The councillor with responsibility for Norfolk’s response to snow and ice on roads has received personal calls for him to resign, he revealed this morning.

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Graham Plant, the cabinet member for planning and transportation at Norfolk County Council, told a meeting at County Hall that he had taken telephone calls at his home saying he should quit his post over the authority’s handling of the snowfall.

But he paid tribute to the gritting crews, which he said had been going out continuously since Sunday.

He said: “The snowstorm, widely described as a whiteout, was far heavier than anything forecast. This fell so quickly it covered the grit already on the highway and was quickly compacted by the traffic.

“The congestion which quickly developed due to the poor driving conditions meant that the gritters already out on the roads became stuck in traffic.

“On top of that, parts of the A47 were closed for long stretches and traffic which would normally be on the Southern bypass was diverted onto the city road network.

“We understand people’s frustration and have every sympathy with those who were inconvenienced.

“But, under the circumstances, we do not see what more could have been done to improve the situation in what were exceptional circumstances.”

Mr Plant added: “I would like to pay tribute to the staff who are hard at work on our fleet of gritters who have put in a tremendous effort to keep Norfolk’s roads moving in what have been very difficult circumstances. They really are unsung heroes who deserve our praise and respect.

“I can report that one of our gritters came off the road neart Griston at 3am this morning. The driver was uninjured and another vehicle completed the run.

“It is pertinent to note the time this incident occurred and is a lesson to those who say they haven’t seen a gritter out and about – a lot of the work is done while we are all asleep.”

The snowfall was being discussed at a meeting of Norfolk County Council’s environment, transport and development overview and scrutiny panel.

Bert Bremner, Labour councillor for University ward, said he was not critical of the council’s response to the snowfall, but added: “I think it would be valuable to have a look at it, because it haas happened twice in Norwich in recent years and there may be some ways in which we can look at other solutions.”

Mike Jackson, director of planning and transportation at County Hall, added that, as in previous years, there would be a review of how the authority handled the issue, although he did not see what could have been done differently.

He added: “We do review what happens every year and we will do that again. If there are lessons to learn we will learn them but I genuinely don’t see what we could have done differently.

“I would like to thank members for the support of the gritting teams. It’s a very difficult job and very demanding both physically and mentally and I know the guys who do it get a bit frustrated by complaints from people who say they do not see them.

“They have been out constantly since Sunday and they are out there every time they are needed.”

He also reiterated that the A47 and the A11 fall under the responsibility of the Highways Agency and not the county council.

48 comments

  • Yesterday took me an age to get home as i'm sure was the same for others but i'm not on here to moan about that, but what i would say if the NDR was built there would have been less traffic going from south to North...(me included). We MUST get this road built it would clearly have helped

    Report this comment

    Petree

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • Andy T thinks Plantlife is not responsible for the snow. And there his thought process stops. Of course he is not responsible for the snow and neither is any of us. But he is the one person responsible for the way the snow was dealt with. Cant you work that one out? And he was found seriously wanting in that department and I am not sure why he is still there. Serious mistakes were made and they weren't made by me or any other member of the public they were made by the Councillor who is supposed to be "in charge".

    Report this comment

    Electra

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • Well it is quite Simple, Stop using the Salt n Sand mix and use Pure Rock Salt so that the Snow and Ice actually Melts. This Way be less problems on the Roads...

    Report this comment

    CanarySid

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • Perhaps if everyone didn't panic and leave work early the gritters would have a chance to do their job. How many of these people saying it took hours to get home left off early? As it was my wife left at her normal time and it took 4 14 hours to get home, a distance of 15 miles. Stop critcising the council and start taking responsibility foryourown actions.

    Report this comment

    Drayton Resident

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • I was just thinking.....why don't the gritting people talk to the education people? Some schools were closed Tuesday morning BEFORE there was any word or sign of the really bad weather, so obviously the schools must know in advance how bad it might be so I suggest that the gritters get out the moment any school says its going to close for the day!

