Struggle as rural North East areas hit hardest by snow + GALLERY

RURAL areas of the region were hardest hit by the latest wintry blast to sweep the North East.

RURAL areas of the region were hardest hit by the latest wintry blast to sweep the North East.

Parts of Northumberland and County Durham were temporarily cut off as drifts of up to two metres (seven feet) blocked roads, while heavy snow closed schools and disrupted transport networks across the region.

The Army even had to be called in to rescue bus passengers stranded near Otterburn, Northumberland, and police and council workers were on the scene into the night in Rothbury to try and help people access the village. The A68 north of Stagshaw roundabout to Carter Bar and the A696 from Belsay to the A68 were also closed due to drifting snow.

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In Derwentside, shops in Consett closed their doors, with many people unable to get out of their streets. Homes were also left without power in Otterburn, Prudhoe and Ponteland, with Northern Powergrid reporting that engineers faced difficult driving conditions to carry out repairs.

At just before 9am yesterday, two buses became stuck in the snow on the A696 close to Otterburn.

Police and officers from Northumberland County Council attended and, during the early afternoon, with the help of Army personnel from Otterburn, were able to get the buses moving.

Officers were also at the scene in Rothbury, where the only main available access road, the B6341, suffered from snow drifts blowing across the road. The majority of shops were also closed. The other main access road is currently closed due to an earlier landslip.

A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: “Police and the local authority – with gritters and snow ploughs – were on site all day and will continue into the night in an effort to improve conditions.”

Northumberland County Councillor for Rothbury, Stephen Bridgett, said last night: “We have had four tractor ploughs, a gritter and a snow blower working to keep the road across the moor clear, but it is like a different world up there. Every time it clears the wind blows the snow back across the road.

“But the council and police have done a remarkable job and there has been a convoy system in place for people getting in and out of the village.

“We also have volunteers who help to clear drives and deliver groceries to the elderly, and the community has really come together.”

In Derwentside, the snow showed no sign of letting up and minor routes, including the road from Burnhope to south Stanley, becoming impassable.

Durham County Councillor for Consett North Clive Robson said: “It’s really bad, it’s never let up at all. We must have about eight inches. All the schools are closed and, although the main roads are passable with care, many people just can’t get out of the estates. All of the shops on the high street were closed this afternoon.”

Meanwhile, Northumberland College’s Kirkley Hall Campus will be closed today but plans to re-open tomorrow morning. Hexham and Prudhoe Centres will also be closed today but Ashington and Berwick centres will be open as usual. Students are advised to travel only if safe to do so from where they live.

Snow was expected to continue throughout last night into today, with showers continuing throughout the day.

Disruption felt across the region

ACROSS the region, the snow took its toll – closing schools and causing delays on transport networks.

Thousands of pupils stayed at home as schools closed their doors, while some flights were cancelled at Newcastle and Durham Tees Valley airports.

There were also short rail delays on the East Coast main line.

Commuters on Tyneside were hit by lengthy morning rush hour delays, with slow-moving traffic on the A1 Western Bypass and a four-vehicle collision on the A189 Spine Road at Cramlington.

Last night, Durham Police reported buses became stuck on Blackhill bank between Blackhill and Shotley Bridge.

Five flights were cancelled at Newcastle Airport and Durham Tees Valley Airport also saw cancellations and disruption.

With more snow forecast for today, many schools remain closed.

In Newcastle, bin crews were unable to carry out scheduled collections yesterday. A council spokesperson said: "Our bin crews are aware of which streets have been missed so there isn’t a need to report this.

"Please present your bins on your next scheduled collection day."

WHAT’S TO COME IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS

FURTHER snow is expected over parts of the North East today.

Over lower lying coastal areas accumulations are expected to be small whilst inland accumulations of 1-3cm are widely expected and above 200m in excess of 5cm is possible.

Tomorrow the snow will gradually turn more patchy and will probably largely die out by the evening.

On Thursday light snow showers are expected in the morning, turning misty in the afternoon. But the snow is unlikely to melt as temperatures could plunge as low as -7 in rural areas.

 

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