True grit keeps North Staffordshire's roads moving as ice sets in
GRITTING teams were out in force across the region's roads last night as families were braced for a bitter winter freeze.
Forecasters predicted lows of -3C for Staffordshire and Cheshire overnight, with temperatures not expected to rise above 1C today.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council said it was monitoring the forecast around the clock and sent gritters out from 6pm yesterday, after the morning's snowfall caused problems for some motorists.
Staffordshire County Council had its fleet of gritters out overnight, and sent snow ploughs to clear snow from Moorlands roads, while Cheshire East Council said it was also constantly monitoring the forecast.
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Councillor Ruth Rosenau, the city council's cabinet member for regeneration, planning and transportation, said: "The gritting crews are on call around the clock and are always ready to go at a moment's notice. They have treated the 125 miles that make up our main roads as well as frequently used bus routes and those that lead to ambulance, fire and police stations along with hospitals and all of the city's secondary schools."
The county council said areas in Newcastle and the Moorlands were particularly badly affected yesterday, and its fleet was out again last night after rain increased the chance of icy roads.
A spokesman said: "On Monday we gritted around 2,600 km (1,615 miles) of roads, which is around 43 per cent of the network. Around 700 tonnes of grit have been used."
Cheshire East Councillor David Topping, cabinet member in charge of environmental services, said: "We do expect the freezing temperatures to stay with us for the next few days at least."
The rush-hour snow yesterday morning caused delays for many drivers, with roads in Hanley particularly problematic. Electrician Phil Barker, aged 33, said: "It took me an-hour-and-a-half to get from Leek to Hanley. Even though the A53 was clear of snow, traffic was crawling all the way from Endon.
"Some roads were quite bad when I got to Hanley though. Milton Road and Town Road were slippy going uphill."
Staff at Richer Sounds, in Providence Street, Hanley, said the road conditions outside the shop had been hazardous.
Manager Gareth Copeland said: "It was pretty treacherous. We saw cars going into the back of each other, and a hearse struggling to drive up the slope. It was worst between 11am and 12pm, then it got better."
Despite some tricky driving conditions, police said there were few accidents. A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: "The only calls we had related to the snow were in relation to cars skidding in the Bucknall New Road area. Other than that it was business as usual."
There were no school closures due to snow in the area, but Birches Head High School was shut for the day due to burst pipes and a boiler breakdown. It was expected to be open again today.
Hundreds of homes in Silverdale went without electricity for more than 18 hours during the first snowfall of the year.
Families suffered a power cut at 6pm on Sunday night as temperatures dropped to below freezing.
Power was eventually restored at 11am yesterday.
Mark Harrison, of Sutton Avenue, Silverdale, said: "We were completely stuck without power. We have a four-week-old child in the house."
Electricity supplier eon is still investigating the cause.