    Report this comment

    Carol Barnes

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • Cllr. Plant offered his resignation over the survey fiasco, live on radio Norfolk, as long as people wanted him to resign and many did, it never happened. I want him to resign, regardless, as I believe his loyalties are to his party and his Freemason brothers, not Norfolk taxpayers.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • Yes, let's pay tribute to the hard-working staff, that's a common ploy for deflecting criticism. No doubt the gritting team is seriously under-staffed and under-resourced from the way they are forced to fly around. Who has put us in this situation in the first place? Plant, Jackson, the member for efficiency (Jordan)? Its not as if there aren't recent historical precedents (like every winter for the past 4 years) that should have assisted with their planning for the current conditions. Are they too busy fantasising about 'commercial opportunities' to get basic services right?

    Report this comment

    Police Commissioner ???

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • Lets be clear about a couple of things here. What occurred at lunchtime yesterday was neither a "white out" or a "blizzard". It was snowfall amounting to no more than a couple of inches. However, it has managed to plunge most of North Norfolk into "chaos". I moved here from Scotland 4 years ago and have seen 3 winters where there have been, at least for here, significant snowfall (significant is a relative term). So...my question...where is the investment and management planning required to deal with the issue? This was not a surprise fall, we all knew it was going to happen...both in terms of the day and also in terms of the season. A lot of the blame should be directed at Mr Plant, but some should be directed at the poor standard of driving in hazardous conditions.

    Report this comment

    Col

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • Perhaps if everyone didn't panic and leave work early the gritters would have a chance to do their job. How many of these people saying it took hours to get home left off early? As it was my wife left at her normal time and it took 4 14 hours to get home, a distance of 15 miles. Stop critcising the council and start taking responsibility foryourown actions.

    Report this comment

    Drayton Resident

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • surely if a gritter had a plough on the front it would clear the mound of slush in the middle of the roads so that when it did thaw it wouldnt cause another layer of ice on top of whats there already ???

    Report this comment

    i am mostly wrong??

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • As always there are those who find it easier to be the critic than the artist and exhibit their blind prejudices. I will lay a years salary that none of you really have any significant idea os what is involved and would be more than hopeless in the job. And you are outweighed by the sensible observations made on here.

    Report this comment

    midupper

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

  • The worst problems were in Norwich City centre, what could have been done was police stationed at junctions and roundabouts to direct traffic and stop people blocking them and manual salting of the worst ice black-spots. That's if manpower was available.

    Report this comment

    Cyril the Canary

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • Excellent points @m347marcsmith. If people sudeenly arr rush out onto the roads, then they are going to compact the snow and turn it into ice. The gritting crews had been out on Monday night, as the roads were OK on Tue morning, but as you point out, it was the amount of snow falling in such a short space of time that was the real culprit for the gridlock. The answer - companies don't allow staff to go home as soon as snow starts falling, so that the gritters can go out and complete their rounds and then everyone will get home more quickly if they leave at normal time.

    Report this comment

    Mr Ed

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • Lets be clear about a couple of things here. What occurred at lunchtime yesterday was neither a "white out" or a "blizzard". It was snowfall amounting to no more than a couple of inches. However, it has managed to plunge most of North Norfolk into "chaos". I moved here from Scotland 4 years ago and have seen 3 winters where there have been, at least for here, significant snowfall (significant is a relative term). So...my question...where is the investment and management planning required to deal with the issue? This was not a surprise fall, we all knew it was going to happen...both in terms of the day and also in terms of the season. A lot of the blame should be directed at Mr Plant, but some should be directed at the poor standard of driving in hazardous conditions.

    Report this comment

    Col

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • I remember 10 years ago the same thing happened. Authorities knew that the snow was coming this time and did little or nothing. As stated last time the weakness was at every hill in Norwich. Grit & shovels should have been deployed at Grapes hill, Rose lane etc etc. With spirited help from the public we often see in these situations we could dug our selves out! There is to much reliance on over-night gritting which is great of course of it snows then. Seems there was nothing learned from the last time this happened!

    Report this comment

    kevin spilling

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • The NCC talk about carrying out a review about what went wrong however the outcome of such reviews are never made public. Equally not knowing what else they could do does not wash. If we are able to track hurricanes why not snow ? In addition one does wonder about the co-operation or lack of between NCC and the Highways Agency. The one good point was the quality of information coming from BBC Radio Norfolk from late afternoon onwards-invaluable so thanks from somebody who spent seven hours 20 minutes to travel just seventeen miles.

