Government ‘complacency’ triggered snow chaos

By Ian Dunt

The transport secretary’s “complacency” is responsible for the chaos which greeted nationwide snowfall today, Labour has argued.

In a reversal of scenes from last year, when the Conservatives attacked Labour for being unprepared for the extreme weather conditions, shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle attacked her government counterpart, Philip Hammond for not organising a better government response to the snow.

“Does he believe the complacent attitude he’s exhibited today is in anyway satisfactory?” she asked following an urgent question in the Commons today.

“The secretary of state is exhibiting a breathtaking degree of complacency. He’s not filling the House with any kind of confidence that he’s dealing with his responsibility adequately.”

Mr Hammond replied: “I can assure her there is no complacency whatsoever.

“My department has not been contacted by any local authority saying they need more grit.”

The transport secretary insisted that 100,000 tonnes of grit were ready to be made available for local authorities.

“The secretary of state really has to get a grip on this situation,” Labour MP Clive Efford said.

“What I want to hear from him is what he’s doing to the train companies to make sure they give up to date, accurate information?”

Mr Hammond replied: “I agree with the honourable gentleman that the lack of information is inexcusable.”

Asked by Labour MP Roberta Blackman-Woods whether Cobra had been scrambled, Mr Hammond replied: “The situation is being kept under continuous review. If it is appropriate to convene a meeting of Cobra later today that meeting will be convened.”