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Day of snow chaos forces 200 schools to close
A blanket of snow created treacherous road conditions and forced the closure of more than 200 schools in the district yesterday, including many in the Aire Valley, Keighley and Wharfedale.
Commuters were left stranded and some motorists were forced to abandon their cars because of the hazardous road conditions.
Bradford Council said its gritters would be out clearing primary routes in the district overnight, carrying out another full patrol and clearing pavements at 5am this morning, with more light flurries forecast by the Met Office today.
Schools cited hazardous conditions, teachers being unable to get to work and fears for the health and safety of their pupils for being forced to shut yesterday, although many high schools remained open to students sitting vital GCSE and A-Level exams. Many said they hoped to be able to reopen today.
Titus Salt School, in Baildon, Beckfoot School, in Bingley, and Bingley Grammar School were among those partially closed yesterday, although pupils due to sit external exams were told they must still attend.
Bradford University’s city campus and School of Management, as well as its library and sports facilities, were closed due to the weather.
Leeds Bradford Airport closed for a short period of time while snow was cleared from its runway, but bosses advised passengers to check on the status of their flights before travelling today.
Yesterday also saw many bus services suspended or altered to serve main roads only as more than 8ins of snow fell in some areas of the district.
West Yorkshire Metro’s website was down for parts of the day as commuters logged on to check whether their services were running.
A spokesman said it believed all services were reinstated by yesterday afternoon, although only on main roads, but missing stops on estates.
The Highways Agency and West Yorkshire Police warned those who did choose to drive to take extra care and make sure snow was cleared from their vehicles before setting off.
Accountant Helen Swain, 47, of Bradford Moor, told how she had used a shovel to get her car off her drive for her morning commute into the city centre, but had been forced to abandon it because of heavy snow.
Some businesses in the area suffered the impact of the snowfall, with members of staff unable to travel to work.
One of those was Bradford’s WH Smith’s in the Kirkgate Shopping Centre, which was unable to open yesterday because workers were unable to travel in.
A WH Smith’s spokesman said: “We did everything possible to try and open today and apologise to customers.
“We hope to open again as soon as possible.”
But while the snow meant delays for commuters it brought joy to thousands of schoolchildren across the area who were treated to an unexpected day off.
In Keighley, children in Broomhill created a snow family, including Freddie Frost and his mum and dad.
The girls who created the snow family live in Upper Hird Street and are Molly Boulby, Charley Westhuizen, Brogan Westhuizen, Summer Westhuizen and Aimee Westhuizen.
The heavy snow has also forced the postponement of several meetings.
Council chairman, Councillor John Huxley, said in addition to the council members affected by the snow, another member was ill and another councillor was recovering from a broken leg.
“This is the meeting where we set the precept, and we need at least five councillors there to make it happen,” he said. He added that the date for the rescheduled meeting has still to be confirmed.
Meanwhile, Peter Allen’s illustrated talk on Italian Tenors, arranged by Skipton Italian Circle and due to take place at Skipton Town Hall on Thursday, has also been cancelled because of the wintry weather.
The district’s largest social housing landlord Incommunities said the wintry weather had sparked a flurry of calls about boiler repairs, with its gas servicing contractor, Lovell Respond, last night claiming it expected to receive 200 calls by the end of the day.
A spokesman said its repairs team had responded to a number of emergency calls on foot to reach elderly and vulnerable people where the dangerous conditions had restricted vehicle access to their homes.
Jez Lester, Incommunities assistant chief executive for asset management, said: “Incommunities repairs teams and Lovell Respond have been working extremely hard responding to reports from customers over the past few days.
“Today, a number of staff from our repairs service have also worked with our estate teams to help clear snow from around some of our high rise blocks and sheltered schemes.”
Bradford Council said bin collections which were due to take place yesterday because they had been missed in bad weather last Friday had also been affected.
A Council spokesman said its waste collection service would assess conditions at 5am today.
He added: “The weather conditions will impact on this week's collections, especially on side roads and back streets.
“Residents can help by placing their bins on the nearest main road, where possible, as this would help with collections.
“Gritters will be working hard to clear main roads and street cleansing crews will also be gritting parts of the district.”
Other council services, including its mobile library, were hit, while all sports centres and swimming pools closed early at 5pm, with all swimming and coaching sessions cancelled.
The Met Office yesterday said Bingley recorded 17cm of snow. Its forecast for today says snowfall is expected to end at around 9am, when conditions are expected to become misty and foggy.
An amber weather warning remains in place for the whole of Yorkshire and the Humber – urging people to be prepared and to expect icy conditions today.
Any Incommunities customers who need to report a home repair should call (01274) 257003 or 0845 2998556 for boiler repairs.