Snow leaves motorists across Staffordshire stranded
MOTORISTS were stranded in hours of tailbacks after a prolonged snow storm caused traffic chaos across the region.
The weekend cold snap forced a number of drivers to abandon their vehicles as several roads were closed.
Thousands of Stoke City fans were among those worst affected – stuck for hours along the A500, A50 and even A34 – following Saturday's game at the Britannia Stadium as the treacherous conditions led to the closure of many slip-roads.
Snow began to fall at Saturday lunchtime and continued into the evening.
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Traffic came to a standstill for several hours on all main routes through the Potteries – forcing many motorists to make alternative plans or face hours sat in their vehicles.
Stoke fan Malcolm Clarke, who is also Football Supporters' Federation chairman, booked into a hotel after giving up trying to return to his home in Manchester.
He said: "As news came in that the M6 was closed Northbound, we considered going to the station and getting the train, but then realised that we probably couldn't even get to Stoke Station. We then began to realise the possible danger of having to spend the night in the car – not a good idea at the best of times – and certainly not when you've got a two-year-old onboard.
"We were very relieved to finally reach the Premier Inn at Trentham Gardens at about 9pm for an unscheduled overnight stop. Fortunately it had rooms available."
It took fellow City fan Adam Knight almost two hours to get from the Britannia Stadium to his home in Meir.
The 29-year-old teacher said: "The traffic was moving nicely until I hit the slip road from the KFC in Fenton which leads to the A50. There was no grit so cars were getting stuck going up the hill. The A50 was gridlocked as all the major slip roads were closed."
A number of firefighters from Longton were spotted helping stricken motorists attempting to leave the A50. Kind-hearted drivers also offered their support as many were forced to leave their cars and walk home.
Along with his father and neighbours Michael Ridgway, of Stone Road, helped rescue a number of vehicles which had become stuck close to his home on the A34.
He said: "Overall we helped move one lorry and about 15 cars. One was pushed 100 metres because the driver had run out of fuel."
Due to the treacherous conditions on the roads the area's public transport also suffered.
First bus cancelled its services at 9pm on Saturday. First Midlands network manager Paul de Santis said: "We pulled the services because we couldn't get around. We had to address the safety of the drivers."
Taxi driver Mick Baskerville, of Cheadle-based Premier Taxis, says the bad weather has meant a very quiet weekend.
The 46-year-old, who owns the firm, said: "Sunday has been very quiet. Usually you have people going out for lunch but that hasn't been the case because of the weather.
"I picked up some Stoke fans from the Britannia Stadium at 5.30pm on Saturday and we didn't get back to Cheadle until 9pm. The conditions were terrible and we got stuck several times."
The heavy snow caused disruption across the county – with the Met Office reporting that 11 centimetres had fallen in Leek.
In the Moorlands a number of farmers' vehicles were deployed to help keep the region's roads clear.
Staffordshire County Council contracted out the work in the area because many of the areas are hard to reach.
The authority cancelled all annual leave and utilised all 60 of its wagons and all 120 drivers.
Gritters were sent out at 5am on Saturday morning and continued throughout yesterday.
County councillor Mike Maryon, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "We had planned for this after seeing the forecast on Friday.
"It has been very challenging as we can't be everywhere at the same time and we have had to focus on the main routes."
In Uttoxeter more than 100 vehicles were abandoned on the A50 as motorists were forced to give up on their journeys.
Dozens sought refuge at the Uttoxeter Premier Inn.
The hotel's duty manager Felicity Bowyer, of Trentham, said: "Because of the snow we had a lot of families booking in on the night. At about 11pm we had more people coming in but we didn't have any rooms left so we offered them some warm drinks.
"We also got out some duvets and people made up some beds in the restaurant and slept there overnight."
Motorist Paul Lucking was among those who stayed at the hotel.
Mr Lucking, who was returning home after a trip to Sheffield, said: "Along with many others, we were stuck on the A50 in a 10-mile traffic jam with no other route home.
"After heavy snow and an accident the road was at a complete standstill for 10 hours."
The extreme weather also saw the emergency services in action. Firefighters were sent to two incidents yesterday where dogs needed to be rescued from icy waters.
Just before 8am crews from Newcastle and Sandyford arrived at Tunstall Park where a pet dog had fallen through the ice and its owner had attempted to reach it.
Later in the day another dog needed to be lifted from the water after it had become surrounded by ice in the middle of Hales Hall Pool in Cheadle.
Both animals were rescued and reunited with their respective owners.
Despite the disruption caused by the snow, many families were out yesterday enjoying the weather.
Weather reports suggest there will be no repeat snow showers over the next few days.
Today's forecast is for mist with highs of around three degrees.
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