    Report this comment

    Sweeney

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • To be honest I don't think how things happened yesterday there was much that could have been done. Unless we spend millions on the sort of machinery used abroad in countries that experience this sort of weather regularly we will have to accept this situation occassionally. You can't grit roads when they are blocked with cars. It all happened rather quickly for the council to react.

    Report this comment

    Chilly62

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • The problem is partly the speed and weight of snow that fell. You cannot have a gritting lorry on every road at the same time just as the snow starts falling. So the lorries get stuck in the traffic. It is also partly due to people not being used to driving in snow and not knowing the technique required. Then the chap in front of you stops and this stops you and neither of you can then get started again.

    Report this comment

    Francis

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • Lets be clear about a couple of things here. What occurred at lunchtime yesterday was neither a "white out" or a "blizzard". It was snowfall amounting to no more than a couple of inches. However, it has managed to plunge most of North Norfolk into "chaos". I moved here from Scotland 4 years ago and have seen 3 winters where there have been, at least for here, significant snowfall (significant is a relative term). So...my question...where is the investment and management planning required to deal with the issue? This was not a surprise fall, we all knew it was going to happen...both in terms of the day and also in terms of the season. A lot of the blame should be directed at Mr Plant, but some should be directed at the poor standard of driving in hazardous conditions.

    Report this comment

    Col

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • An alternative employment for Mr. Plant can be found, as a spitting image double to Masterchef judge Greg Wallace, failing that there is always a place on some NORSE company board for ex cllr.s.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • The more up to date story tells that the last time Norwich ground to a complete halt in the snow (04, I believe), £2.5m was spent on gritting. The budget for this year is £3.8m. Plant is in charge of setting aside that budget and his staff decide how and where gritting should be carried out. Given the increased amount spent on gritting there cannot surely be blame attributed to Plant. From what I've read the grit is ineffective at such low temps anyhow. And of course quickly becomes covered in deep snow during heavy snowfall. And then of course gritters can't even pass through the traffic anyhow. So many people on here quick to point the finger. But those phoning Plant are in my opinion pointing it unfairly.

    Report this comment

    DT

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • How can a simple act of a huge snow dump be the councils fault?! The report says the roads had been gritted, it very clearly explains the situation. this is just a platform for trolls and abusers to unleash their venom to the council and should be monitored by the EDP accordingly. Do people really want to hear it.

    Report this comment

    m347marcsmith

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • You would think that all roads to the hospital would have been absolutely cleared for patients and emergency - but no ! Cancelled appointments because of gridlock ! Someone was NOT doing their job! Disgraceful ! We are the laughing stock of the nation when it comes to snow falling, every time this happens, every time we are assured ' it won't happen again, lessons have been learned' - I don't think so ! Just a repeat performance!

    Report this comment

    Stop Press

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • With the Greatest Man alive in charge (Graham) face facts like the Outer Harbour he is a walking failure

    Report this comment

    John L Cooper

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • It is safe to presume that the biggest critics on this forum demanding better investment and improved services all drive on Winter Tyres between December and March.

    Report this comment

    George Ezekial

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • Yes, I hear what he says that all gritters were out, but how many is all? Its easy to say all! Anyone travelling around knows full well that you hardly ever see a gritter. Years ago at the first sign of snow they would have been out gritting and using every vehicle available to them. Now its wait until the last moment and often that last moment is too late. They're always overtaken by events, well considering what we pay for services I expect them to be on top of this.

    Report this comment

    Carol Barnes

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • At midday yesterday (15 Jan) I got the car ready to head into Norwich (clearing it of snow from the night before). The weather was clear and sunny at the time. I had checked the Met Office website and there were no warnings of snow for the afternoon. At 1pm, just before I set out, it started snowing very heavily - within 15 minutes the car had as much snow on it as it had before I cleared it. By now the Met Office had updated their website to show heavy snow for the rest of the afternoon. Naturally, I cancelled my trip. The point is: this is winter, conditions can and do change very quickly. There are plenty of gritters and they do a great job - covering the main road network. But they can't be on every road at once and they can't run 24 hours a day (think budgets and hefty tax rises). Also, grit (whether sand and salt or pure salt - which is more expensive and doesn't provide as much grip) stops being effective below about 6 degrees - that's not the fault of the council - that's physics. I wonder how many of those complaining actually had a bag of grit in their garage to use on their pavements - or did anything else to help, such as not making unnecessary journeys, or slowing down and keeping their distance when on the roads? It's very easy to carp - but if you think you can do better than members of the council, apply for their job and prove it.

