Snow chaos: Report defends govt preparedness

The government response to the snow has been heavily criticised in some quarters
The government response to the snow has been heavily criticised in some quarters

By staff

The government's preparations for winter have been praised by an official audit, but lessons 'still need to be learned'.

David Quarmby's report praised the "admirable" response to the chaos, contradicting opposition claims that the government was "woefully ill-prepared" for the freezing conditions.

Although the report acknowledged the difficulties experienced by local authorities and passengers, Mr Quarmby found that the "exceptional" weather conditions could not have been reasonably anticipated.

He said: "After two exceptional winters, the country has just experienced one of the earliest spells of severe weather for many years - with a further spell right now.

"Across the sector many have coped admirably, keeping roads open and public transport running. But there are still lessons to be learned: all local authorities need to ensure that their winter plans follow good practice wherever possible."

Poor performance at keeping passengers up to date from struggling rail services were criticised, with an over-reliance on electronic information highlighted.

The report continued: "The lack of adequate (or any) information during disruption to passengers on the third rail network south of the Thames was unacceptable."

Mr Quarmby also said all airports "will need to review whether further investment in winter resilience is called for."

Continuing disruption at Heathrow and on the Eurostar have prompted bitter criticism from passengers and opposition politicians - especially regarding confusion over service cancellations over the weekend.

Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle accused Philip Hammond of running the "department for chaos" yesterday.


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