Page last updated at 11:55 GMT, Wednesday, 4 February 2009
UK prepares for freezing weekend



Children playing in the snow
Children have been making the most of the time off school

Several thousand children have had another day off school as parts of the UK continue to battle against snow.

Most of the 6,000 schools that shut down on Tuesday have reopened their doors following criticism of the scale of the closures.

But about 190 in Wales and 71 in Surrey remain closed, while smaller numbers in areas including Cornwall, Wiltshire and the West Midlands are also shut.

The Met Office has warned of ice and snow in many parts of the UK.

Meanwhile, a 16-year-old girl has died after a sledging accident near Sheffield.

Francesca Anobile, of Mosborough, Sheffield, was among four girls hurt at Rother Valley Country Park on Tuesday afternoon.

They had been using an improvised metal sledge which is understood to have gone through a barbed wire fence.

A South Yorkshire spokesman said: "Police would like to highlight the importance of personal safety during this period of adverse weather and advise everyone to take extra care when playing out in the snow and ice."

Care driving

Wednesday's forecast is for possible heavy snow in Grampian and the Highlands, with widespread icy conditions in others parts of Scotland, Wales and south-west England.

More heavy snow is forecast for Wednesday night, particularly affecting Wales, south-west England, the Midlands and East Anglia.

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Snow could continue into Thursday and Friday, but there is still uncertainty about how much will fall and where.

The Highways Agency is continuing to advise drivers to take extreme care and not to travel in the worst affected areas unless it is essential.

Wiltshire County Council warned that it may only salt its main roads as stocks were running low.

The authority said it had used 7,500 tonnes so far, which it was supplementing with grit.

Parents were advised to call their child's school, or their local authority, to check if there are plans for closures on Wednesday.

On Wednesday 19 schools closed in Wiltshire, 14 in Cornwall, three in Worcestershire, and 12 schools and colleges closed in the West Midlands.

Only two shut in Leicestershire and Rutland, where 350 closed on Tuesday.

Margaret Morrissey, a former Ofsted inspector who runs the campaign Parents Outloud, said the closures sent the wrong signals to children "that when things get difficult, you should just stay at home and have fun".

Schools Secretary Ed Balls said he understood working parents' frustration but believed many would have welcomed an early decision on closures.

Some cancellations

Elsewhere, many transport services are expected to return to near-normal levels on Wednesday after a second day of widespread disruption.

The Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) said all operators should be running a normal, full-time service by Wednesday.

Trains on snowy tracks in Hampshire
Most rail services were expected to return to normal on Wednesday

Southern Railway and Southeastern, which were both badly affected by the weather, said they were attempting to run a full timetable.

First Great Western trains are also not running between London Paddington and Greenford, and some other services are altered or cancelled.

Most bus routes in London are now operating as normal, although a few routes are still curtailed because of icy roads.

A Transport for London spokeswoman said gritters had been out overnight in a bid to keep the city's major roads moving and a "good service" was expected for the "vast majority" of the Underground.

Three MPs have tabled a Commons motion accusing London Mayor Boris Johnson of "shamefully" allowing the city to "shut down so easily" after buses were taken off the roads on Monday.

Tuesday also saw further disruption at many airports in south-east England and Scotland, but a spokeswoman for operator BAA said it expected to run a "full or near-full schedule" on Wednesday.

At 0600 GMT, the BAA website said there would be "a small number of cancellations" at Gatwick and every effort was being made at Heathrow to minimise further disruption.

Some flights could also be delayed or cancelled at Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Southampton airports, and passengers were advised to contact their airline.



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