Snow time to rest on our laurels
It’s been just over a week now, a week after the chaos and disaster that was snow in London, a week in which life has returned to normality and the tubes are only late for reasons involving over-running maintenance work. The standard phrase is ‘a week is a long time in politics’; from the way things are, it looks like a week is also a long time in discussing the way we deal with snow.
Since the white stuff stopped falling from the sky I’ve heard practically nothing about what happened and how well or otherwise the snow was dealt with. Some boroughs got it very right, spreading grit and news about what they were doing all over the place. Some didn’t, and were slammed for slippery roads and even more slippery excuses. However, I’ve not heard much over the past seven days or so in the way of investigations, results or ideas for improvement.
Historically, the media usually takes this time to rip into everything and anything that a local authority does when it snows; the roads not being gritted, the tubes grinding to a halt, no news on school closures or something else entirely; like a drunk looking for a fight in a circus, they traditionally go for the jugular.
This year though, if you had been out of the country for a few days you might have been forgiven for questioning whether snow had even graced us with its presence. Like Katie Price looking for a headline, life has once again settled into its routines. That is, of course, at least until the next time it happens again, and with global warming grinding its way inexorably forwards it definitely will become a far more regular occurrence. I remember taking my new-born daughter into the snow several years ago as I wanted to get photos in case it never happened again. Since then she has thrown snowballs at me every year.
I would far rather see local authorities spending this post-snowfall time evaluating what they did both internally and externally to find out what worked and what didn’t. Some things, such as the excellent work done and chronicled by @loulouk, should be shared and learned from, whilst other places which were less proactive and dealt with things poorly need to be held to account.
This inquest cannot happen solely internally; the public are the ones most affected, so should be invited to tell local government what they felt and make suggestions for improvement. The few days of snow-related chaos were actually fairly short and manageable. If the same weather had happened over a much longer period of time and/or been more severe things might have been very different.
I know this all sounds a little London-centric, and I’m certain that things are different around the country, but I can only write what I know or think, and as a Londoner I worry about how we might deal with things should they continue to get worse. I don’t want us to deal with one cold snap adequately, think that we’ve cracked it and sit on our laurels; now is exactly the right time to discuss, review and improve what we do so next time we are even better prepared.
Who knows, one day we might not be so surprised and caught off guard if it snows in the winter.