Britain Is Closed: Sorry For The Inconvenience

Screen Shot 2013-01-19 at 10.55.06Britain has been buried under a blanket of snow. Some places have been hit more than others, the north and west in particular suffering with the heaviest downfall. The problem is, Britain can’t deal with snow. It panics and decides to come to a grinding halt rather than trying to persevere and be brave.

Tuesday was a prime example of this. Norwich city centre was actually closed off to transport in the evening. Total gridlock. People had to abandon cars, people were  forced to walk along bypasses and main roads, lorries were jack knifing left, right and centre, people were falling over and breaking limbs. It was taking up to four hours or more to travel what should have taken 25 minutes. Hundreds of flights from all the major airports were cancelled, trains were delayed and schools were shut. The problem is, other countries around the world get it far worse each year and yet they carry on as normal, hardly bat an eyelid. So why is it that we struggle to prepare or deal with snow disruptions?

Unpredictable Weather

Britain has temperamental weather, that’s why we talk about it so often! It can be baking hot one day then torrential rain the next. On top of that, the weather reports are never right (Michael Fish, 1987 being firm proof of this). With weather patterns so hard to predict, councils and local authorities don’t alway prepare  and budget for snow days as they should. They don’t resource correct amounts of grit, workers or time to ensure the roads remain open and safe and that disruption kept minimal. If the roads are clear, school can stay open, people can get to and form work and life can carry on relatively normally. If the UK had more regular weather patterns and were similar each year, it wouldn’t be such a shock when it does snow and cities will be better prepared.

Cost

This is probably the biggest issue. It costs money to combat snow, money which our government likes to spend elsewhere so some councils find it hard to budget for snow. You have to pay for the grit, storage buildings for it, pay for the workers to spread it over hundreds of miles, gritting lorries. It’s a section of finances which are hugely overlooked when money is getting sent to other branches. Because we never know how much snow we will get from year to year or when, the government puts money for it on a back burner and so we in the public have to suffer.

Health And Safety Overload

As soon as there is a hint of snow, businesses and companies don’t want to be accountable for people getting hurt trying to get there or staff breaking legs walking in. Trains, airports and other public transport fear the idea of an accident and so cancel or delay departures just in case. Safety regulations means that nothing can proceed as usual in fear of being sued. Of course, if conditions are really bad, it’s the only option but this country buckles under leaves on the track, or a flurry of snow.

Screen Shot 2013-01-19 at 19.33.36

Anything For A Day Off

I can only imagine this to also be a factor. There can be just an inch of snow and people call work, “really sorry, can’t make it in today!”. Parents ring up the schools and tell them they can’t get the kids there. They then have the day off to play in the snow or having a lazy day doing whatever they please. We are disappointed if we don’t hear of work or school closures, we look to the skies and beg for more snow. Maybe we are just as much to blame than the unpreparedness of the state.

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