    Report this comment

    Huw Sayer

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • People are to blame not the Council

    Report this comment

    Piranha24

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • Why should Mr Plant resign. Surely he is not to blame for the snow? The problem is that once there is a slight hint of snow, Norfolk drivers slow down to a snails pace causing huge tailbacks. Traffic on Queens Road was blocked because two thoughtful buses coming into town from Trowse, blocked Hall Road junction. This prevented vehicles coming out of town turning right, which in turn meant meant tailbacks through St Stephens Roundabout. This morning the traffic on the A140 from Long Stratton was moving at a snails pace but the roads were clear! If you can’t drive in the snow then don’t. If you see a 100 cars behind you, pull over and let them get past you. It’s less stressful for everyone and prevents drivers getting impatient and trying to pass. Also note the City Council must also share any blame. We could have more gritter’s and the high tech kit, but at a cost. Anybody put their hand up to pay more Council Tax for the one off’ time we need them?? Thought not. As far as schools are concerned, it’s amazing how they closed but businesses still stayed open. And Fenscape, how you manage to bring in a disused airfield into the debate is beyond me.

    Report this comment

    Andy T

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • Perhaps if everyone didn't panic and leave work early the gritters would have a chance to do their job. How many of these people saying it took hours to get home left off early? As it was my wife left at her normal time and it took 4 14 hours to get home, a distance of 15 miles. Stop critcising the council and start taking responsibility foryourown actions.

    Report this comment

    Drayton Resident

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • Norfolk County Council cabinet member for planning and transportation. Said - “But, under the circumstances, we do not see what more could have been done to improve the situation in what were exceptional circumstances.” - if he doesn't know what needs to done by now then he should fall on his sword - but like most council officers they don't have the honour to know when to quit, just keep bumbling on...

    Report this comment

    Stop Press

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • Ladies! West Norfolk had this massive snowfall on Monday afternoon and into the evening, main roads in town and the bypass were white the whole time it was falling so heavy. By Tuesday morning we had tarmac again, it was minus 10.4 when I went out this morning and the side roads like glass as you'd expect but the main roads clear. Plant and Jackson are simply using the wrong mix again, 10 parts bull---t and 1 part salt isn't working anymore.

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • Perhaps if everyone didn't panic and leave work early the gritters would have a chance to do their job. How many of these people saying it took hours to get home left off early? As it was my wife left at her normal time and it took 4 14 hours to get home, a distance of 15 miles. Stop critcising the council and start taking responsibility foryourown actions.

    Report this comment

    Drayton Resident

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • One conclusion which can be drawn from this is that further cuts to Norfolk's highway budget must be seriously questioned and questions should be asked too about whether cuts which have already been made need to be restored.If the council does not provide the answers then the unions will.A word for those without Chelsea Tractors,pavements in the more urban areas need attention too.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • This just comes down to the council trying to underspend against budget. They knew bad weather was coming, they chose to do nothing about it. This is not about the gritting teams, they do their job as they are told. If the council are saying that they do not know what they could have done differently then I think its right for them to change the decision makers. The cost to the economy yesterday was significant, the cost to the people was even worse. The council should have been watching the weather and not the budget. Please resign sir and free up the position for someone who knows how to handle roads and transportation.

    Report this comment

    Dave B

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • Having been on Rose Lane when the blizzard started I can say the roads were fine, people were driving carefully, there was hardly any traffic.  The snow came down so fast it was piling on the bonnet. It really was a white out. I think employers must have released their staff about 10 minutes after it started snowing as thats when I got caught in gridlock . I'm sure the roads were gritted but everyone was stationary so maybe it wasnt taking.  Thank you to the builders company on bracondale who pushed cars and the men at county hall roundabout controlling traffic flow (county hall staff, Unilever staff, may gurney staff all leaving at the same time!) Not sure what the council could have done better except send manpower to walk the streets and push drivers who were scared.

