Page last updated at 14:32 GMT, Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Snow leaves Basingstoke littered with abandoned cars

By Greg Wood
BBC News

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Snow and ice forced many travellers to abandon their cars in Basingstoke

Basingstoke remains under a blanket of white, with the weak hazy sunshine making little impact on snow-covered streets still littered with hundreds of abandoned cars.

Some people were, however, venturing out to recover their vehicles.

Melissa Poulter works for the AA.

She abandoned her BMW on Monday night and was back on Tuesday trying to dig the car out of the snow with a shovel.

"I walked and took a bus to get back here this morning," she said.

"I'm hoping to drive home now."

Five minutes later, her car pulled gingerly away.

Duncan Read is an accountant who lives in Petersfield, 30 miles from Basingstoke.

"I couldn't get out of the car park last night," he told the BBC.

"I tried to leave but it was gridlocked. I gave up and took the train.

"It took me two hours to get home and another three hours to get back here this morning."

Terry Cooper, a taxi driver, lives in Tadley, eight miles north of Basingstoke.

"It took me an hour to get to the centre of town today. Normally it's a 10-minute journey," he said.

"The road I came in on - the A340 - had still not been gritted. I passed dozens of abandoned cars at the side of the road."

Hampshire Police have deployed more than 40 4x4 vehicles and borrowed more from the fire and rescue service to patrol the roads and keep a lookout for people in trouble.

They said they had been inundated with calls.

Emergency blankets

The St John Ambulance service has also been busy. At one point its volunteers had to rush blankets to around 100 people who were sheltering overnight in Basingstoke's Red Lion pub.

Police are asking people to collect their abandoned vehicles if they can do so safely.

However, their advice to those who do take to the roads is to take warm clothes and a means of getting themselves out of trouble.

By Tuesday afternoon, the picture in Basingstoke remained that of a town struggling to get back to normal.

Bus services are running normally again and there are no delays or cancellations on mainline trains.

But it is likely that many cars here will remain abandoned for another night, with freezing temperatures forecast.



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