Essex County Council came under fire this weekend as snow and ice caused traffic chaos on Sunday and Monday as a Met Office Yellow Alert remains in effect.
Sunday morning saw up to 3 inches of snow fall on parts of Colchester bringing the road network to a crawl as motorists attempted to travel.
Essex County Council advised on Twitter Sunday morning: “Gritting crews have been working tirelessly last night and in the early hours of this morning to grit up to 2,000 miles of road across #Essex in anticipation of snow showers”
They appealed to Monday morning motorists “Snow and ice likely to affect journeys again this morning – please plan ahead and leave extra time for your journey if it’s necessary.”
With over 2000 miles of road to cover, equivalent to 40% of the road network, Essex County Council reported their focus was to ensure the most important routes were kept clear.
Special thanks also went out to the farmers who lent a hand “Spare a thought for our gritter drivers who are out again today after a restless weekend which saw them gritting roads five times in 24 hours – thank you to them and the farmers who lent a hand to help keep Essex moving.”
Some motorists were not convinced. Lynne Hill took to Twitter to comment “Seems like many of the Essex roads were missed, absolute disgrace.”
Others defended Essex County Council. ‘DW’ on Twitter said “It was gritted, but heavy rain overnight would have washed it away before it turned in to snow. Continuous heavy snow will eventually overcome grit anyway.”
Cllr. Ian Grundy, Cabinet Member for Highways, said “Despite facing challenging conditions our gritter crews did a fantastic job yesterday with lorries going out five times in 24 hours to grit the roads and ensure the county’s road network keeps moving.
“It takes around three hours to grit the routes we are responsible for which meant our crews were on the road for a total of 15 out of 24 hours covering over 2,000 miles of road.
“As well as our gritter crews, we have groups of farmers who use tractors with snow ploughs to clear more rural roads and lanes.
“Colleagues in the Police and Fire Service also help to keep the roads moving, even escorting gritter lorries to make sure they could re-stock on salt and get out again quickly.
“There are no issues with salt and grit supply – we are fully stocked and indeed, used a double concentration once the snow started to fall.
“Salt and grit becomes more effective when cars and lorries roll over it, so with lighter traffic yesterday, as it was a Sunday, this might have meant it took a little longer to become effective.”
The freezing weather is due to ease off over the next day or two with temperatures of 7c forecast for Wednesday.