DRIVERS across East Lancashire expressed their anger as one inch of snow once again caused massive disruption to the region’s roads.
Town centres ground to a halt and the M65 and major link roads were left paralysed by yesterday morning’s snow.
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The hazardous conditions forced the emergency services to deal with dozens of collisions and made some routes inpassable.
One man suffered serious head injuries after his car left a slip road and landed on its roof in a nearby field at junction six off the M65 at Whitebirk.
Council bosses have been criticised over their response which saw gritters caught in the long traffic jams as they attempted to complete a second round of gritting.
In an echo of previous years they were reacting to a relatively small amount of snow at rush hour which caused chaos.
Cllr Tony Haworth, whose ward in Helmshore covers part of the Grane Road between Haslingden and Blackburn, said: “I can’t believe that this has been allowed to happen again.
“Every year the roads around here become inpassable and drivers have a very hard time dealing with it.
“People forget how to drive in the snow but places like the Grane Road do become very hard to drive on.”
Despite Blackburn with Darwen Council sending out their army of grit trucks between 2am and 4am roads in and around the borough were likened to ‘car parks’ by commuters.
The Grane Road was described as an ‘ice rink’ after several vehicles skidded off the road.
A HGV ended up stuck in the road outside Haslingden High School while a driver escaped without injury after his white BMW veered out of control on the A56 at Huncoat, heading towards Accrington.
A driver also escaped injury after his car flipped over in Roman Road, Darwen, at around 9.40am.
The incident involving a Ford Fiesta blocked the road and it wasn’t reopened until around 10.50am.
Another driver walked away from the wreckage of his Nissan Micra uninjured after it collided with a wall at around 8.45am in Haslingden Old Road just outside of Blackburn.
The man, whose Subaru car flipped at the junction six slip road off the M65, was taken to the Royal Preston Hospital by land ambulance despite the air ambulance being called to the scene.
Police last night said he was in hospital.
Cllr Haworth said council bosses could have kept ‘disruption to a minimum’ if the gritters had been out earlier for a second round of grit spreading.
However, that claim has been refuted by Blackburn with Darwen Council’s regeneration boss, Cllr Phil Riley, who said: “There was a full grit which was done between 2am and 4am and when the day shift came in they started another grit at 7am.
“By then the snow had started at 8am and the gritters were stuck in traffic.
“There was not very much we could do to avoid that really. If early snow falls during the morning traffic it is just the worst time.”
Cllr Jim Smith, the council’s executive member for environment, said the congestion was also caused by the junction six slip road to the M65 closure which diverted traffic into the town.
Cllr Suleman Khonat said: “I had several phone calls from various residents in Shear Brow, which is a very hilly area.
“There were two trucks stuck and I had to go and help them out. Certainly in my ward we had a number of vehicles in trouble.”
The adverse weather forced St Mary’s RC Primary School in Oswaldtwistle to close because of a lack of water, electricity and heating.
A spokesman for Accrington Green Haworth CE Primary School said that Willows Lane was ‘inaccessible’ and that most parents abandoned their cars a ‘great distance’ from the school.
Because of the road being blocked school dinners couldn’t be delivered.
Frustrated drivers took to social media yesterday morning to express their anger at the conditions.
Writing on Twitter Amy McWhirter said: “Hate snow. Big well done to Blackburn Council for gritting!! Not!!”
The snow also affected Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale with major roads seeing long traffic queues throughout the morning.
Cllr Mark Townsend, who leads Burnley Council, said: “Gritting is a very difficult job.
“However I would hope that Lancashire County Council keep it under review so that any future disruption is minimised.
Kimberley Hall, 32, from Brunshaw Road, Burnley said the hill outside her home was ‘treacherous’ and almost impassable at 9.30am.
She said: “Several people have abandoned their cars and at the steepest point of the hill I saw at least one near miss where a car travelling downhill lost control and just managed to avoid hitting a parked car.”
Lancashire Telegraph weather expert, Roy Chetham, who has a weather station in Huncoat, said: “It was forecast that we were going to get some snow overnight and in the morning and continuing for part of the day.
“We had about two centimetres of snow fall at Huncoat on Wednesday in two hours.”
A spokesman for Lancashire County Council, said: “Our gritting crews were working hard on Tuesday night and throughout Wednesday morning to keep traffic moving. We treated all the main routes in East Lancashire at 9pm and again at 2am to make sure the snow and ice would not stick to the road, and would melt as quickly as possible, once it arrived.
“The main band of snow arrived as forecast at around 6am, and deposited around 3inches of snow very quickly, which meant we had to plough it off before treating again with salt. The time the snow arrived, and the intensity of the weather front, meant the roads were not clear first thing in the morning, however we had done all we could to ensure it was cleared as quickly as possible.
“Roads may not be free of ice even though they’ve been gritted as we rely on the action of traffic to mix the salt with the ice. It’s important that people leave extra time for their journeys, take care, and drive according to the conditions.”