Page last updated at 10:33 GMT, Monday, 9 February 2009

'Snow panic' cost region millions

Snow near Okehampton.
Devon and Cornwall firms rely on the A30 for transporting goods

Snow "panicked" too many businesses and schools into closing, says a South West business leader.

The weather cost the region's small businesses £40m according to the Devon and Cornwall Business Council.

Council leader Tim Jones said better communication and less panicking could have reduced the cost by millions.

He said "too many" schools had closed in Devon and Cornwall where more than 300 schools gave pupils the day off on 3 February.

We have had too many schools closed down which has an adverse impact on people who rely on carers to look after children
Tim Jones, Devon and Cornwall Business Council

He told BBC News: "We have had too many businesses closed unnecessarily because people were panicked by the weather forecast.

"We have had too many schools closed down, which has an adverse impact on people who rely on carers to look after children.

"I think we have over-reacted quite significantly."

He said he had seen parents helping clear pavements outside one primary school.

"That's exactly the spirit we need," he said.

He reckoned that the counties could have reduced the loss by £5m to £6m with better communication such as email and text alerts.

"We need to be a lot smarter about the way we respond and communicate using technology and the internet.

"If we had done that we would have reduced the number of days lost and the number of schools closed."

A spokeswoman for Devon County Council education authority said it was up to head teachers whether to close their schools.

"Schools are closed for a variety of reasons, sometimes teachers cannot get in or there are burst pipes," she said.

Only two Devon schools remained closed on Monday - Hemyock Primary and Boasley Cross Primary.



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