Heavy snowfall causes disruption across Kent

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Snow plough in Tunbridge Wells
Image caption,
Snow ploughs have been trying to clear the roads in Tunbridge Wells

Heavy snowfall has brought disruption to the road and rail network in Kent.

Police urged drivers to take extra care and warned they should be prepared for hazardous conditions as up to 8in (20cm) of snow was forecast in parts.

Major routes particularly affected included the M20 coastbound, the A21 near Sevenoaks, and between junctions six and five, Kent-bound, on the M25.

Rail passengers also faced disruption with a contingency timetable being run by Southern and Southeastern.

Sarah Boundy, from Southeastern, said earlier it was going to be a "pretty disruptive service throughout the day".

Overnight, temperatures plunged to as low as -8C in parts of Kent.

Network Rail were de-icing trains through the night, along with ghost trains to try to stop ice forming on the tracks.

Eurostar services were also delayed by up to one hour on Saturday due to the weather.

Bluewater open

The icy conditions failed to deter Christmas shoppers at Bluewater in Greenhithe, which remained open despite the snow.

A team of 160 people worked to keep the shopping centre's car parks and access roads open, and a large number of gritters, ploughs and other equipment were being used.

Andrew Parkinson, Bluewater's general manager, said: "We are open for business as usual and expect to be busy.

"For many people, this will be their last chance to shop. For others, it will be the beginning of their Christmas shopping."

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