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Residents encouraged to take extra care during severe weather

26 February 2018

With snow already falling across Medway, the council is advising motorists and residents to take extra care and to look out for their neighbours during the forecasted severe weather this week.

The Met Office has forecast icy conditions and heavy snow in the region up until Thursday, 1 March, with potential of disruption to transport networks and power outages. A level three cold weather alert has been called for the region which triggers actions in the NHS, public health, social care and other community organisations. Additional support is being provided to vulnerable people who have health, housing or economic circumstances that increase their risk of harm.

The council’s housing team will be prioritising residents who live in sheltered housing schemes and those who have been identified as vulnerable. Plans have also been put in place with the council’s contractor to ensure repairs, such as making properties safe and secure, are prioritised during the severe weather. For our own council tenants the team will be using @medwayhousingservices on Facebook to post any updates or disruption caused by the weather.  

Stay well this winter

Cold weather can be bad for your health, but there are some simple things residents can do to prepare for severe weather and keep warm and healthy:
• Make sure that you stay warm. If going outside make sure you dress appropriately. If indoors, make sure that you keep your heating to the right temperature; heating your home to at least 18°C in winter poses minimal risk to your health when you are wearing suitable clothing.
• If there is anyone you know who might be at special risk, for example, an older person living on their own, make sure they know what to do to stay warm and are well stocked with food and medications.
• If you are worried about your health or that of somebody you know, ring NHS 111

Keeping the roads moving

Dedicated winter service staff will be working around the clock this week trying to keep the main routes clear of snow and ice. Medway Council’s highways team worked throughout the night on Sunday gritting primary and secondary routes across all five towns to help keep the roads running on Monday morning in anticipation of icy conditions.

All commuters are advised to check the weather conditions and for any disruption on the roads and public transport before travelling this week. If you do have to drive during bad weather conditions, motorists are advised to be extra cautious and be mindful of black ice.

Top tips for motorists

• Make sure your windscreen is completely clear before you set off so you can easily spot any hazards on the road
• Use the highest possible gear to avoid wheel spin
• Avoid braking or accelerating sharply - If you skid, ease off the accelerator but don’t brake suddenly
• In snow or bad weather conditions, avoid driving altogether if you can

There are 455 residential salt bins across Medway and they are currently being refilled in anticipation of severe weather. Salt supplies are topped up throughout winter and should only be used to keep public footpaths safe. Residents are asked not to use community supplies for their own properties.

Additional front line staff and contractors are on standby to support the response to the forecasted weather and will be helping to clear town centres of snow and ice.

Snow wardens – community volunteers

Snow wardens, volunteers in the community, will be out and about helping to clear snow and treat footpaths. If you’d like to become a snow warden and clear footpaths close to where you live, please visit Medway Council’s website to sign up. Volunteers are allocated 25kg bag of road salt, hand spreader, snow shovel, pair of gloves and a high visibility vest.

School closures

For the latest information on school closures during severe weather conditions, please check school and academy websites. Most closures are also listed on Kent County Council's school closures page (http://www.kentclosures.co.uk/) and on local radio stations.

Rubbish collections

Residents are asked to put out their rubbish and recycling as usual this week, but to be mindful that collections may be slower due to possible icy conditions. The council’s contractor, Veolia, will be working hard to collect waste from 113,650 households across Medway during the severe weather.

Help is available to rough sleepers

The severe weather emergency protocol is in place in Medway – council staff are working with colleagues from partner agencies in the Homelessness Forum to tell as many rough sleepers as possible that accommodation is available to them. All rough sleepers in Medway are being encouraged to visit Kingsley House in Balmoral Road, Gillingham before 5.15pm where help is available. Rough sleepers who are unable to get to Kingsley House during the day will still be provided with emergency accommodation by contacting our out of hours homelessness service on 01634 304400. We work throughout the year, whatever the weather conditions, offering support services to the homeless. We offer specialist support on the issues that can cause people to become homeless, such as debts and rent arrears, and we commission a range of support and accommodation to help those who find themselves with nowhere to live.

Get updates on disruption to council services

Any disruption to services will be posted on social media:
• Twitter: @medway_council
• Facebook: @MedwayCouncilUpdates (Medway Council – service updates and information)
• For updates on disruption at sports centres, please follow @MedwaySport on Twitter or @MedwaySportOfficial on Facebook

Supporting out most vulnerable residents

Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services, Cllr Phil Filmer, said: “We have put plans are in place to help keep minimise disruption and keep as many as the council’s services open as possible. Our priority is keeping Medway’s main routes moving, as well helping our more vulnerable residents. We would also ask that residents check on their neighbours, especially the elderly and vulnerable, to check they are OK. Please tune into local radio stations and follow us on social media for updates on any disruption in Medway.”

Get more information on the council's winter response and advice in the event of severe weather.