10:40am Tuesday 22nd January 2013
EMERGENCY responders and community volunteers were kept busy over the weekend as snow and ice caused trouble across Gwent.
Gwent 4x4 Response, made up of trained volunteers who own all-terrain vehicles, were out early on Friday morning, helping district nurses to attend appointments, responding to calls which the Welsh Ambulance Service could not access, lending vehicles to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, and transporting staff to and from work at Llanhenoch Lodge care home, near Caerleon, between 7am and 10pm.
Most drivers were dispatched to help out in Ebbw Vale, one of the worst-affected areas, but were also sent to badly affected areas of Caerphilly and Torfaen.
Chris Williams, who started the Gwent group three years ago as an off-shoot of a large South Wales unit, told the Argus: “With this snowfall we had pretty good advance warning and we managed to fulfil around 50 requests, some lasting 12 hours.”
In a statement the Welsh Ambulance Service confirmed that Aneurin Bevan Health Board, along with Cardiff and the Vale, and Cwm Taf health boards, received more than 200 emergency calls over the weekend.
Christina Harrhy, Torfaen’s chief officer of Neighbourhood Services, said the council has been operating its snowresponse 24 hours a day since last Wednesday.
As well as eight gritting staff, 200 men are redeployed from other roles on snow duties.
Workers from highways and refuse collectors are among those who will be sent out to deal with the situation in the county borough.
As well as gritting main roads, staff are working to clear snow from pavements, shopping areas and side streets.
The council operates a hierarchy in how it clears snow, said Ms Harrhy. “We have to make sure that all of our main roads are clear – that’s what the gritters do.
“Only when we are happy that those areas are safe do we deploy resources to side streets and footpaths.”
Torfaen officers are expecting further snow today, with very low temperatures – and it is likely the council’s emergency response will continue into the week.
Tony Allen, 50 and dad of three, is a Torfaen highways operative.
He told the Argus he worked from 3am on Friday until 4pm, using a plough to move snow and spreading grit.
Since then he has been working over the weekend, gritting side streets.
“It can be tough work and it’s long hours,” he said.
“A lot of the public are good but some make the job quite hard. When they park at the side of main roads it makes our job harder,” he added.
Monmouthshire Council has used 800 tonnes of road salt since early Friday morning, after gritting 300 miles of road on “scheduled gritting routes”.
It was expecting a delivery yesterday that would bring its stocks up to 7,900 tonnes.
In Torfaen the council has used 700 tonnes of 6,000 tonnes over the same period.
A spokesman said the authority has enough to last about 20 days of constant gritting for very severe weather.
Refuse collections in the county have been postponed until Thursday.
Caerphilly County Borough Council has covered a distance in excess of 5,000 miles since Friday morning The county’s gritting team has spread 1,400 tonnes of salt worth £90,000 and still has 5,500 tonnes in storage.
Staff from the authority’s highways service have been working to clear roads at schools, GP surgeries, business parks and town centres.
Refuse and recycling vehicles in the borough will collect as normal where it is safe to do so.
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