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23 December 2010

Snowed-in Brits left on ice as forward thinking French stir the grit

Regular readers of my rants will know exactly how I feel about the pathetic British mentality that anything thought up by foreigners can't be any good.

When will we ever accept that theold Empire is dead and buried? And has been so for the last 50 years, even if the Beatles did rule the world for a while.

The reality of the 21st century  is that the entrepreneurial wheels have dropped off in the UK and that the Europeans have come up with a lot we can learn from. OK, they have no idea how to run their economies - but there again our lot are also a load of bankers.

I've written before about Spain's clever idea of filter lanes in the centre of main roads to allow traffic on side roads to ease onto main carriageways with the minimum of disruption.

Well, I've now discovered that the French (and I bet they are not the only ones) have mastered the art of clearing ALL roads of snow and ice in the current arctic conditions with no more grit than the poverty-screaming British have.

They simply grit the SIDE roads - and leave local residents' cars to drag it onto the main roads, where the flood of  heavy traffic melts away the residue.

I was told about the French idea last week by a Manchester taxi driver, whose wife is une femme francaise.
And he assured me: ''The idea works, believe me. I've been there and seen it.''

My local council in Bury, Lancashire took pride in announcing in their 'Our Voice' magazine that they had prepared for another bad winter by putting aside an extra 500 tonnes of salt plus 300 salt bins after being caught short by the bitter freeze-up 12 months ago.

But what did they do to make the borough's snowbound pavements usable by the elderly and handicapped - surely a far more important issue? The answer is absolutely zilch!

And spread any grit, salt or whatever on the side roads? Not likely. My street, a leafy cul-de-sac, is on a gradient that makes it impossible for those at the top to access their homes by car when we are snowed up - unless they have a four-wheel drive vehicle. And the chances of safely negotiating the two streets between us and the main road diminish in proportion to the depth of snow.

I'd never really thought about the French idea before but it would certainly be  a godsend in my locality (on my increasingly rarer visits to the UK, that is). The traffic is so heavy on the main A56  Manchester-Bury road that it would take an avalanche to cause any major problem, even without gritting.

And dithering dodderers like myself wouldn't have to spend days at home afraid to go out in case we fall over and break our necks.