Monday, January 04, 2010

Dancing on ice

The longest continuous cold spell I can remember goes on, with the temperature forecast to fall to -7C tonight (it reached -8.4C last night) and it is not predicted to rise above freezing all week. Getting about is a nightmare as councils are running out of grit to treat even major roads. Minor roads and pavements of course have never been treated and are now like skating rinks.

This is what you get when you have a country run by accountants who fail to understand that when emergencies occur - whether it is the recent floods or a long spell of cold weather - you just have to find the money to deal with it. It is ridiculous expecting people to put up with chaos because there isn't money in the budget. When the banks were on the verge of collapse the government broke its own budgetary rules and spent billions of our money trying to save them. But when funds are needed for emergencies closer to home the rules can't be bent and we can't have them.

Many schools have been closed for the first day of term because health and safety rules and the litigation culture mean that councils are frightened if children slip and injure themselves on school premises they will face claims for damages. Meanwhile accident and emergency departments are overwhelmed with injuries due to people slipping over on untreated pavements. If we had a government capable of joined-up thought perhaps they would realise that giving councils the resources to treat all roads and pavements might actually save money?

We have not taken the car out since the snow fell before Christmas, as I am nervous of driving on ice after losing control of the car on ice one day a couple of years ago. But we are very glad we made the decision a couple of years ago to buy us each a pair of Yaktrak Walkers before we spent Christmas in Prague which we expected to be covered in snow (it wasn't). They are like snow chains for shoes and cost about £12 depending on shoe size. We never used them in Prague but we use them every day now and people look on with disbelief as we stride confidently past while they shuffle along carefully trying not to slip over.
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