Snow and ice cause travel chaos and school closures

WINTER WONDERLAND The Pantiles after a dusting of snow on Sunday (picture courtesy of Greg Clark MP)

A WHITE Christmas came early this year, with Tunbridge Wells waking up to snow and ice at the beginning of the week as much of Kent and the South East were blasted by wintry weather on Sunday night.

The Met Office issued a yellow weather warning for Kent and the South East for Monday and Tuesday (December 12-13) as ice patches and fresh snow led to dangerous conditions.

Major disruption was seen on the trains with Southeastern advising passengers not to travel on Monday due to snow and ice covering the tracks across the whole Southeastern network.

There were severe disruptions on the Hastings line and Paddock Wood line serving Tunbridge Wells on Monday morning after snow, ice and trees had fallen on the tracks.

Many people were stranded at Tonbridge railway station after all services stopped on Sunday evening.

Disruption continued, with strikes by the RMT Union taking place today and yesterday (Tuesday December 13), and on Friday and Saturday (December 16-17).

Most disruption was seen on the roads, with the M25 and A21 majorly affected by snow and ice on Sunday evening, with hundreds of people being stuck for hours on the motorways.

Even though most main roads had been cleared by Monday morning, National Highways told people not to travel ‘unless absolutely necessary’.

Bus operator Arriva Kent experienced a number of cancellations and delays. In Tunbridge Wells, the 281, 277, 218 and 219 services were affected.

A number of local schools were also closed in on Monday, including both girls and boys Tunbridge Wells Grammar Schools, and Tonbridge Grammar School, although many managed to keep their doors open despite the wintry weather.

The cold snap also prompted the Met Office to issue a level three cold weather warning for the region until 9am on Friday (December 16), with very cold nights and widespread frosts expected, and daytime temperatures just above freezing.

Kate Langford, Chief Medical Officer at NHS Kent and Medway, said: “Staying warm during cold weather is really important and there are simple steps we can all take to help ourselves and vulnerable friends and family.

“Cold weather can make some health problems worse and some people may need extra help during the winter. Keep in touch with your friends, neighbours and family and ask if they need any practical help, or if they’re feeling unwell.”

Meanwhile, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) suspended bin collections on Monday due to the harsh weather conditions.

In a statement on Twitter, the Council said: “All bin collections have been suspended for today because of the weather conditions.

“Some roads are not passable. Crews have been deployed to assist with clearing and gritting where possible. We apologise for the inconvenience and will update as soon as we have more information.”

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