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    m347marcsmith

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • The people of Norfolk are obviously looking at this the wrong way... what cost badly gritted roads when we now own a large disused airfield that NCC bought for the meagre sum of £6.5m? Surely that's worth sitting in a traffic jam in sub zero temperatures for hours on end?

    Report this comment

    User Removed

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • I was just thinking.....why don't the gritting people talk to the education people? Some schools were closed Tuesday morning BEFORE there was any word or sign of the really bad weather, so obviously the schools must know in advance how bad it might be so I suggest that the gritters get out the moment any school says its going to close for the day!

    Report this comment

    Carol Barnes

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • The icy weather IS predictable. I know when its going to be icy because the MoJ sends someone to grit their property. They come without fail at night. No problem with gridlock if you send the gritters out through the night.

    Report this comment

    oldowl

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • @francis "The problem is partly the speed and weight of snow that fell. You cannot have a gritting lorry on every road at the same time just as the snow starts falling. So the lorries get stuck in the traffic. It is also partly due to people not being used to driving in snow and not knowing the technique required. Then the chap in front of you stops and this stops you and neither of you can then get started again." At last, somoene who talks sense. The chaos yesterday was not so much due to lack of grittingfinancial cutbacks etc; but really due to the amount of snow that fell in such a short space of time, coupled with motorists not being able to drive in the conditions they were faced with!!!

    Report this comment

    Mr Ed

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • Lets be clear about a couple of things here. What occurred at lunchtime yesterday was neither a "white out" or a "blizzard". It was snowfall amounting to no more than a couple of inches. However, it has managed to plunge most of North Norfolk into "chaos". I moved here from Scotland 4 years ago and have seen 3 winters where there have been, at least for here, significant snowfall (significant is a relative term). So...my question...where is the investment and management planning required to deal with the issue? This was not a surprise fall, we all knew it was going to happen...both in terms of the day and also in terms of the season. A lot of the blame should be directed at Mr Plant, but some should be directed at the poor standard of driving in hazardous conditions.

    Report this comment

    Col

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • Carol Barnes and all others moaning about the Gritting teams. Perhaps you should get yourself out of bed about 3am as that's when the first of the shifts starts and then it will be daybreak,midday,and then mid to late afternoon. This has to be done by more than one driver due to the laws on driving hours and the 'Working Time Directive'.(links at bottom) This used to be a double manned job (driver and a mate) but due to severe government cutbacks it is now single manned. So if you have a problem with this take it up with you local MP and get him or her to abolish this ridiculous law which restricts drivers from working any reasonable hours they want. http:www.dft.gov.uk http:www.hse.gov.ukcontactfaqsworkingtimedirective.htm

    Report this comment

    greenmanwalking

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • You still there Plantlife? Go away.

    Report this comment

    Electra

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • Yesterday took me an age to get home as i'm sure was the same for others but i'm not on here to moan about that, but what i would say if the NDR was built there would have been less traffic going from south to North...(me included). We MUST get this road built it would clearly have helped

    Report this comment

    Petree

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • It's winter, it snows and gets icy. It's happened for centuries. Deal with it everybody and stop blaming everyone else. Anyone would think it was the end of the world the way people are carrying on.

    Report this comment

    Johhny Reggae

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • I think Johhny Reggae has summed it up perfectly, and as for people phoning Mr Plant at his home, thats just disgraceful, have they really nothing better to do? Its winter, we get heavy snow for a few days, its not the end of the world!

    Report this comment

    catalonia13

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • Why not resign over this Mr Plant. Save you having to resign with the the rest of the cabinet when some very unsavoury facts come out in about two hours time under the cover of Parliamentary Privilege from Henry Bellingham.

    Report this comment

    Electra

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • I was involved in NCC winter maintenance for 10 year's. Blame management, not the driver's. "How do the snow plough driver's get to work?" We never could take a day's holiday let alone a week holiday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Report this comment

    nnaw

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

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