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In the South East certainly, and in other parts of the country too, the snow – or "snow event", as the Met Office insists on calling it – has been heavier than for many years, probably since 1991. For those who bemoan the demise of old-fashioned winters of the sort we recall from our childhood, it is the culmination of many weeks of properly cold weather (though, to get things into perspective, it was -59F in the Siberian city of Ojmjakon yesterday).

For youngsters who have never seen its like, it has been a new and exciting experience. But it has also been disruptive and costly. Businesses have had to close and many people planning to travel abroad have had their trips ruined as the runway snowploughs fought a losing battle with the blizzard.

There is a ritual to the occurrence of inclement weather that has been played out once again. Official spokesmen appear on the radio urging people not to venture out "unless your journey is essential", which is a fatuous statement since most of us have to go to work. Then, when we do go out, we discover that the roads have not been properly gritted; or if they have been, the snow has covered it up again. The knock-on effects are felt as train drivers cannot get to their depots and commuters cannot get to their offices.

But there is a significant difference now to the way things used to be. The very first instinct in the public sector these days is to give up, rather than to battle with the elements, almost certainly because of "health and safety" considerations. In London yesterday, schools were closed even though most teachers and pupils live within walking distance; and, although a few routes opened later in the day, during the rush hour all the buses remained in their garages. Not even the Luftwaffe stopped the capital's buses. It should have been possible to run a reduced service.

Outside London, it was especially galling for people who wanted, and who tried, to get to work to find that the transport system had simply ground to a halt. Nobody expected it to run normally given the conditions; but is it really acceptable that it hardly functioned at all? It is not sensible to demand fleets of snowploughs and other equipment that is routinely available to a Canadian or Russian city for snowfall on a scale that happens here just once every 20 years and so, in view of the unusual severity of the weather, allowances must be made. However, given the laudatory efforts many made to get to work, our public services should not so readily reach for the off button. They should have tried harder.

source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/telegraph-view/4438926/Snow-exposes-the-public-sectors-instinct-to-give-up.html
Nick: JirkaPraha, 3.2.2009 08:09:22
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World Weather
16.6.2009 09:37:19 | Nick: JirkaPraha
In the South East certainly, and in other parts of the country too, the snow – or "snow event", as the Met Office insists on calling it – has been heavier than for many years, probably since 1991....
World Weather
3.2.2009 08:09:22 | Nick: JirkaPraha

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