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ICE FURY; Drivers angry at state of roads but Mallon says: Don't blame our council workers: IT'S SNOW JOKE: Teesside's fury over road chaos.

Byline: SANDY MCKENZIE; SARAH JUDD

TRAFFIC chaos caused by the icy weather made for treacherous journeys into Teesside workplaces today - and forced councils to defend their gritting operations.

Motorists struggling into work today described the horrendous state of Teesside's roads, claiming main routes into town centres had NOT been gritted or ploughed.

But Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon labelled some members of the public "an absolute disgrace" over comments they had made to council workmen clearing snow.

He says some people also have unreasonable expectations of what local authorities can achieve.

"Elected mayors and local authorities have no control over the weather. We can only prepare and react to weather conditions. That's exactly what we have done. We have done the best we can under the circumstances.

"I am not sure what else we can do but if there is anyone out there with some good ideas then I am listening." Mr Mallon said council workers had been out day and night. "But it is impossible to clear every road and street in Middlesbrough. Some members of the public have been an absolute disgrace with regard to the way they have spoken to council workers when they have been doing their best to clear the streets.

"Some people are always looking for someone to blame and often they pick on the local authority. Fortunately the vast majority of the public appreciate the situation." Ian Busby, Middlesbrough Council's design and infrastructure services manager, said a scheduled run of gritters yesterday evening was brought forward to 5pm because of reports of black ice in the Linthorpe Road and Hartington interchange area. "The gritters went out at 5pm and worked through the evening to cover all the Priotrity 1 routes. "The 4am run today was brought forward to 2am and the crews came back in at 8am.

There was a shift change and the gritters are out again. "We rely on the action of traffic to work in the salt to melt the snowand ice. If we spread salt and snow falls on top of it it can give the impression that the road has not been salted. Over the last few days we have been out constantly. Up to yesterday we had spread 1,900 tonnes of salt." Mr Busby said there had been some allegations about people taking salt from bins for their own use. Jamie McCann, head of direct services at Stockton Council, said gritters were out covering the Priority 1 routes at noon and 6pm yesterday and from 3am to 6am today. "We are not here to save money - we are here to keep the road network safe." A Redcar and Cleveland Council spokesman said gritting was continuing 24 hours a day, all roads were clear and when work was finished on main routes, they would be moving on to some housing estates."

But many motorists contacted the Gazette to complain about the roads. Easterside receptionist Jenny Alton, 30, described the roads in Middlesbrough town centre as "shocking" as well as parts of Marton Road - one of the main arteries into the town. She said: "The Easterside estate is terrible. Middlesbrough Council want to hang their heads in shame. The roads are terrible. We all pay and we should have the roads done for safety." Andrew Starling, 72, from Linthorpe saw a delivery wagon t almost "wipe out" two parked cars. Mechanic Stuart Whitehead, 26, of Middlesbrough, said: "The A66 was outright dangerous." And Rachel Mahoney, from Acklam, said: "Green Lane and Acklam Road were sheet ice." Redcar resident Jason Dunk complained about the state of roads and paths near Wheatlands Primary School.

"Hundale Crescent is currently lethal," he said. Police reported problem, including a car off the road on the A174 near the Marton turnoff, a broken-down vehicle caused by a blowout on the slip road off the A174 turning off at Marton and on the A19, an HGV stuck in snow at the side of the carriageway, blocking one lane north of Crathorne. A broken down bus on the westbound carriageway of the A66 from the exit slip road off Newport Roundabout was also causing traffic problems.

Diving conditions were also tricky on the A174 Whitby to Middlesbrough road and A171 Moors Road Guisborough mum-of-two Debora Thwaites blasted the council for allowing grit bin stocks to run out. The 39-year-old was out at 6am today to try to clear a route off the Galley Hill estate, but found the grit bin empty at the junction of Great Auk and Heron Gate. Updates will also continue on our live blog at gazettelive.co.uk.

There's more Ice, ice... maybe? A NORTH-EASTERLY wind whipping Teesside is set to make freezing temperatures feel even lower today, as heavy snow continues to create icy conditions on the region's roads. Graham Butler, from the Met Office in the North, said Teesside had suffered heavy snow showers overnight as the wind brought in the snow from over the North Sea. And although they can't guarantee what is yet to come - icy conditions look set to continue. He said: "There's been lots of showers coming in overnight with temperatures of minus one to minus two degrees, but with that wind there has been sever frost. "Certainly, for the next couple of days, I can't see anything changing. "We are going to continue to get snow showers and some of those could be very heavy at times. "We may get a longer spell of snow that will continue to accumulate, with maximum temperatures of plus one degree." Graham added more snow was likely overnight tonight with temperatures dropping to about minus one degree again. "With that severe frost it will be very icy again" However, he predicts a brighter Friday and weekend with some thawing of snow possible, as temperatures struggle up to two and three degrees. He said: "Let's get today and tomorrow out of the way and then we will start to see an improvement."

Winter weather forces schools to shut TOTAL of 73 schools across Teesside and 24 across Darlington closed today, after heavy overnight snowfall prompted a rethink over the safety of opening. Middlesbrough was worst hit, with 32 school closures. Redcar and Cleveland saw 28 closures and Stockton saw 12 schools close today. Middlesbrough College was among the closures today, with students being asked to stay at home, while only staff who could safely make the journey being required to turn in for work. * A full list of closed schools is available on www.gazettelive.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

GOING NOWHERE: The traffic on on Marton Road, Middlesbrough, today Picture by PETER REIMANN TREACHEROUS: The ice on Woodlands Road, Middlesbrough WHITE OUT: Traffic above on Marton Road, bottom left on Borough Road and the A66 eastbound near Teesside Park left
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Title Annotation:News; Front Page
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 1, 2010
Words:1129
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