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Let’s give credit where it is due

with 5 comments

West Park, South Shields
South Tyneside copes with snow better than its neighbours

I’m not sure that our councillors really need to hold a special meeting to discuss the weather situation they might as well chat about the sunshine on the Veldt for what good it might do, yes we have a lot of snow on top of hard packed ice on our roads, but as temperatures plummeted to below -8 Celsius overnight our main roads were not too bad at all.

I’ve been out of the borough a few times this week, and when travelling through Hebburn to Bill Quay and Pelaw there is a marked difference in the road conditions as soon as one gets into Gateshead Council’s area of responsibility.  The Felling by-pass was treacherous on Monday and not much better on Wednesday, Sunderland’s efforts to keep the roads clear have not been a lot better and certainly not as good as ours. So let’s give some credit where it is due, those four gritters have been doing a tremendous job whilst we sleep snug and warm in our beds!

At least we haven’t faced main routes reduced to single lanes with a three foot deluge in the outside lane! On top  of that I’ve witnessed teams gritting footpaths (well they can hardly sweep up litter) and they’ve also deposited small stocks of rock salt in the estates to allow local people to do their own bit to keep paths and driveways clear. Our main shopping centres are largely cleared of snow within a couple of days too, so perhaps the only point worth discussing is stocks, availability, and whether or not we have enough to last for the rest of the winter. Admittedly, this spell of freezing weather has arrived much earlier than we would normally expect, but who is to say that January and February might not produce the normal quota of snow and ice?

I have nothing but praise for the way that South Tyneside Council has handled the current situation, but there will always be a few who might complain, they need to see the bigger picture and realise the importance of the priority routes which have been kept in really good condition under the circumstances.

Another interesting thing to note is, at the times of the heaviest snow falls, (yesterday evening and last Friday evening) before the gritters had hit the roads one could not tell where the road ended and the pavement started. Yet traffic was moving along quite nicely, slowly of course, and with large gaps between vehicles. I don’t think there were any huge accidents to note. It just proved to me that without gritted roads, the vast majority of drivers suddenly find some common sense and drive at the speed appropriate for the conditions, they appear to be much more wary of the possible dangers and many just stayed off the roads completely! Start gritting and they all start to speed up again – doh! (As with all rules, there were one or two exceptions.)

Now we just need to get some consistency between head teachers and the way in which they decide to open or close schools. Let me give you an example (without giving away names) ; yesterday the weather was a lot better than today, public transport was running fine, snow was soft and melting, yet one South Shields primary school decided to close because of transport difficulties. It’s neighbour, a community college stayed open under exactly the same conditions. Today, the situation is reversed, the college closed citing transport difficulties, but the primary school re-opened under far worse weather conditions than yesterday. Neither of them managed to get this information to the Town Hall in a timely fashion or to each other or to local news outlets where parents keep a close eye for information. Both of them made their decisions after children had set off for the school journey, which adds to parents’ difficulties in finding child minders or other supervision at short notice.

So perhaps head teachers need some coordination and clarification on their role as educators and informers, now that would be something more worthwhile for our councillors to discuss.

Oh, and the picture above was taken in the West Park, South Shields.

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Written by curly

December 3, 2010 at 1:53 pm

5 Responses

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  1. I’m not sure about the bigger picture of keeping the roads clear, try leaving for work at 6.30 am, none the less our council staff do a good job. I wonder how long before this kind of work is outsourced to save money. I sympathise with the schools, many of their staff live some distance away and have problems getting in, and there are clear anomalies with uniformity of closure. You have to remember that on the coast we are always that little bit warmer and it gets colder further inland. As for Gateshead it has a large rural population to service as compared with South Shields small mainly urban topography. Nice photo but there doesn’t seem to be much snow in West Park but scenic.


    December 3, 2010 at 4:41 pm

  2. If the job does get outsourced but the quality remains the same, then nobody is likely to complain, as for Gateshead it has major routes coming into and out of it, namely the A167, A184, A692, and the A695, how is it they don’t seem to be the highest priority roads to keep clear?


    December 3, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    • Perhaps it is going to be outsourced to a very distant snow clearance firm, Veldtsnowshovellers perhaps?

      Labour New Boy

      December 3, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    • The good folk who lose their jobs may complain, the point about Gateshead is that they are far bigger, they have a significant rural area to cover, there are a great number of villages and whilst the main rioutes may be open (albeit not to a high quality) there has to be a level of priority given to the rural population, in weather such as this they suffer more. I do not seek an argument I am merely suggesting things should not always be taken as seen.


      December 3, 2010 at 9:18 pm

  3. Is that wraith like figure in the snow storm,gritting his teeth, a Carter Ruck lawyer seeking instructions? The trial, if it materialises will outdo even tonight’s “Garrow” for dramatic content; nothing changes in the world of politics, rain, snow,or sunshine.

    Labour New Boy

    December 5, 2010 at 11:17 pm

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