Asks BBC News – and the answer seems to be ‘yes and no’. On one hand, it does not take a great deal of snow for infrastructure to grind to a halt. On the other hand, in the recent cold spell there have been traffic jams in Belgium, lorry drivers trapped in their vehicles in France, and stranded rail commuters in Germany. The main reason for the UK’s lack of resilience in extreme winter conditions is the unpredictability of the weather in Britain. Some winters the south of the country has no snow at all. As the report says:
The most fundamental reason the UK is having problems is that preparedness costs money… Everything is a cost-benefit analysis. Every pound that is spent has to be weighed against the number of days of disruption and losses caused by cold weather.
The fact is, as the report concludes:
In the current financially straitened times it is hard to imagine any government pouring additional funding into massively increased preparedness for extreme cold.
In the meantime, the news is full of stories of people coping with the weather. One of the more bizarre little stories was also on the BBC News website, from Kent, one of the more badly affected parts of the country.
A woman who dialled 999 to report the theft of a snowman from outside her home has been branded “completely irresponsible” by Kent Police.
The force said the woman, from Chatham, thought the incident required their involvement because she used pound coins for eyes and teaspoons for arms.
During the call the woman said: “It ain’t a nice road but you don’t expect someone to nick your snowman.”
Kent Police said officers had given her advice on real 999 emergencies.
I bet they did.
STOP PRESS: Good news – Gatwick Airport has reopened!