So, how was the snow for you?

I was resigned to the snow disrupting things for another few days yet, so it’s a surprise to see it’s nearly all gone.

In fact, I was taken aback just how the picture changed by travelling a very short distance – much of Greenwich seemed to avoid the worst of the first fall of snow, while a whole mile up the hill, we in Charlton had a good couple of inches.

By the end of the week, I reckon we were wading through six inches in SE7 – but just a few miles away in Chislehurst, it was just short of a foot.

The snow remained a south/south-east London phenomenon – travelling into central London yesterday, it seemed to vanish as soon as the train crossed Tower Bridge Road; coming home late last night, it suddenly appeared travelling over Blackheath.

All of which factors can make it hard for big organisations to deal with the snow. I didn’t get out and about much, but Greenwich Council seemed to do a pretty good job – although I should point out I live in one of the few side roads which gets gritted. But there’s annoying idiosyncrasies which never seem to be fixed when it snows – the lack of gritting around Charlton station is one (which I know for a fact has been pointed out to the council) and the strange lack of grit on the steep railway bridge on Victoria Way, even though the roads (and, unusually, a pavement) had been gritted on both sides.

And that’s the problem – the attitude feels very “we know what’s good for you” and requests to get certain bits done feel like they’ll hit a brick wall. It’s not just Greenwich – it seems to be a more general issue with local government whenever snow falls.

In the Southeastern post earlier, I mentioned this piece about how train companies could benefit from a more collaborative approach to passengers when there’s disruption. Perhaps councils could do the same – openly asking for suggestions of what should be gritted, and publishing them. The tools are there – heavens, Greenwich now has its own Facebook page.

(If you’re really interested, this is Greenwich Council’s internal report on how it did during January’s snow, and here’s the background given to local councillors. And its “winter service plan“.)

Of course it’s tough and resources are stretched, but often local residents will know better than a council manager based in a distant depot. Maybe even dishing out the odd bag of grit would enable people to pitch in with a DIY solution. While I think Greenwich does a good job (certainly better than the ice rinks of Bexley, from what I’ve heard), a few imaginative solutions could make it a great job.

One comment

  1. Does the railway bridge on Victoria Way remain ungritted because it’s so close to the width restriction? Not sure that gritting lorries are less than 7 foot wide …

    I have to admit to a degree of smugness because of cycling: ended up walking a little bit of Victoria Way because I chickened out the second time my rear wheel skidded, but for most of last week my commute was a bit slower and a bit colder than normal, while others down the Greenwich line or in Sidcup ‘worked from home’ to a degree of unstated resentment from managers.

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