Brentwood snowed under!

SCHOOLS and community centres were cut off by snow after gritters failed to target access roads despite warnings to two authorities.

Snow and black ice wreaked havoc across the county, closing hundreds of schools across Essex and causing gridlock on the roads.

But warnings of unnecessary school closures in Brentwood South, which routinely misses out on gritting services provided by Brentwood Council and Essex County Council, went unheeded.

Fears highlighted in the Recorder last week proved well founded and Endeavour School in Hogarth Avenue failed to open on Tuesday because of the extreme weather conditions.

Nearby Hogarth Primary School opened on Tuesday despite icy conditions, which caused several lorries to get stuck in Ingrave Road, but was defeated on Wednesday.

Both councils claimed they were ready for action last week but with one covering main roads and the other tackling high streets and other key areas, many smaller roads are not gritted.

Hogarth Primary headteacher John Howells said: “It makes you wonder how they prioritise these things. We have Endeavour School, which has children with learning difficulties; our school, the Lions Day Centre for elderly people and the Hogarth Centre – all catering for some of the most vulnerable people in society. If we are not a priority, then what is?

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“When we don’t open we get it in the neck from the LEA as well, so we can’t win.”

Labour Cllr Mike Le-Surf and residents are today (Friday) staging an emergency meeting at the school in Riseway from 10.45am, to find a way forward, with worsening conditions expected over the coming weeks.

The county council had been expected to deliver salt to the area – which would have been spread about by the local community – but it failed to arrive in time, according to Cllr Le-Surf.

He said: “In any case, who would have been there at 3am to distribute it on to the roads and pavements? This is the barmy big society in action.”

A spokesman said the county council focuses its gritting resources on major roads, including all A and B roads, access routes for emergency services and rural link roads.

The spokesman added: “Except in exceptional circumstances, we do not treat minor roads or pavements in residential areas, areas that are not part of the public highway, footways and cycle tracks.”

Brentwood Council had to cancel its meeting to decide the future of the Town Hall, which was rescheduled for Thursday, December, 9, at 7.30pm.

The High Street remained virtually empty throughout Tuesday while Brentwood Ursuline, St Martins and Shenfield High schools did not open. Brentwood School and Brentwood County High were open but with severely reduced attendances.