Gritting anger as ambulance damaged and paramedics hurt in ice chaos on Somerset road

Somerset residents have hit out at Somerset County Council after an ambulance and a fire engine were badly damaged and two paramedics hurt in an ice-related incident last week. The emergency services vehicles slid off a road near Langport after hitting black ice while responding to two other ice-related crashes at the same location on Friday (January 8). The 999 vehicles ended up colliding with each other in a stream off Westmoor Lane, Hambridge, at the same crash site they were responding to, leaving four separate vehicles stranded in the ditch.

Two paramedics were taken to hospital for a “check-over” after they were injured during the incident, a South Western Ambulance Service spokesman has revealed. Somerset residents have reacted angrily, with some asking why so many of the county’s roads are not gritted during cold spells. A total of 900 miles of road are being gritted by the council this winter, and a spokesman has said “it is just not possible for us to treat every road”.

But locals believe more should be done after witnessing similar incidents across the county over the recent cold spell, and they have been making their views known online. To get breaking news like this straight to your inbox, click here.

Black ice left a scene of destruction at Westmoor Lane, Hambridge

Leon Led labelled council decision-makers “clowns”, while Hannah McCoy wrote: “Somerset County Council perhaps you should spend some money on grit. “Most of Yeovil’s roads were not gritted on Friday (January 8).

“I saw two smashed up cars and a man who had come off his bicycle.” Amelia Marinho wrote: “Surely it would have cost less to grit the road! “We are still paying taxes through the pandemic and yet I have not seen a single gritting truck!”

Jonathon Rose wrote: “General road maintenance seems to have all but vanished this year.” The council scaled back its gritting operations as part of a swathe of budget cuts agreed in September 2018, reducing its network coverage to 720 miles. However, these cuts were reversed for the winter of 2019/20 – and every road which was treated that winter is being treated again this winter.

What the council said:

A Somerset County Council spokesman said: “Throughout the recent cold spell our gritting crews were out in many cases twice a day, sometimes late at night and again at 4.30am.

“This includes Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. “Over this period they used more than 1,500 tonnes of salt and treated more than 20,000km of our network. “However, it is just not possible for us to treat every road and Westmoor Lane is not on our precautionary network.

“Ice can still form even on treated roads so we always advise drivers to take extra care in very cold conditions, check which roads are gritted at www.travelsomerset.co.uk/gritting and follow us on Twitter – @TravelSomerset – for daily updates in winter.”

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Which roads are being gritted?

Alongside the M5 and A303 (and A36 near Frome), most major A-roads through the county are being gritted through the winter.

These include:

A smaller number of significant B-roads are also being treated, such as the B3165 near Crewkerne and the B3153 between Somerton and Castle Cary.

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