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Oldham gritters praised, neighbours slammed

Reporter: KEN BENNETT
Date online: 02 February 2009

Snow shuts roads and schools

Pictures by ANTHONY MILLER and DARREN ROBINSON

A FRUSTRATED Oldham councillor today lashed neighbouring boroughs who failed to grit key highways, causing major disruption to rush-hour traffic after freezing overnight conditions.

Mark Alcock, cabinet member for infrastructure and the environment, launched his salvo after police closed the A635 Greenfield-Holmfirth road, the A640 Denshaw-Rochdale and A62 Oldham-Huddersfield roads.

Hulme Grammar schools, Saddleworth, Failsworth, Alexandra and Alt schools were closed, as 5cms of snow fell.

Councillor Alcock revealed the council has already spent £540,000 on the massive gritting and snow plough operation this winter to ensure travellers a safe passage.

Overnight snow driven by biting winds made driving treacherous, but Councillor Alcock said: “My teams have been magnificent. They have done a terrific job and I am really proud of them.

“But I am really upset that, for whatever reasons, there have been problems on roads at the Rochdale and Kirklees borders.

“We are going out doing our job — and more — to ensure Oldhamers can get about their business but the police have been forced to closed some key roads because they have not been gritted on the other side of our borders.

“It’s very frustrating — particularly as the forecast is for worse snow to come in the next 24 hours.”

Tony Noblet, Oldham’s highways chief, said: “Gritting teams were out for 6pm yesterday, working through the night to keep main routes open. We also carried out a major sweep on secondary roads.

“Everything is running well and our teams have done a Trojan job. But they have been hampered by snow falling on roads they have gritted, then freezing.”

Insp Danny Milovanovic, who leads the Saddleworth and Lees neighbourhood policing team, confirmed the closure of the Holmfirth and Rochdale roads, adding: “Conditions on the other side of our borders are certainly hazardous. ”

Oldham mountain rescue team, working in support of ambulance crews, were on standby to assist police.

Team members helped an ambulance stranded with a patient in a snow-blocked Oldham road.

Postal deliveries were disrupted by the snowy conditions and a postwoman on her way to work at Dobcross was injured in a crash.

Dobcross post master Suhki Singh said postal deliveries by van to local villages had been cancelled. “However, we will ensure post gets through if our teams can reach homes and businesses on foot”

Early morning travellers using the A62 Oldham-Huddersfield road reported hazardous conditions before its closure.

The Highways Agency advised motorists not to travel unless their journeys were really necessary.

“Some problems have been caused by jack-knifed lorries which in return prevent gritters from doing their job,” said a spokesman.

“Things are likely to get worse too, so we’d ask every traveller to think before setting off on a journey.”

Saddleworth School closed its doors this morning, as teachers struggled to get in over treacherous moorland roads.

Language teacher Meg Todd said: “The problem is that we have teachers coming from places like Marsden and Meltham, and some of them can’t even get off their drives. “

Castleton Road and Fir Lane, between Thornham St James’ School, past the Puckersley pub down to the centre of Royton, were also closed this morning.

Tomorrow, up to 20cms of snow is forecast for hills, with 10 cms in Oldham.

Comments

I must must congratulate the highways dept for gritting the roads this morning.I traveled to oldham from shaw at 8-ooam
no problem,WELL DONE LADS.

again the grit was only laid down at 6pm yesterday! it was snowing at 12pm! and this weather was predicted days earlier!
Tony Noblet is lucky that the roads around oldham where reasonably quiet and no major traffic jams where created as people where put off travelling into work.
the gritting services provided are still not 100% up to scratch! take a look at tameside! they're the best!

and the A635 holmfirth road is closed for safety reasons. even for gritters! so why Mr Alcock is criticising kirklees council i dont know! his gritters didnt go up there!

Isn't this a case of pot calling the kettle? I can remember two occasions during this long winter when Oldham did not grit because they were hoping that rain that was forecast might wash away the snow. It didn't and everything froze and there was chaos. Keep up the good work.

Perhaps the staff at Saddleworth School should be taught how to use a shovel so they can dig themselves out! The lazy tykes just wanted yet another day's holiday.

Why does this country grind to a halt when there is a little snow ?? We in oldham used to have this type of weather each and every winter what happened to us - have we become soft and why have we lost the ability to cope with anything other than perfect weather? Stop complaining and get on with it !!!!!

fedupoldhamer.First of all the gritters were out from 2pm,and secondly with the wind that we had the roads are snow covered again as soon as they are gritted,and the grit needs the traffic on it to do the job its supposed to do.And thirdly,oldham gritters continuously grit our top roads to the borders but if rochdale and kirklees don't do the other half then those roads have to be closed.

thank you watcher for the praise for these gritting drivers.in this weather these lads work over 12 hours shifts with no meal breaks

We grew up in Oldham through wind, hale, snow, cold and fog the schools never closed ever, why now??????????

You wouldn't congratulate anyone if you lived at Waterhead. No gritters since lunchtime and the road up Austerlands is treacherous now. Cars have been abandoned and others are nearly sliding into them. The main A62 from Oldham to Saddleworth and they can't keep it clear. Shame on them !

Glad to see the gritters had been out, but what the hell was happening on lees road? Its just taken me 2 1/2 hours from mumps to lees.

Well done to all the gritting staff its not an easy job and they work long very cold hours when we are all in our beds , yes they get paid but dont forget so do all the lazy teachers that make the snow a good excuse for keeping nearly all our schools shut , most of my family work for the NHS and they all got to work thanks to our gritters.

chatty123 read the story again! the gritters where out at 6pm. giving the snow 6 hours to stick to the roads. i hadnt seen an evidence of the roads being gritted before.
with those 6 hours lost where traffic would have been at its highest the grit would have been mixed with the snow to keep the roads clear.
and two of the three boarders with kirklees where not gritted as it was deemed too dangerous to drive up. i could do though! no grit there on sunday night about 9pm!

It's 20 December, and I tried to make a short journey in Royton at lunchtime and from what I can see not a single road in Oldham has been gritted!!!

 

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