BLIZZARDS brought Hyndburn to a standstill this week. All the borough’s high schools were shut on Wednesday as youngsters enjoyed an extension of their Christmas break as at least 30 schools across the borough were closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Hyndburn Park Primary School, Accrington, Oswaldtwistle School and North Cliffe School, Great Harwood had already shut on Monday.
Businesses were badly hit by absence with staff unable to get out on the roads while the ambulance services declared the weather a ‘major incident’.
Its emergency service was restricted to ‘life-threatening’ incidents while NHS bosses advised people with upcoming out-patient or day-patient appointments to contact their hospital clinic and check for cancellations.
Severe weather warnings were issued across East Lancashire and police warned that conditions on the roads were treacherous and motorists should only travel if essential. They pledged to respond to emergencies as usual but asked the public to only call 999 if absolutely necessary.
Lancashire County Council and Hyndburn Borough Council both reported minimal disruption to council services, with six cremations at Accrington all going ahead on time on Tuesday.
Football fans were also hit as Tuesday nights scheduled Blackburn Rovers v Aston Villa match at Ewood Park was postponed for safety reasons.
At Altham’s RSPCA centre, unavoidable staff absences meant extra shifts for those clocking in. Centre manager Jeanette Ainscough said: "There are 16 staff altogether but we normally have five or six in at a time.
"We have got some staff unable to get in this morning which puts pressure on the rest of the staff. The animals still need watering and feeding. Fortunately all the animals are sheltered and in the warm and dry."
North Cliffe School headteacher Mark Wilson said: "We have had our site manager working at it all day to clear it, but it is compacted snow with ice on top. We have a difficult entrance to the school as it is very steep and difficult in these conditions."
County Councillor Susie Charles, Cabinet Member for Young People, said: "The decision whether to close schools in adverse weather is taken by individual headteachers in conjunction with their school’s chair of governors.
"They have to consider safety first and foremost, based on local conditions both at the school and in the surrounding area, and whether enough teachers can get into school to supervise the children."
COUNTY Hall bosses have come underfire after the borough’s grit stocks ran out with temperatures plunging below freezing.
Roads and pavements were left treacherously icy as resources were focused on salting ‘major’ routes rather than filling grit bins.
North Cliffe School in Great Harwood and Oswaldtwistle St Mary’s were shut on Monday over safety worries, before Tuesday’s heavy snowstorms.
Accrington South county councillor Graham Jones called for heads to roll among the county's highways chiefs over the handling of the big freeze.
Councillor Jones said: "The new Conservative administration at County Hall have been badly caught out by their lack of planning for the recent ‘cold snap’. It’s two weeks in and they’ve run out of grit. Did they think it would be coming in May? It has been gridlock with many streets still remaining full of snow and dangerous ice with more forecast to come."
St Oswald’s Councillor Doug Hayes warned that elderly people were most at risk of becoming isolated in their homes.
He said: "They’ve just been housebound. The amount of gritting they’ve done has not been effective."
Nicola Chayner, headteacher at Accrington’s Woodnook Primary School, was angered by the condition of Royds Street on Monday morning - a key route for pupils of Woodnook, Hollins Technology College and Lea Royd Nursery.
She said: "They’ve done nothing to Royds Street, it’s like an unadopted road. Considering the steepness of it, and that there are three schools off it, it’s a bit silly."
Highways chief County Councillor Keith Young said: "We have been able to keep salting the priority roads and keep them passable.
"It is important to reiterate that we are still not in a position to refill salt bins or attend to non-priority routes. With the current weather forecasts that are available to us, we must ensure that the priority routes, which take the most traffic, are kept clear."
RUBBISH and recycling collections have been suspended in Hyndburn due to concerns over road safety.
Collections of household and trade waste will not be resumed until Monday (January 11) at the earliest, due to the snow.
But residents have been told not to worry about rubbish being left for longer than usual because the cold weather will slow down the rotting process.
Council leader Councillor Peter Britcliffe explained: "The snow and icy weather conditions over the last week have affected all our waste collections and street cleansing services.
"We have tried our best to collect refuse and recycling but unfortunately the weather has made it impossible to operate safely on the roads. Hyndburn is not alone in making the decision to suspend services, as other councils across Lancashire are also doing the same. We are planning to restart collections on Monday, January, 11, but hope residents understand that we can only collect if it is safe to do so."
He added: "Don’t worry about food rotting in your bin or bin bags stored outside your property as the low temperatures will keep it cold or frozen."
The council is asking residents who presented containers this week but didn’t get them emptied, to take them back in and present them on their next scheduled collection.
Any recycling items that cannot fit into the blue box and sacks can be presented in carrier bags (not tied black sacks).
For non-recyclable waste, residents are reminded that the lid of the grey bin must be closed for health and safety reasons and as a one off? residents will be permitted to present up to four extra sacks at the side of the bin.
Any extra rubbish bags should be tied well and stored in a shed, outhouse or back yard.
Councillor Britcliffe has also asked residents to ‘call on neighbours’ who may be vulnerable during the heavy snowfall and ice, to check they have food supplies.
He said extra consideration should go out to the elderly and those with limited mobility until the freak weather subsides.
POLICE in Hyndburn are urging motorists to take extra care during in the current conditions.
Severe weather warnings have been issued across the county and conditions on Hyndburn roads are being described as treacherous.
Police are urging motorists to only travel if essential and if they do have to travel, be patient and allow for the conditions.
Police are continuing to respond to emergencies but are asking the public to only call 999 if it is absolutely necessary.
Superintendent Peter O’Dwyer said: "I urge people to take extra care and only travel if they have to. Motorists should keep their distance from the car in front."