Page last updated at 15:58 GMT, Thursday, 7 January 2010

Big freeze tightens its grip on England


Falling temperatures and heavy snowfall have caused disruption

Thousands of England's schools remain closed after temperatures dropped as low as -18C overnight, causing treacherous icy conditions.

The main airports are open, but some airlines have cancelled flights following days of heavy snowfall.

Forecasters warned of dangerous travel conditions across most of the country as heavy snowfall swept through the east of England.

Up to 20,000 people have been affected by power cuts in Hampshire.

Some 3,000 people are still without power after a cable fell on the A3 near Clanfield.

Up to 5,000 homes in Sussex, Kent and Surrey were without electricity overnight after heavy snowfall affected power lines.

The BBC Weather Centre said the village of Benson in Oxfordshire had recorded the lowest temperatures overnight, at -18C (0.4F).

Resident Amanda Strickland-Taylor, a classroom assistant, said: "For some reason, we always seem to be the coldest place.

Drivers on the A20 near Lenham in Kent

"It's like we've got our own microclimate here.

"You could feel the change in temperature last night though.

"We keep horses nearby in Ewelme, and when we walked back at about 4pm you could actually feel the temperature drop."

A 16-year-old boy was killed and his mother seriously injured when they were hit by a lorry as they got out of their car following an accident on the A1 in North Yorkshire.

The county's fire authority said the car appeared to have gone out of control in the wintry conditions and hit the central reservation.

The Warwickshire village of Preston-on-Stour has been almost completely cut off during the past few days. Nina Harding, who runs a shop in the village, said: "We didn't have any milk or bread or coal, so we've had people going out, obviously in 4x4s, and collecting bread and milk for everybody."

Many airlines continued to report cancellations and delays to services after the snow badly affected air travel, with several airports closing for periods on Wednesday.

Budget airline easyJet cancelled about 70 flights in and out of Gatwick Airport while British Airways scrapped a number of flights with more delayed due to icy conditions at both Heathrow and Gatwick.

At Gatwick Airport there were 136 cancellations and only two planes an hour arriving.

Thousands of schools across the country remained closed.

Rescuers help snowed-in motorists

Salford City Council said all of its schools were shutting their doors again and St Helens Council on Merseyside said only one school was opening.

All schools in South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset were closed.

There are school closures in most other areas of the country.

Cornwall's farmers are throwing away thousands of gallons of milk because lorries cannot make it down iced-up minor roads.

The Organic Milk Suppliers Co-operative in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, said it may have to dump 100,000 litres of organic milk because tankers were unable to get through due to the snow.

Many councils have warned that their stocks of grit are running low, with Scarborough Borough Council in North Yorkshire revealing it was using sand from the resort's beach to grit pavements in the town.

Essex County Council are having to prioritise some main routes because they're running out of salt.

One of the UK's biggest suppliers of rock salt, Cleveland Potash, said it was struggling to meet the demand for supplies.

It has asked the Department of Transport to draw up a list of customers to supply first.

A train travels through the snow in Ashford in Kent

A spokesman for the company, which mines at Boulby, near Saltburn by the Sea, said: "We ensured that all of the agencies and councils that we are contracted to supply had all the gritting salt that they requested to be in place at the start of the winter period.

"As these salt stocks have become depleted far more rapidly than anyone could have predicted, we are now working closely with our customers to ensure that additional supplies of salt are made available."

More of the country's major roads were passable, but forecasters warned drivers of dangerous icy conditions on untreated routes.

Eurostar services were suspended at 0830 GMT after a Eurostar train travelling from Brussels to London's Kings Cross station was delayed for an hour inside a tunnel.

The delay was due to "traction problems", a Eurotunnel spokesman said.

Southern Trains warned of "severe disruption" and Southeastern was running a revised timetable.

First Great Western was operating a reduced timetable across some of its network due to the weather.


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