THE EDITOR’S CHAIR: Grit Gwent effort, but schools could do better in the snow

South Wales Argus: HELPING HAND: Newport Council workmen turned out in the blizzards to use grit to help free a motorist on Gaer Road, Newport HELPING HAND: Newport Council workmen turned out in the blizzards to use grit to help free a motorist on Gaer Road, Newport

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.

Comments (5)

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1:09pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Mark Poulton says...

Kevin, schools are responsible for clearing their own site. The councils only clear public places and schools are not defined as public places. Some schools have the capacity to deal with it while others don't. The internal staff have to do it along with any support they can muster from parents. The alternative is to pay out of school funds for a contractor to do it for them.
Kevin, schools are responsible for clearing their own site. The councils only clear public places and schools are not defined as public places. Some schools have the capacity to deal with it while others don't. The internal staff have to do it along with any support they can muster from parents. The alternative is to pay out of school funds for a contractor to do it for them. Mark Poulton
  • Score: 0

1:25pm Thu 24 Jan 13

let em swing says...

Notoriously lazy teachers wont lift a shovel, its elf n safety they might put their backs out.
Notoriously lazy teachers wont lift a shovel, its elf n safety they might put their backs out. let em swing
  • Score: 0

1:46pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Bobevans says...

In England they are looking to remove the decision to close schools from the Heads and have the decision made by the local education authority. The decision will be made on a proper risk assessment

They will get inputs from the local highways authority., the Weather forecast and the local bus and rail companies and the school head will report on the conditions within the school grounds.
In England they are looking to remove the decision to close schools from the Heads and have the decision made by the local education authority. The decision will be made on a proper risk assessment They will get inputs from the local highways authority., the Weather forecast and the local bus and rail companies and the school head will report on the conditions within the school grounds. Bobevans
  • Score: 0

6:34pm Thu 24 Jan 13

gingertom says...

Pupils of newbridge were told due to the dangerous condition of the calzaghe bridge that was the reason the school was closed. This was on caerphilly website:
"School remains closed Thursday 24th while the site is fully cleared of snow and ice and made safe for staff and pupils. We aim to open Friday. Parents please note, the Calzaghe Bridge remains compacted with snow and ice and pupils will need to take extra care."
I know that councillor baker was out today in the village and she rang the relevant dept a number of times about the state of the roads and pavements.
She seems to be the only councillor who is ever visible in the village.
Perhaps the councillors on the board of governors at newbridge school have sorted this out ready for tomorrow.
Pupils of newbridge were told due to the dangerous condition of the calzaghe bridge that was the reason the school was closed. This was on caerphilly website: "School remains closed Thursday 24th while the site is fully cleared of snow and ice and made safe for staff and pupils. We aim to open Friday. Parents please note, the Calzaghe Bridge remains compacted with snow and ice and pupils will need to take extra care." I know that councillor baker was out today in the village and she rang the relevant dept a number of times about the state of the roads and pavements. She seems to be the only councillor who is ever visible in the village. Perhaps the councillors on the board of governors at newbridge school have sorted this out ready for tomorrow. gingertom
  • Score: 0

2:17pm Fri 25 Jan 13

Gw Ent says...

Gwent does not exist. It was a failed local government experiment. Born 1974 to universal hatred. Died 1996 - SIXTEEN YEARS AGO!
Gwent does not exist. It was a failed local government experiment. Born 1974 to universal hatred. Died 1996 - SIXTEEN YEARS AGO! Gw Ent
  • Score: 0

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