Richard Willis's Blog

First for local news and first for comment

Snow and Ice Brings Reading to a Standstill

It is unusual for us in the South of England to enjoy snow that settles before Christmas but we seem to be especially prone to it this year. The snow of last week had not cleared when this afternoon we have seen heavy falls of snow on top of existing ice and snow. (My road is shown in the picture on the left)

I needed to go into Reading this afternoon and set off shortly after the new snow started. I am quite experienced in driving in snow and therefore warmed the engine before setting off and began gently pumping my brakes as I got rolling. They were well frozen and took some time to begin to work. I headed down through Caversham  and came up against the grid-locked traffic down Bryants Avenue. As the snow was falling increasingly heavily and the traffic looked awful I decided to head back home before it got worse.

It seems that the snow caught our local highways team on the hop as there was no obvious gritting or salting on even the main roads. Cars were therefore struggling on even the most gentle slope and I certainly had a few hairy moments heading back up Lower Henly Road and Caversham Park Road.

Anyway I was fortunate to get back home safely and am now snug and warm on the sofa in front of the TV. I hope that all my readers are alright and managed to make it home OK. We are so much less able to cope with cold weather in this country than many other countries.

Keep safe and keep warm!

UPDATE: 7pm – I am hearing that Peppard Road, which runs north out of Reading, has been closed to traffic. Lower Caversham is blocked with traffic and stuck cars. Pedestrians are having to help push emergency vehicles and stuck cars.

UPDATE: 8:30pm – Reading Borough Council have issued the following notice “There are now indications that traffic is beginning to move again but we would urge all road-users affected by the current adverse weather and road conditions to stay inside their vehicle, if at all possible, and to stay as warm as possible. The authorities are monitoring the situation closely and are doing what they can to resolve it.

Motorists who decide they must leave their vehicles are advised to exercise extreme caution when travelling on foot.

In order not to worsen traffic congestion, road-users that decide they have to abandon their vehicle must not obstruct the road in any circumstances. To assist drivers, parking restrictions will not be enforced overnight on roads and in car parks run by Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire Councils and by NCP and The Oracle.

If overnight accommodation is needed, we would advise motorists to stay with nearby friends or relatives, if possible, or to make use of hotel accommodation or contact the police or their local authority.”

UPDATE: I have posted another article here now that I have had discussions with senior Council Officers about yesterday’s events. There are some typically petulant comments on one local Lib Dem blog reflecting the way that some local Lib Dem politicians have sought to use yesterdays weather crisis for their own political advantage. More responsible politicians have been busily working behind the scenes to find out the facts and ensure that lessons are learned.


December 21, 2009 - Posted by | Local


  1. my husband works in reading (we live in Birmingham) but luckily he decided to work from home today , his work colleges are not so lucky TWO at present are stuck at a warehouse for the night as they didn’t make it out .one tried to get out and is now stuck in Morrison’s petrol station,and one managed to get a hotel room.

    Comment by d foster | December 21, 2009 | Reply

  2. It was important for me to get home to Caversham Heights.
    I abandoned my car at Kennet Island and walked through Reading – just as well as I think I’d had to have stayed very late with the car. No doubt when I go to pick it up it will have been clamped; far too good an opportunity to miss! – Happy Christmas.

    Comment by roger | December 21, 2009 | Reply

  3. I am slightly surprised at your laid back attitude to the chaos on Reading roads yesterday. Whilst you were snug in front of the TV there were thousands of people sitting in their cars for hours because the council hadn’t gritted the roads. Whilst I appreciate that as a Councillor it may not be your direct responsibility, it is clearly a failing somewhere. Where should we be lookinf for answers?

    Comment by Caroline Eveleigh | December 22, 2009 | Reply

    • Caroline – I can assure you that I am not at all laid back. I had already requested information from Council officers and an enquiry after the event, when I blogged last night but unlike our local Lib Dems I did not see fit to jump onto every local radio station to publicise the fact. I do understand that many people locally and across the South East were stuck in their cars etc last night, while I was warm at home but I do not see what I could have done about that.

      You may like to read my new article this morning which takes a more comprehensive look at the situation now that the full scale of the problem is known:

      Comment by Richard Willis | December 22, 2009 | Reply

  4. “And ensure that lessons are learned”
    Remember February in this year , when we had 2 inches of snow that fell in the night and stopped at 1 o’clock………………..nothing happened in the night to clear or grit any roads. Then chaos in the morning with people trying to go about their normal business!
    Lessons to be learned……don’t make me laugh ……………RBC has severe learned disability!

    Comment by howard thomas | December 24, 2009 | Reply

  5. make that learning disability!

    Comment by howard thomas | December 24, 2009 | Reply

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