Cold snap brings village to a standstill

PUBLISHED: 14:20 06 January 2009 | UPDATED: 21:38 31 May 2010

Schoolchildren abandon the bus amid the chaos in Littlebury Green (Picture: Stephen Huntley)

Schoolchildren abandon the bus amid the chaos in Littlebury Green (Picture: Stephen Huntley)

FREEZING temperatures caused chaos in a village when cars, emergency service vehicles and school buses became stranded on a treacherous stretch of road. An inch of snow and ice on the hill leading into Littlebury Green, near Saffron Walden, cut off the vi

FREEZING temperatures caused chaos in a village when cars, emergency service vehicles and school buses became stranded on a treacherous stretch of road.

An inch of snow and ice on the hill leading into Littlebury Green, near Saffron Walden, cut off the village's only access route on Monday morning.

District councillor and resident of Littlebury Green, Cllr Jan Menell, said: "This becomes a very dangerous road when it freezes and somebody is going to get killed if we don't take action."

Police were called to the village shortly after 8am when two cars, a Mitsubishi Trojan and a BMW, collided on the hill near Howe Hall Farm on Littlebury Green Road. One of the vehicles had overturned and the driver and passenger suffered minor injuries.

Emergency services attending the incident, which included a fire engine, police cars and an ambulance, all became trapped on the icy slope.

A spokesperson for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said a specialist off-road vehicle - called a Unimog - had to be drafted in from Stansted to free the fire engine.

Eyewitness Felicity Cafferkey said: "On my way back from taking my daughter to school I realised how icy the road was. I saw a paramedic's vehicle had got stuck on the slope and my car soon became stranded as well - it was like a skating rink.

"There was a queue of vehicles behind me who couldn't get into the village; even the police's 4x4 couldn't make it. Eventually my car had to be towed up the hill by a farmer."

Three school buses became stuck in the village and the schoolchildren had to walk down the hill and board another bus at the bottom.

Ms Menell said: "The road gets very busy because it has become a rat-run for people from Royston and Duddenhoe End travelling to Saffron Walden, but we are not considered a 'service road' by Essex County Council Highways, so it does not qualify for automatic gritting.

"I will be campaigning to get the county council to change their gritting policy so they focus on danger areas when bad weather occurs. Also I will try to get the parish council to purchase a grit bin for the top of the hill and get better signage."

The road was not reopened until midday when the ice had thawed and a gritting truck had been called to the area.

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