I was resigned to the snow disrupting things for another few days yet, so it’s a surprise to see it’s nearly all gone.
In fact, I was taken aback just how the picture changed by travelling a very short distance – much of Greenwich seemed to avoid the worst of the first fall of snow, while a whole mile up the hill, we in Charlton had a good couple of inches.
By the end of the week, I reckon we were wading through six inches in SE7 – but just a few miles away in Chislehurst, it was just short of a foot.
The snow remained a south/south-east London phenomenon – travelling into central London yesterday, it seemed to vanish as soon as the train crossed Tower Bridge Road; coming home late last night, it suddenly appeared travelling over Blackheath.
All of which factors can make it hard for big organisations to deal with the snow. I didn’t get out and about much, but Greenwich Council seemed to do a pretty good job – although I should point out I live in one of the few side roads which gets gritted. But there’s annoying idiosyncrasies which never seem to be fixed when it snows – the lack of gritting around Charlton station is one (which I know for a fact has been pointed out to the council) and the strange lack of grit on the steep railway bridge on Victoria Way, even though the roads (and, unusually, a pavement) had been gritted on both sides.
And that’s the problem – the attitude feels very “we know what’s good for you” and requests to get certain bits done feel like they’ll hit a brick wall. It’s not just Greenwich – it seems to be a more general issue with local government whenever snow falls.
In the Southeastern post earlier, I mentioned this piece about how train companies could benefit from a more collaborative approach to passengers when there’s disruption. Perhaps councils could do the same – openly asking for suggestions of what should be gritted, and publishing them. The tools are there – heavens, Greenwich now has its own Facebook page.
Of course it’s tough and resources are stretched, but often local residents will know better than a council manager based in a distant depot. Maybe even dishing out the odd bag of grit would enable people to pitch in with a DIY solution. While I think Greenwich does a good job (certainly better than the ice rinks of Bexley, from what I’ve heard), a few imaginative solutions could make it a great job.