Somerset snow: Gritting crews prepare for further snow

Gritting crews in Somerset are preparing to carry out runs overnight to keep roads clear of snow and ice.

Somerset Highways has said in the past 24 hours it had used about 625 tonnes of grit, but said levels were still "looking good" at about 6,000 tonnes.

Overnight snow on Thursday had forced the closure of more than 250 schools in Somerset.

Snow fall throughout Friday also caused some disruption on a number of roads with some temporary closures.

At about 16:00 GMT on Friday, children were seen throwing objects from a motorway bridge on the M5 between junctions 21 and 22 northbound onto the main carriageway which caused further problems for motorists.

Travel disruption

Somerset closed 183 schools, while 86 were shut in Bath and North East Somerset after 7in (18cm) of snow fell on the county.

A Somerset County Council spokesman said: "Each head teacher is best placed to determine whether their school can operate with the staff that have been able make the journey in and the condition of the school site.

"Head teachers are fully aware of the need to try and open their schools as they understand how frustrating it is for parents to find child care at short notice, however they need to ensure that they have enough staff to care for those children who are in school safely."

Greenfylde School in Ilminster remained open as the head teacher slept on site to ensure no disruption.

Head teacher, John Jeffrey, said: "I try to keep the school open if I possibly can, and by being there early, it makes it much easier and I can make a decision.

"We can clear all the paths and make sure I can get all the staff in and I know everything is safe and we can open."

In West Somerset, the council warned that it was having trouble keeping some roads open and the police warned drivers should not travel.

The A39 in Exmoor has been particularly problematic, but the highways team managed to re-open the road by early afternoon after clearing it from snow, the county council said.

First Bus suspended buses services in Bath and Wells while Taunton firm Hatch Green Coaches said it had withdrawn all of its services.

Image caption Gritters have been out salting the main roads across Somerset in anticipation of snow

"We're advising motorists, in particular heavy goods vehicles, to avoid making journeys unless they are absolutely necessary," Avon and Somerset Police said.

Train operator South West has cancelled its Yeovil to London Waterloo service.

Berry's Coaches cancelled all schools and college services but the London Express is still running.

Stuart Berry, managing director of Berry's coaches said: "At the end of the day, safety is the priority. It's far better to cancel these things than risk children being injured if a coach slides into a ditch or something like that.

"It's just not safe to operate."

Elsewhere, managers of the Royal United Hospital in Bath were asking patients and visitors not to travel to the hospital unless absolutely necessary. The University of Bath and Bath Spa University closed all campus buildings.

Bath and North East Somerset Council said all waste collections had been suspended and recycling centres were closed.

In Somerset, recycling centres were also closed for the day.

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