Here’s a suggestion for anyone buying a 4×4. If you are prepared to spend £25,000 (or whatever) on such a fancy bit of kit, how about spending £25 or so on a tow rope?
Yesterday the weather was appalling across Kent, the southern and eastern part at least, with heavy snow, serious drifting in high winds and bone chilling temperatures. The media reports over the past 24 hours have shown a catalogue of mayhem. It is sometimes tempting to think the media exaggerates conditions but my own experience suggests that in this case they have not.
Outside my house near Ashford, the road – a minor but busy route on a sharp hill running past the village primary school – was throwing up difficulties by late afternoon. The real problems started as people began heading home from work.
One car became stuck close to the brow of the hill causing several which were following it – too closely? – to halt behind it, unable to regain the traction to get past and blocked in from behind thus preventing reversal back down the slope.
I lent my (limited) assistance and by pushing managed to get a couple of the smaller vehicles going. A Land Rover (I think it was) turned up to try and help the car at the top of the slope but without a tow rope. I hurried off to try and secure one from a neighbour but by the time I got back, the Land Rover driver had thought better of waiting and had gone, taking the driver of the stuck car with them, but leaving the vehicle itself. Therefore we had an abandoned car creating a real obstacle at the top of the hill (it would be another four hours or so until it was successfully moved).
As the evening progressed more cars, going both up and down hill, became stuck on what was now sheet ice.
By this morning, the ice remained, as did two cars which had been stationary on the hill overnight, and the local school had closed because the headmaster – rightly in my view – had determined that it was unsafe for children to be delivered by vehicle (as many are given the large catchment area).
During earlier cold snaps this winter I thought that Kent County Council (headline on the front page of the website alongside a picture of a gritter: ‘We’re prepeared- are you?’) dealt well with the conditions, pre-treating roads and then ploughing them as the snow fell. I could not say that was the case this time round, at least from where I was standing. I understand the wind caused particular problems, particularly on exposed coastal routes like the A20, and that there are priority routes to maintain, but surely access to a school (which is only half a mile from a major A road) is one of them?
At least we should be grateful of one thing. Once again the weather has given us something to talk about.