Snow brings more chaos to North Devon

As more snow falls, police warn drivers not to travel unless absolutely necessary

HEAVY snow this morning Monday has once again turned North Devon into a picture postcard but brought more disruption to commuters, Christmas shoppers and those trying to get away for the festive season.

Some main roads are passable with care, but police have warned motorists not to travel “unless their journey is critical.”

The A361 North Devon Link Road is closed in both directions between Tiverton and the Chaddiford Lane junction because of ice and snow. Police described the road as “particularly treacherous.”

“The road network is treacherous throughout the county and as soon as vehicles reach any kind of incline they will be in difficulty,” Superintendent Nigel Boulton.

“The police, Highways Agency and Devon County Council have all been working together throughout the night and into the early hours and we are continuing to prioritise clearing major routes and ensuring those in an emergency can receive the help they need.”

Untreated roads and minor routes over higher ground are still treacherous and impassable for normal vehicles.

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This morning’s snowfall was compounded by that which fell on Friday night and into Saturday, followed by freezing temperatures in Saturday night, when minus six degrees centigrade was recorded at the weather station at Chivenor.

The whiteout has seen communities cut off and many people unable to make their way to work.

Staff at North Devon District Hospital are among them, causing all outpatients appointments to be cancelled, apart from some children’s and ante-natal services. Elective surgery has also been severely reduced.

As well as struggling to get staff into the hospital, Northern Devon Healthcare Trust is also calling for help in getting them home again.

Anyone who has a 4x4 vehicle and could help out is asked to call the hospital switchboard (01271) 322577 or e-mail:

South Western Ambulance Service urges people to stay home, stay safe and only call 999 for life threatening emergencies such as chest pain, serious bleeding, breathing difficulties and choking.

Ken Wenman, chief executive of the ambulance service said: “The ambulance service is on major incident standby, which means cancellation of all non- urgent patient transport services. The focus of our efforts for today will be on reaching patients with life threatening emergencies.

“Staff are doing a magnificent job of reaching patients calling for help, in what can only be described as some of the most treacherous driving conditions ever faced by the service.

“The Trust is well prepared for responding to around 1,200 to 1,400 calls every 24hrs. However, this does not necessarily mean an ambulance response as many 999 callers only require routine medical advice or signposting to more appropriate health services.

Sources of help for non emergencies include:

• NHS Choose Well website;

• NHS Direct on 0845 46 47;

• Local chemists and pharmacies;

• Local GP surgeries.

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