People stranded after snowdrifts

Snow at Chapel Lane, Wheelton.
Snow at Chapel Lane, Wheelton.

CALLS for a severe weather planning review have been made after residents were left stranded in their homes by heavy snow drifts in Chorley.

Blizzard conditions struck on Friday and up to several inches of snow fell throughout the day and night.

Chorley was one of the worst hit areas of central Lancashire – with drifting causing snow to pile up by several feet in places.

And people in rural and remote areas were cut off in places.

Malcolm Allen was trapped when snow huge drifts blocked parts of Chapel Lane, Heapey, where he lives with his disabled daughter Alice, 23.

Around 15 homes were affected there.

Mr Allen, who owns Malcolm’s Musicland, on Chapel Street, in Chorley town centre, said: “Going home on Friday night, I could see as I was going up it was drifting a bit but there was room to get my car in.

“By Saturday morning, it was impassable.”

The Heapey parish councillor continued: “The Lancashire County Council emergency number works office hours only, but unfortunately snow doesn’t fall just in office hours.”

Mr Allen continued to make some telephone calls in an effort to get help to the area.

It was Sunday afternoon before the road was cleared.

“We need to have a new look at the strategy now, what happens in the parishes regarding this.

“It wasn’t scary, but if something had happened to my daughter I wouldn’t have been able to get out. I need a vehicle to transport my daughter. She’s very bad on her feet at the best of times.”

He said there were emergency numbers for utility suppliers such as gas, electricity and water, adding: “What I’m suggesting now as a parish councillor is that Lancashire County Council knows when there’s going to be bad weather they are going to be rushed off their feet.

“What we should have is a 
24-hour manned number that parish councillors and councillors, who are on the ground, can phone and report incidents like that.”

Mr Allen thanked neighbours who helped dig through the snow and clear a pathway.

He said a snow plough arrived at about 3.15pm on Sunday.

Further up the road towards White Coppice, a length of road about a hundred yards long, was completely blocked with snow up to six feet deep in places.

For Mr Allen, who has lived on Chapel Lane for between 30 and 40 years, said it was the first time in about 30 years he had not been able to get into his town centre shop to open up as a result of the weather.

Motorist Richard Whyte, 25, returned to dig his car out of snow on Blackburn Road, Great Knowley, on Saturday,

It had skidded the night before and got stuck in heavy snow.

“I just spun and was facing the other way,” said the account manager for Tagtronics, Darwen.

“I had gone into some quite deep snow and at one point as I skidded, someone had already gone into a lamp-post.”

Meanwhile, there were major problems for several hours when a lorry jackknifed on the M61 southbound on Saturday between junction eight at Chorley and junction six at Horwich.

Chorley FC’s match against Eastwood Town was called off as the pitch had been hit by up to three feet of snow.

Lancashire County Council said East Lancashire was badly affected, but that the south of the county was also faced with huge drifts up to around 5m not only affecting the remote areas but also some A and B roads, such as the A570, a main arterial route to the M58.

All 16 gritters were fitted with snow ploughs and were deployed since Friday in an effort to keep the routes clear. Five agricultural contractors were also called in to help remove snow drifts, with loadalls, JCBs and snow blowers. Work continued on Monday with efforts concentrated on more remote locations to ensure people are able to keep moving.

Lancashire County Council has a fleet of 49 frontline gritters which can treat the 1,500 miles of the county council’s priority road network within around four hours, but may take longer in severe conditions. The county council has also a number of agricultural contractors who clear more remote rural roads in the event of heavy snow.

People can find information and advice on winter weather, including real-time gritting updates on Lancashire County Council’s website.

It has links to short and longer range weather forecasts and the council’s Twitter and Facebook feeds.