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How Medway tackled the Beast from the East

13 March 2018

The Beast from the East has left its mark on Medway, with dozens of potholes opening up across the five towns, but Medway Council has already surveyed the damage and carried out a number of repairs.

The unprecedented freezing temperatures had an unavoidable effect on roads across the UK. As soon as the snow and ice had thawed, the council’s highways team immediately travelled around Medway’s main roads and those linking residential estates to survey the condition of the roads, and they have already arranged for 465 potholes to be repaired.

Medway’s highways team surveys the condition of the roads throughout the year. Following the recent adverse weather, the team is  monitoring road conditions across Medway and would encourage residents to continue to report any potholes. 

Keeping Medway moving

The team spread 1,600 tonnes of salt on Medway’s primary and secondary routes during the snowy conditions, between Monday, 26 February and Saturday, 3 March, to help keep Medway moving. A designated team of staff also worked around the clock to continuously refill the 455 residential salt bins across Medway, which emptied just as quickly as they were filled.

Snow wardens - volunteers in the community - did a fantastic job at keeping footpaths clear of snow and ice in communities across Medway. However, conditions proved difficult for Veolia staff who suspended waste and recycling collections due to safety reasons after staff fell on icy footpaths in side roads. Waste and recycling collections resumed on Monday, 5 March and brown bin collections resumed on Monday, 12 March. Last week they collected 1,867 tonnes of refuse and 581 tonnes of recycling, an increase of 756 tonnes and 228 tonnes, respectively, compared to collections before the snow.

With snow ploughs and gritters helping to keep Medway moving, the council used 4x4 vehicles to take social care staff to check on those living in sheltered housing schemes, as well as the area’s most vulnerable residents. Council staff also teamed up with colleagues from Medway Norse and volunteers for South East 4x4 Response to take stranded health care professionals to the hospital and drop off food to care homes which had deliveries cancelled. The council also contacted private care homes to offer assistance in gritting their footpaths and car parks, and took tonnes of salt to Medway Maritime Hospital to help with their efforts to keep the car park and footpaths clear of ice. Officers from greenspaces, street cleansing and parking services also helped to grit areas around GP practices and town centres.

Ensuring vulnerable residents were supported

Medway Council prioritised its efforts on ensuring the most vulnerable residents were supported, with many staff volunteering to help colleagues provide vital support during the difficult conditions. Staff contacted people living in sheltered housing schemes, as well as known vulnerable residents. Some residents couldn’t be reached on the telephone and so staff offered to walk to properties to check on them.

Kingsley House in Gillingham, which offers advice on a range of topics, remained open each day and staff prioritised support for rough sleepers and emergency cases. Rough sleepers who were unable to get to Kingsley House during the week were still offered the opportunity of seeking help through an out of hours homelessness service. We continued to offer support, advice and assistance to those who contacted the out of hours service on Friday evening and throughout the weekend. 

Council staff worked hard to keep services open with many facilities being opened every day, such as libraries, community hubs, sports centres and Medway Adult Education Centres in Rochester and Gillingham. Civil enforcement officers put down their ticket devices to instead pick up a shovel to help clear snow from disabled car parks, disabled ramps, the road and footway from Military Road into the Pentagon, as well as Chatham bus station.

After being made aware of snow drifts in the Hoo peninsula, winter vehicles were immediately sent to the area to help clear roads. As part of the council’s plan in responding to adverse weather, farmers were equipped with snow ploughs they could attach to the front of their tractors to help clear rural roads in their communities.

'I am proud to be a Medway resident'

Leader of Medway Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett, said: “Council staff showed their commitment to supporting communities across Medway, with many walking to work to keep public facilities open and some offering to help colleagues who provided vital services to our most vulnerable residents.
“I’d also like to personally thank the local farmers who worked with our winter crews to clear snow drifts in the Hoo peninsula. Organisations and volunteers worked together to help keep Medway moving and to continue providing support to our most vulnerable residents. Many staff worked around the clock to provide support to communities across Medway and I am proud to be a Medway resident knowing the efforts made to help those most in need.”