Families 'rescue' 999 crews
FAMILIES are stepping up a campaign for a grit bin in their street – after eight residents had to push an ambulance up their snow-covered road.
Neighbours and passersby spent 20 minutes manhandled the stricken ambulance up the icy incline in Melstone Avenue, Tunstall.
It was taking Melstone Avenue resident Nicola Turner to hospital with pneumonia on Friday.
The 999 drama comes as Mrs Turner's husband, Richard French, has been locked in a battle with Stoke-on-Trent City Council for a grit bin on the road.
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The bin would cost an estimated £400 to install, plus the additional cost of filling it with salt.
Mr French, who is chairman of Queensland Residents' Association, said: "This was an emergency situation and the ambulance was trapped on the road.
"Fortunately my wife was in the care of the paramedics but if this had been a stabbing or shooting or something time-critical it could have been much worse.
"The paramedic asked where the nearest grit bin was but it is on King William Street which is no use to us because it was too far to walk in the snow."
Residents were told in October that the grit bin could not be installed because of a lack of council cash.
Mr French added: "The avenue is treacherous in the snow. There's an incline and a bend and it's a nightmare to get up for heavy vehicles.
"Not only has this affected my family, but I feel that I've let people on the road down by not managing to get the council to give us a bin.
"It is touching to know that so many people helped my wife and the ambulance crews, but I'm not surprised."
Mrs Turner is expected to remain in hospital for 10 days.
Neighbour Marie Middleweek, aged 60, said: "I'm sure everyone would be happy to pitch in and grit the road if only the council would give us the bin. We're absolutely desperate for some grit."
Freda Baskerville, aged 74, who also lives on the road, said: "The sharp bend is the big problem because cars slide around that coming down the hill and then can't get out of the avenue."
The council has installed 450 grit bins across the city.
Councillor Ruth Rosenau, cabinet member for transportation, said: "We have certain criteria for issuing these bins outside of normal gritting runs.
"We have 6,500 roads in the city and simply don't have the resources to provide grit bins for all of them."
A handful of schools remained closed in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire yesterday because of the weather. They included Eaton Park Academy, in Bucknall, and Silverdale Primary School.
But bin collections resumed across the region after being suspended for two days in some areas.