul Andrews, Executive Member for Neighbourhood Services, added: “We will continue to prioritise gritting on the busiest routes, the steepest roads and roads around key services such as schools, hospitals, bus routes, railway, Metrolink stations and Manchester Airport.”

Trafford Council’s Stephanie Sykes pointed out their use of quad bikes and hand-gritting teams alongside usual methods as key in creating a 24/7 standby service.

A salt barn, funded through the AGMA North West Improvement Efficiency Partnership and Trafford Council, will hold around 5000 tonnes of salt and provide enough for nine other AGMA councils.

The salt barn will provide a more cost-effective service through keeping salt dry meaning less is needed and salt can be provided for commercial and personal use.

Bury Council will share with neighbouring Bolton Council’s depot for a second year running to create an effective service.

Around 300 salt bins are in place at known trouble spots and Councillor Tony Isherwood explained the problems regarding bins.

“We tend to receive a lot of requests from residents for new salt bins, but the fact is we don’t have any more to give out,” he said.

“We simply don’t have the resources to provide them in every road or street that isn’t on a gritting route.

There is also a problem during periods of prolonged severe weather where salt rocks must be conserved and only primary routes are gritted.

Deborah Halley, from Bury, believed this was the problem that most residents had with their local council.

“It’s fair enough when there’s a little bit of snow but when there’s tonnes it’s like the council just crumbles,” she said.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) said that they would continue to work alongside Metrolink operators MRDL to limit the amount of disruptions.

In severe weather, trams will be run overnight when services are not running to keep the overhead power lines free from ice, frost and snow

Councillor Andrew Fender, chairman of the TfGM Committee, emphasised the importance of being prepared for any conditions and not relying on local authorities.

“While it can be difficult to know what’s around the corner, I would encourage everyone to plan ahead now by thinking about how they travel and what their alternative options are,” he said.

For information on your council’s winter weather preparations see their respective websites.

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