In the last couple of days we have seen several inches of snow fall in Reading. It was the first real test of the Council’s preparedness following the heavy snow fall last winter. Several things were different this time. The primary and secondary gritting routes had been reviewed and emphasis put onto keep the bus routes open. More grit bins have been provided in the areas away from the gritting routes and two new mini snow ploughs have been bought to more effectively clear pavements in the town centre and some areas outside.
I was impressed at how Council staff responded to the latest snow fall. Major roads were kept open and traffic flowed, most buses continued to run as normal, and the town centre was open as thousands of shoppers flooded in to do Christmas shopping. The few bus routes that were truncated in the morning were largely back to normal by the afternoon. Yesterday afternoon I drove into the town centre to do my own shopping and was pleased to see that the two bridges pathways had been cleared using the two mini snow ploughs.
The messages I have received from members of the public are encouraging, as most people realise that so far this winter the Council is better prepared and better organised. I pay tribute to the many Council staff who have worked hard to ensure that the rest of us can go about our business almost unaffected.
I am also pleased to note that more people are clearing paths outside their properties. The Council has published new Central Government advice that individuals should not fear prosecution if they clear paths, unless of course they do something very silly and are grossly negligent. As an aside it is rather amusing to see one of our Labour Councillors criticising the then Labour controlled Council and Labour Government for “not being in a position to give advice”. I am sure he will now welcome the sensible advice issued by the new Conservative/Lib Dem Government and Council!