Posted tagged ‘weather’

Snow trouble is c-old news

February 6, 2012

No app, but there is a digital map...

What a difference a few years makes. It seems so long and so little time ago that we wrote a piece after the cold snap at the end of 2010, when parts of the country had ground to a halt after an inch or two of snow fell and local government appeared to sit back and rest on its collective laurels.

At the time we called for councils up and down the country to take a little time to think about what had happened and perhaps review the things that went right and wrong and see if there were steps which could be taken to deal with it better next time round. We’d like to think therefore that we are entirely to be given credit for what’s happened recently (although in reality we accept that perhaps others had the same idea as us).

And what may these ideas have been? Well, fast forward just under fourteen months and Britain once again (shock horror) finds itself under snow in winter, and do you know what? It looks like town hall types took our advice and had a good think about what happened. Plans were drawn up, grit ordered and stockpiled and comms plans prepared, resulting in a far, far improved response in 2012.
The media, local or national, are often first in the queue to bash local government when things don’t go to plan. However, this time around I think on the whole things have gone very well. A combination of better preparation and better communication have borne fruit, with not only roads gritted but people more aware of this fact via judicial use of a range of tools, including digital. This has managed expectations better than ever before; I’ve spoken to people about gritted roads and actually heard them mention the words ‘arterial route’ without prompting. (more…)

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Are councils enviro-mental?

November 9, 2011

Ready or not, here it comes

We noticed that our good friends over at the Guardian Local Government Network are today running another in their series of excellent live web chats, this time on making councils greener. If you haven’t taken a look already, we suggest you head on over there.

This debate was brought to the fore in part thanks to a really good article by Faye Scott, which examined some of the threats and opportunities localism is presenting to the green agenda, we recommend you check it out.

This issue is one which has been troubling some of the WLLG crew recently. Before reading Faye’s article, we had been having similar conversations with coleagues about the way that the funding challenges facing local government are restricting the things we spend our money on, moving away from what we should be doing towards what we had to do.

To quote a couple of stats from the article:

• 37% of councils deprioritising climate change or state that it was never a priority

• 35% remain firm in their commitment to climate change and believe that action could even increase in the context of localism

• 28% are narrowing their ambitions to focus on reducing emissions from their estate and ceasing work on wider environmental issues.

The first of these stats is particularly shocking. Over a third of local authorities, having considered all of the implications, have decided doing their bit for the environment simply isn’t worth it. (more…)

Let’s talk about snow!

October 6, 2011

Slip up now and we'll slip up later

As the hot, summer sun beat down over the weekend just gone, with a cool beer in my hand and covered in factor 50, I began to think about snow.

That’s right, snow. Despite basking in record breaking temperatures and ending up with sunburnt feet, it was all I could do not to keep remembering that it was October, despite appearances, and if predictions are to be believed it is only a matter of weeks before our ice creams stop melting and the snow starts to fall.

‘Nonsense,’ I hear you cry, ‘tis months away and we have plenty of time to prepare. In fact, as it’s so warm now it’ll probably be a mild winter anyway and the gritters can stay in the garage.’ It is then that I remind you of the fable of the ant and the grasshopper.

Essentially, it boils down to the five ‘Ps’: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Now is exactly the time for councils up and down the country to be doling out the grit, which is precisely what some have begun to do. Plymouth and Sutton amongst others have already got on the case by preparing the snow ploughs and offering free grit to residents, with more hopefully following soon with plans of their own.  But is it worth doing yet? (more…)

Snow time to rest on our laurels

December 13, 2010

But what about next time?

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. (more…)

Caution – you are reading a blog

September 13, 2010

Recently I attended a meeting over at a different Town Hall which went on all afternoon.  Not my record for a single meeting perhaps, but a long old time during which the weather changed when it started raining like the tears of those who loved the scrapped Comprehensive Area Assessment.

On my way out I noticed that the security guards were putting out ‘Caution – wet floor’ signs in front of the building.  Upon enquiry I found out that this was what they always do when it starts to rain.

Simple question time – why?

(more…)