THERE was a big increase in email traffic on Wales's broadband network during the winter freeze when people carried on working from home, Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said today.

He said roads were kept open thanks to the relationship between councils and the Assembly Government when swathes of the country were under a thick blanket of snow.

Answering AMs' questions in the Senedd, the Plaid leader said it was too early to say what the effect would be on the economy.

Previous periods of heavy snow, such as in 1963, only had a small impact on output, he said.

He defended the response of the Assembly Government which is responsible for the M48 and M4 motorways and which oversaw the supply of gritting salt to crisis-hit councils.

Officials were examining if the work could be done more efficiently in a repeat of the severe weather.

Businesses and essential services, including hospitals and schools, would be included in talks to avoid disruption in the future.

"It's impossible to give a dependable estimate of the impact (on the economy) of the recent inclement weather,’’ Mr Jones said.

"Evidence from similar periods of inclement weather suggests that the net effect on GDP will be minimal.’’ He added: "One of the consequences of the bad weather was that lots of people were actually working from home and apparently the email traffic on the broadband network in Wales shot up during the period, which does show that even in periods of bad weather people are increasingly looking for opportunities to work from home.’’ Ministers secured emergency deliveries of salt to keep roads open as council highways depots came close to running out earlier this month.

Mr Jones said: "I reject the implication that there was a lack of co-ordination between the Welsh Assembly Government and local authorities. In fact it worked extremely well.