SNOW: Roads come to a standstill in Swindon
8:00am Saturday 19th January 2013 in Latest News
HEAVY snow wreaked havoc across the town yesterday causing gridlock on the roads, car accidents and train and bus cancellations.
The snowfall, which reached a foot in some places, led to a busy day for emergency services as they were inundated with calls and police even warned they were delayed in getting to incidents due to the congestion.
All Thamesdown Transport buses were suspended as chief executive Paul Jenkins said the roads had deteriorated to a point where it was unsafe to run services.
Council services, including household waste and recycling collections, were disrupted with rubbish collections being prioritised. But all collections in Highworth were been suspended because of the hills, which are impassable for collection trucks.
The M4 saw long delays between junction 16 and 17 after it was restricted to one lane due to heavy snow, while a car hit the central reservation shortly after 9am.
A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: “We ploughed the M4 to try to keep as many lanes open as possible.”
Meanwhile Thamesdown Drive at Mouldon Hill, Victoria Road and Salthrop Hill in Wroughton as many cars struggled to negotiate hills.
A police spokesman said: “We had around 30 transport or vehicle-related incidents reported in the north of Wiltshire between midnight and late-afternoon on Friday.
“Many of them are minor traffic collisions, reports of car being stuck or skidding. Thamesdown Drive saw a broken down vehicle causing traffic tailbacks.”
Motorist Des Morgan described the chaos on the roads, with drivers unable to scale the incline on Westfield Way, in Haydon Wick.
He said: “There wasn’t a hint of grit on the roads and people were abandoning their cars or parking in the side roads. It was unbelievable that such an important road was not gritted.
“Cars were trying to get up the incline but they could not make it - it was absurd.”
Richard Fisher, Streetsmart Service delivery manager, said: “Our gritting crews worked round the clock to treat the roads – they completed two 270-mile routes, covering all main and nearly half of the roads in the borough throughout Thursday night.
“On Friday morning they also completed a third trip for rural routes, where conditions were more treacherous.”
Great Western Ambulance Service say they are managing to get to patients despite the snow.
She said: “We're not seeing any sort of increase in demand for our services because of the weather.
“The thing that is holding us, and everyone else up, is the road conditions.
“It increased the length of time it takes us to get to patients but we are getting to them.”
And there was not much joy for those opting for the trains, as First Great Western services from Swindon to other parts of the London mainline were severely disrupted, with delays of up to half an hour.
Hundreds of holiday-makers were also left disappointed as flights were cancelled at Heathrow and Bristol and Cardiff airports shut entirely.