Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The cost of snow

I am sure there are more comedians who have told this joke, but I remember Tommy Cooper apologising for laughing because it was the first time that he had heard that joke. Yesterday my blog finished with the thought that funding for gritting could be linked to the cost of treating injuries caused by the ice. I know there are difficulties with this. Did this person slip on ice in their drive or on ice on the road? Would they have fallen anyway because of other factors?

The reason that I am revisiting this idea is because, like Tommy Cooper, it is the first time that I have heard the suggestion. Spmthing else made me think about it too. There was also traffic chaos yesterday which has taken up most of the news on TV and radio and one person thought the cost to his large business could run into millions of pounds. Does anyone think about this prior to the snow falling?

The cost for a lack of preparation is difficult to estimate even for something as simple as treating injuries that are caused by falls on ice. There is the cost to the NHS but there are so many other costs of social care and the cost of missing work. There are surely many other costs too. Shouldn't we be improving our preparations for snow?

Change the world


  1. Lack of preparation for snow is inevitable when local government has been treated by national giovernmemt as it has. When national governmnet sends the message down to local government "We think you're inefficient, so make cuts", this is what happens - things like preparation for snow get cut.

    It gets cut because mostly it isn't needed. Winters have been very mild almost always recently (at least where I am), so the council cuts its contigency funding in preparation for a harsh one thinking "we don't get winters like that now, it's an easy money-saving device, cut the spending on that and no-one will notice, much easier than making cuts where someone will notice".

    So, it's long gone from the yearly budget and indeed no-one noticed. Until now when we have had a bit of harder winter weather than we've had for years.

  2. For some reason the lessons of the 60s in snow clearing have been forgotten. Does anyone KNOW how to attach a snow plough?
    where I lived until I was almost 14...the council would send out the snowploughs ....BEFORE any gritting took place..and even though I lived close to one of the major routes across the Pennines...prior to the M62....traffic NEVER came to a standstill.
    Perhaops todays council workers want to teach their Grandmothers how to suck eggs?

  3. Thanks for both comments. I think that we have accepted the limitations on councils far too easily and now we have to suffer the consequences. I don't think councils think they are in a good position but my particular problem is that we hear that councils are fully prepared and then the problems of the weather dominate our news.


  4. where I lived until I was almost 14...the council would send out the snowploughs

    Er, yes, and do you know the cost of snowploughs?

    If you are fairly reliably going to get heavy snow every winter, it makes sense to invest in these things. If most winters you hardly get any snow at all, which has been the pattern at least in the south-east of England for the past 30 or 40 years, it doesn't make sense to spend money on things like that. Particularly if you're being pushed from above to make "efficiency savings". Under those circumstances, what tends to go is contingency spending for rare events.

  5. I have seen snowploughs on the news tonight Matthew. If the cost of closure to one business can run into millions of pounds then the cost of a snowplough may be nothing in comparison. My point about the cost of treating one person because they have slipped on ice is (forgive the pun) the tip of the iceberg.

    I like the story about one man using his grit bought from B&Q to keep the buses running. We should have more foresight and just because the costs to the bus company are different to those of the council, the private individual or the NHS doesn't mean that the costs are less significant.