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Council’s Highways team battles extreme conditions to keep major routes clear

2 March 2018

Highway crews from Swindon Borough Council have been ploughing and gritting the main routes across the Borough throughout the day following heavy snowfall last night.

More than a hundred tonnes of salt was put on around 200 miles of the town’s strategic highway network during three gritting runs yesterday – five times more than usual. Crews will continue to work around the clock to try to keep routes clear.

Council officers worked closely with colleagues from Wiltshire Council and Wiltshire Police to rescue drivers who were stranded on the A346 between Swindon and Marlborough. The motorists were taken to a rest centre at Chiseldon Village Hall before being taken by bus to Swindon. Volunteers from the Red Cross were also on hand to help.

Although the main routes within Swindon are passable with care, many of the rural routes remain challenging and motorists are urged to only travel if it is critical to avoid getting stuck on the roads.

Salthrop Hill has been closed to traffic and serious issues have been reported around Hinton Parva due to deep snow drifts.

Further snow is forecast for today and, as a result, a major incident has been declared for Wiltshire. Residents are encouraged to stay safe and make sure they are prepared.

Information on preparing for cold weather can be found at www.swindon.gov.uk/getreadyforwinter

When the temperature drops, some people are at increased risk of developing serious health conditions, falls and injuries. The Council is encouraging people to keep warm and well, aiming for temperatures of 18C indoors, to eat more fruit and vegetables and to keep active.

For up-to-date information on council services during the cold weather you can follow the Council on Twitter @swindonnews or on Facebook by searching ‘Swindon Borough Council’.

Cllr David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “The fact a major incident has been declared across Wiltshire tells you everything you need to know about the problems this extreme weather is causing across the county.

“Our gritting crews have battled their way through extremely challenging conditions around the clock and they are doing their utmost to keep the roads clear. However, more snow is forecast and it really is important that people heed the warnings given by Wiltshire Police and do not travel unless it is absolutely critical.

“Despite the conditions, many council staff are continuing to help our residents whether it be our Homeline team who provide vital support to the vulnerable or our Housing repairs team who have fixed almost a 150 heating systems over the last couple of days.

“Please keep up to date with our social media and website for road closures throughout the day.”

 

Waste and recycling collections

All household waste and recycling collections have been suspended today and residents are advised to take their containers off the public highway over the weekend if they are able to. Black wheelie bins and blue bags can be re-presented for 6.30am on Monday and left out as crews will endeavour to collect before the next scheduled collection. Recycling boxes, plastics and garden waste will be collected on the next collection date, although excess recycling will be collected provided it is sorted into suitable, sturdy containers - one for paper/card and one for glass/cans/foil/aerosols. Garden waste crews will help collect black bin waste next week to catch up with the backlog so the garden waste service will not be running until later in the week.

 

Household Waste Recycling Centres 

The Household Waste Recycling Centre in Cheney Manor industrial estate is currently closed but is planned to be open tomorrow and Sunday. Please follow guidance on driving to the site and check our website to make sure the centre is open.

 

Schools

All schools in Swindon were closed today. Please check school websites and listen to local radio for updates on plans for Monday.

 

Transport and travel

Our eight gritters will continue to spread salt and plough the main routes. Some roads may also be closed if they become too dangerous, especially steep hills. For more information about gritting and road closures, including which roads are gritted, visit the Council’s website. Wiltshire Police’s website will be updated with which routes are affected - www.wiltshire.police.uk/article/649/Road-closures

The Council’s Tree Team are also on standby to clear any fallen trees as a result of snow. Bus services may also stop and local bus company websites will have further updates.

 

Rough sleepers

The Council has already implemented the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol for rough sleepers and there are a number of beds available for those that need them. So far accommodation has been found for 42 individuals and help was offered to a further six people who refused help. The Council will accommodate anyone who presents themselves as homeless and will use additional accommodation such as B&Bs and hotels if needed. People can alert the Council to rough sleepers in need of support by visiting www.streetlink.org.uk

 

Crematorium and Register Office

The Register Office has closed but the Crematorium is hoping to open as normal over the weekend. However, if the weather is too bad then it will be closed and all people with bookings will be notified and offered new times as soon as possible.

 

Libraries

Due to the adverse weather conditions we will be closing Central, West and North libraries today at 15:30. Extended access will only be available until 18:00. It is anticipated that these three libraries will be open as usual tomorrow (Saturday) and Central open on Sunday. Extended access at these sites will run 8:00 – 18:00. Park and Highworth libraries are closed today and will remain closed over the weekend. There will be no extended access at these sites today or over the weekend.

 

Council Housing

Although weather conditions are bad, the Council and its partners are doing everything possible to attend to housing repairs and are giving priority to vulnerable and elderly customers. So far almost 150 heating systems have been repaired by the Council’s repairs team.

Customers are advised to expect some potential delays, especially on routine non-urgent jobs but to be assured that repair teams will attend as soon as possible. Tips on how to keep warm are available through our winter web pages: www.swindon.gov.uk/getreadyforwinter

 

Abandoned cars

Motorists who may have been forced to leave their cars in Swindon Borough Council owned car parks or by the side of the road due to the bad weather will not be issued with parking tickets.