‘Beast from the East’ causes chaos across Mercury Country

SES head of grounds Bob  Carder and facilities manager Barry Hancock lend a helping hand
SES head of grounds Bob Carder and facilities manager Barry Hancock lend a helping hand

The so-called Beast from the East arrived in the area this week bringing with it school closures and road accidents, including one that claimed three lives.

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, a blue Renault Clio and a white Scania lorry were involved in a crash on the A15 at Baston, close to Waterside Garden Centre.

Sadly three women travelling in the Clio, two women in their late 30s and another in her 40s, died.

Police are appealing for information after the crash, which lead to the road being closed for several hours.

Lead investigator Sgt Helen Allcroft said:“Sadly three people have lost their lives and several people have faced the shock of witnessing or coming across the scene.

“I appeal to anyone who was driving in the area or saw the collision to contact me. I also ask if drivers can check their dash cams for footage of either of the vehicles involved. This will help our investigation.”

On the same day at about 8.45am, 45 schoolchildren escaped uninjured after the school bus they were travelling on to The Deepings School collided with a car and slid into a dyke on Custom Road, between Frognall and Stowgate near Deeping St James.

Richard Lord, headteacher of the school, said: “All the children are safe and well, but a little shaken up and we’ll be putting out a bulletin to students who travel on buses about the situation.”

And the snow continued to worsen. On Tuesday night, the A1 was closed between Peterborough and Tinwell for several hours - with many people getting stuck for several hours.

At least six HGVs jackknifed and up to 400 vehicles were trapped on the A1 while the road was closed and recovery took place.

And despite both Lincolnshire County Council and Rutland County Council working around the clock with gritting runs, roads were still largely impassable on Wednesday - with police urging motorists not to make journeys unless essential. There were a host of minor accidents on roads across the area.

Lincolnshire County Council’s executive member for highways Richard Davies (Con) said: “Our gritters are out, doing everything they can to keep the county moving, but even so there will be some very challenging driving conditions and inevitably some disruption.

“So, I’d urge everyone to take extra care when they are out on the roads – even on treated routes.”

Coun Nick Begy (Con), portfolio holder for highways and deputy leader of Rutland County Council, added: “Our gritting teams are on standby 24 hours a day throughout the winter months to help reduce the impact of cold weather.

“Our priority is to treat the main routes throughout the county in order to keep people safe. This means gritting around 160 miles of roads, including all A and B roads, designated access routes into most villages, main routes to GP surgeries, hospitals and schools. If snow is forecast we will also grit the main footpaths in Uppingham and Oakham town centres and have learned from what happened over the Christmas period.

“We ask that drivers take extra care in winter weather. Communities can make use of the grit bins in towns and villages and these can be restocked if needed. We’d also encourage people to check in on elderly or vulnerable neighbours.”

The weather also caused traffic chaos in towns in the area on Wednesday including High Street St Martin’s in Stamford.

But in a remarkable act of kindness, maintenance staff from Stamford Endowed Schools used a tractor with a plough attached to its front to clear snow in the High Street St Martin’s area.

The continued cold weather even led to Lincolnshire Police declaring a “critical incident”.

The force said it was working with partner agencies as part of a strategic plan to alleviate traffic issues after more than 70 traffic-related incidents were reported during Wednesday up to 2pm.

Deputy chief constable Craig Naylor said: “We are dealing with a serious situation which is impacting on services for all agencies. The roads are in a very difficult position.

“The plans we have put in place as a Strategic Coordinating Group allow us to keep things going but these are reduced services under significant demands.

“If you can avoid calling for an ambulance or avoid calling the police or fire service, please do.

“Please only call 999 in an emergency.”

East Midlands Trains from both Stamford and Oakham stations were running throughout the week, albeit with some delays to services.

Schools across Stamford, Bourne and Rutland, were also forced to close their doors on Wednesday and Thursday and it was unclear whether they would reopen before the weekend, as the Mercury went to press late yesterday.

Meanwhile, doctors are urging residents to take care.

Residents who are older and frail, as well as people living with respiratory conditions, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can be particularly affected with temperatures making it harder to breathe and triggering symptoms, such as shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing.

Dr James Ogle, a GP speaking on behalf of the West Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “There are some things that you can do to help prevent your condition getting worse. Keep your house warm, and if you do go out, wrap up carefully. Use a scarf to breathe cold air through and also breathe through your nose. If you have asthma or COPD, make sure you know what to do when your condition gets worse.”

The risk of slips and falls also becomes more likely and residents are reminded to stay safe by wearing sturdy boots and taking care when walking.

If someone is unlucky enough to take a tumble, it is not always necessary to visit a GP or A and E. Usually the best course of action for minor sprains and strains is to visit a local pharmacy who can advise on how to take care at home. If a patient needs immediate medical advice when their GP practice is closed, but it’s not a 999 emergency, they are advised to call NHS 111.

Even bin collections were disrupted. Households have been advised by South Kesteven District Council that if their recycling is not collected as normal “to take their wheelie bins back and present them again in two weeks’ time”.

And it’s not over yet. The cold snap is forecast to continue over the weekend, according to the Met Office.

l Keep an eye on www.stamfordmercury.co.uk for all the latest on the weather.