Transport Secretary: 'Public should access grit and salt'

The public should have access to grit and salt supplies to help clear roads, the Transport Secretary suggested today as the worst December weather for 19 years continued.

With icy weather warnings in place across much of the country, Philip Hammond said people should have access to supplies so they can tackle roads and pavements which are not treated by councils.

Forecasters said the prolonged cold weather and snowfall is the worst for December since 1981, with the Christmas period also likely to see frost, ice and snow showers.

Severe weather warnings were in place across Scotland, Northern Ireland, Yorkshire and Humber and East Midlands.

Mr Hammond told BBC Breakfast: "In many cases people would like to have the opportunity to have access to grit and salt supplies so that on roads that are not on the council's gritting route they can... make the pavements a bit easier, make it a bit easier for them to get out of their driveways.

"People have always dug their way out of their own driveways... and I would encourage people who are able to do that kind of thing to continue doing it for themselves and for neighbours who are perhaps less able to."

He added that there was no need to call in the Army in England because councils were still able to call contractors if they needed help clearing roads.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the Army helped emergency services on Monday and that Edinburgh Council had requested personnel to help clear roads.

Last night temperatures dropped to minus 18C at Shap Fell in Cumbria, while Edinburgh saw minus 15C, and the Manchester area minus 10C.

Met Office forecaster John Hammond said: "December has got off to a very cold start. The last time we saw prolonged cold weather in December with such low temperatures and this amount of snow fall was 1981."

Temperatures will drop beyond minus 10C again tonight in parts of Scotland and the North East, with the mercury across the country dipping below zero.

Motorists were warned to watch out for ice on untreated roads.

The forecaster continued: "Tomorrow temperatures will start to creep up above freezing, with 3-5C in a number of areas. It will be a fine, dry day for many.

"There will be something of a recovery of the course of the weekend with 7/8C in some places. We haven't seen those sorts of temperatures for a while.

"But overnight temperatures will still be quite low and ice will still be a problem, especially in the mornings.

"Next week the north easterly winds will bring in the cold weather once more with an increasing risk of snow showers, especially in northern and eastern parts of the UK.

"It's going to stay cold for much of the rest of the month with widespread risk of ice, frost and snow showers."

Last night hundreds of cars were stranded on snowbound roads for a second night as temperatures plunged towards minus 20C.

Drivers across central Scotland had been forced to abandon their vehicles after the wintry weather brought the country's busiest highways to a halt.

Transport Scotland advised drivers in the country's central belt to make only "essential journeys" today.

The agency said "significant" overnight progress had been made towards reopening those parts of the network still affected by the conditions, but the westbound M8 between junctions one to five remained closed.

As the big freeze kept its grip on the country, more than 100 vehicles were also trapped on an exposed route in North Yorkshire last night when a sudden heavy snow shower came in.

Police said all the cars stuck on the A171 near Whitby were released overnight in a joint operation between officers and snow ploughs.

A North Yorkshire force spokesman said there were no injuries and all the drivers "were recovered without incident".

The weather was also causing delays and cancellations across the train network, and airports including Glasgow and Edinburgh were warning of possible delays to flights.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin (based in London)

£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Swiss Banking and Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - 6 month FTC - Central London

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity f...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before