THE EDITOR’S CHAIR: Grit Gwent effort, but schools could do better in the snow
FROM red weather warnings to ‘snow bombs’ it’s been quite a few days for most people in Gwent.
The worst snowfall for a couple of years brought with it the usual round of school closures and transport problems.
There were understandable questions about why some schools closed because of the weather and others stayed open, particularly when in some cases they were less than a mile apart.
We issued a challenge in yesterday’s Argus for schools and councils to be a bit more open with parents about the reasons for closures.
When snow makes travelling almost impossible then most parents understand entirely why schools close.
But when roads and pavements are virtually clear – as they certainly were in Newport on Tuesday – people are left scratching their heads when schools close.
My youngest son’s secondary school was closed last Friday (perfectly understandable) and then closed again on Tuesday, when the weather was relatively good, but open on Wednesday after a full night of snow.
There seemed to be no logic behind the decisions and this leads to anger and consternation among parents.
Perhaps there should be an agreed set of potential reasons for school closures that are displayed in schools and on their websites, with the relevant reasons ticked when closures take place?
It might not end the debate but at least it would mean parents knew why their children’s school was closed.
The main road networks through Gwent fared particularly well during the adverse weather – and praise must go to our local authorities for the work their staff have done.
Council workers often get the sharp end of the stick when snow falls and roads become difficult to negotiate.
Most people understand that not every side street and cul-de-sac can be gritted, certainly not in the early stages of bad weather.
It is when major routes become impassable that concerns are raised.
Yet, from what I have seen and heard as Argus reporters and photographers have travelled across Gwent, the vast majority of main roads were passable even after the worst of the snow had fallen.
So I take my hat off to the drivers of gritters and snow ploughs, and to the many other council staff diverted from their usual duties to help keep Gwent moving.
Finally, this week’s weather has certainly highlighted the growing influence and importance of social media.
Our live weather blogs have been running from 6am every day since last Friday, with record numbers of people coming to the Argus website for snow-related news and information.
As well as details from our own reporters, the snow blog has also been populated by Twitter feeds from schools, councils, bus companies and readers – all using the #gwentsnow we publicised as soon as snow was forecast.
It has worked incredibly well and shows that websites and social media feeds, including our own, are fast becoming the first port of call for people when the weather turns bad.
It is a shame that government bodies and many emergency services still tell people to tune into BBC local radio stations, which play a part in the dissemination of such information, without referring to the larger number of digital outlets that people are turning to.