The street of hot tempers and cold comfort (CORRECTED)

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The Independent Online

THERE IS only ever one sunny side of the street in Smithy Bridge Road, Rochdale. Folk on the one side are pounds 6 a week better off than those on the other.

Cold weather payments to the old, the poor and the disabled are paid only after a week of freezing temperatures. Smithy Bridge Road (East) looks to temperature readings at Wilsden, West Yorkshire, for its potential payout. On the west side, the thermometer at Manchester airport opens the Department of Social Security tills.

Last month, Wilsden froze but the airport did not. The DSS said the system had been revised over the years and lines had to be drawn somewhere, although there were bound to be apparent anomalies. They had better not stand in the middle of Smithy Bridge Road and say that.

Yesterday half the street, with gas fires going full blast and pensioners downing ginger wine by the pailful, was glowing as their needy neighbours were left to warm themselves on invective.

One pensioner turned political meteorologist said: 'We are much nearer to Yorkshire than the airport and it's bound to be warmer in South Manchester because it's a built-up area.' She had failed to qualify for the payments.

'Here we are right on the Pennines, there are open fields all around us and our house takes a lot of heating.

'My husband is recovering from an illness and an extra pounds 6 would have come in very handy indeed. We definitely do not live on the sunny side of the street.'

Lynnette Wilnslow, who has three children and was cold- shouldered by the DSS, said: 'You would have thought the weather would be the same throughout Rochdale.'

Even those warmed by the Yorkshire chill were sympathetic.

Mary Fallon, who lives on the cold side of the street, has received her payment. 'This rule is ridiculous. How can this side of the street be colder than the other? Surely everyone in Rochdale should be entitled to this payment.'


In a front-page report on 11 March, it was said that Lynette Windslow, of Rochdale, had been denied DSS support. Mrs Windslow complained to the Press Complaints Commission and we are now satisfied that Mrs Windslow is not involved with the DSS. We apologise for any embarrassment.