Grit could be diverted elsewhere

A warning has been issued that the amount of salt used on Norfolk's roads could be restricted after the government ordered supplies to be diverted to parts of the country which need it the most.

A warning has been issued that the amount of salt used on Norfolk's roads could be restricted after the government ordered supplies to be diverted to parts of the country which need it the most.

The news comes just as forecasters predict that more snow is on its way.

Disruption was caused once again across the county as more snow fell.

More than 350 schools were closed for the second day running, bin collections were cancelled, bus and train services were delayed and drivers struggled with the conditions.

Meanwhile, shops were struggling to keep up with the demand for sledges while some market traders saw fewer customers.

It is expected there will be more snow showers over the weekend with temperatures staying around zero.

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And as the county continues to struggle with the wintry blast, the government has stepped in and re-allocated Norfolk-bound salt supplies to other parts of the UK.

Council officials will now review the way in which Norfolk's 1,900 miles of road are gritted.

Adrian Gunson, cabinet member for planning and transportation, said: “Norfolk has so far continued to receive more reliable deliveries and has higher stocks of salt than many other parts of the country.

“That has meant that our crews have continued to salt our roads night and day since the cold snap began before Christmas. The government has now intervened at a national level to help councils whose position on salt stocks is not as healthy as our own. While this is clearly frustrating, I think we have to recognise this is an unprecedented situation and that other parts of the country are in a much worse situation than our own.

“We are watching matters closely, but if this bad weather continues we will soon need to reduce the mileage of the roads we salt. I regret this, but the situation is totally out of our hands.”

Norfolk County Council, which has a private finance initiative with Salt Union, has so far spent more than �1.2m on gritting the county's roads.

The gritting teams were out from 8am on Friday and, earlier this week, 1,600 tonnes of salt were shipped into King's Lynn while lorry loads were also delivered to Norfolk. Suffolk County Council has already had to limit its gritting to major routes.

Yesterday, there was a flurry of snow in Norwich at about 9am which swept across the county and a further snowfall in the afternoon.

John Law, from Weatherquest, based at the University of East Anglia, said: “There will be bright spells first thing on Saturday, but it will get increasingly windy with a moderate to fresh north easterly wind.

“Temperatures will stay close to freezing in most parts of Norfolk and there will be snow showers through the day, mainly along the coast and in the east. Looking at Saturday through to Sunday, there will be longer spells of snow.”

A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service said there were 193 reported falls across the eastern region on Thursday and Friday, with 98 people taken to hospital, which is higher than average.

The RAC, the Norwich-based car breakdown recovery firm, has also been busy with 5,000 call outs by midday yesterday.

Refuse collections have been disrupted with North Norfolk District and Norwich City councils cancelling deliveries. West Norfolk Council and South Norfolk Council bin collections resumed yesterday after being suspended on Thursday because of the weather.

Train and bus companies ran limited services yesterday and, although flights were delayed first thing in the morning, flights from and to Norwich International Airport continued.

Meanwhile, families have been snapping up sledges while thousands of youngsters enjoy the extra time off school. Kerrison Toys, in Aylsham Road, Norwich, has sold more than 1,000 sledges this winter. Its last delivery, of 400 sledges, sold out in little over a day.

Sales of socks, hats and gloves have also been strong. Norfolk-based firm SealSkinz, which has a factory in King's Lynn and is the manufacturer of waterproof socks, hats and gloves, has seen its sales rocket by 50pc in the first week of January.

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