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'Ice rink' highways but where are gritters?

PUBLISHED: 09:33 24 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:39 07 September 2010

A car after hitting a bus stop in Hampstead Lane

A car after hitting a bus stop in Hampstead Lane

RESIDENTS across Camden have slammed the council's attempts at gritting the roads during the arctic conditions which struck London this week. Across Hampstead, motorists and residents battled treacherous conditions to get home on Monday eve

Susanna Wilkey

RESIDENTS across Camden have slammed the council's attempts at gritting the roads during the arctic conditions which struck London this week.

Across Hampstead, motorists and residents battled treacherous conditions to get home on Monday evening - and many were left furious that there was not a gritter in sight.

Maris Dora, who lives on Heathside, said: "Conditions on East Heath Road and Haverstock Hill were appalling. My car got stuck and there was not a council gritter in sight.

"My husband had just come out of hospital and we had to walk across the Heath to get home. This has happened several times and I thought by now they would be able to grit in advance.

"This is lethal for some people and a matter of life and death. For elderly people, pregnant women and mothers with buggies, it is very dangerous.

"The wardens were still out ticketing cars in South End Green, despite the fact that some of them could not even move."

Zahava Shore thanked the residents of Arkwright Road who helped stranded drivers. She said: "It was horrific, we were inching forward because it was like an ice rink and the residents were coming out with spades clearing the road in front of us and spreading salt in front of our tyres. They were absolute heroes and deserve a medal."

Ex-chairman of Hampstead Safer Neighbourhoods Team, Nigel Steward, said: "All I could see was local people pushing cars up Keats Grove onto Downshire Hill for five hours on Monday night. Vans and lorries had to be pushed and one or two got stuck. There were no sign of any gritters."

Meanwhile Madeleine Kendall, of Hampstead Square, was furious that Westminster gritted paths and roads but walking was still treacherous across the border in Camden.

"I was staggered," she said. "You walk across Swiss Cottage from Westminster into Camden and you are literally in an ice rink."

In Hampstead Lane, Highgate, several cars skidded off the road on Wednesday morning. Police confirmed the crash, in which no-one was injured, was caused by icy conditions on the road, which marks the border between Haringey and Camden.

John Plews, who owns the Gatehouse Theatre in Hampstead Lane, said: "There is a definite lack of gritting around Highgate."

Trader Avril Castellazzo added: "They could have avoided this problem if they had gritted straight away."

The accident happened on a Haringey section of the road. The council claimed it was gritted in the early hours of Wednesday.

Environment boss Cllr Chris Knight at Camden Council said a team of gritters were working 24/7 to deal with the conditions.

He said: "Some roads were gritted and then the weight of the snow that came on top has frozen it over. We have deployed 420 tonnes of salt and grit. Downhill slopes have been gritted over and over. Gritters cannot get where they are going if the roads are blocked with cars. The teams have been doing everything possible to deal with the situation." The council said it ordered wardens to stop issuing tickets at 4.30pm on Monday and that abandoned vehicles would be moved to the sides of the road free of charge.


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