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?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Belong: Volunteer Mentor for Offenders

This is a volunteer role with paid expenses : Belong: Seeking volunteers who c...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Apprentice Telesales & Marketing Opportunities

£10400 - £14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing, ambitious, en...

Day In a Page

Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests