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Warning over icy conditions after huge surge in crashes on region’s roads

PUBLISHED: 07:26 06 January 2017 | UPDATED: 12:00 06 January 2017

A car overturned in Saxlingham Nethergate yesterday. Picture Twitter/ZakNelson

A car overturned in Saxlingham Nethergate yesterday. Picture Twitter/ZakNelson

Twitter/ZakNelson

Drivers are today warned to take extra care in icy conditions after a massive spike in crashes and road-related incidents.

Between 6am and 5pm yesterday Norfolk Police were called to 75 incidents on the county’s roads, particularly in the southern areas – following temperatures dropping to -3C.

And there are forecasts of more cold nights across the region.

The majority of yesterday’s crashes occurred in South Norfolk, leading to complaints from residents about the gritting of the roads.

Inspector Jason Selvarajah said on Twitter that Norfolk Police had dealt with 40 incidents in the morning alone.

One of these occurred in Crownthorpe at 8am, where four cars crashed within 100 metres of each other at the junction of Green Lane and Hospital Road.

Three of the accidents saw the cars end up in ditches and bushes, and another vehicle then rolled and collided with one of the crashed cars.

Meanwhile the A140 at Scole was closed for a number of hours after a car ended up on its side at 7.30am.

It was one of three cars to crash on that stretch of road, and a car ended up on its roof at Saxlingham Nethergate.

South Norfolk councillor Clayton Hudson questioned why gritters were not sent out in the early hours that morning after rain fell, instead of 7pm the previous evening.

“I am very disappointed in the service provided by the Norfolk County Council Highways gritting team today,” he said.

“With the forecasting and technology available to organisations like Norfolk County Council the gritters should have been deployed prior to work and school commuting this morning.

“The council’s failure to deploy the gritters has inconvenienced many people today and stretched the resources of the emergency services in dealing with accidents and collisions. It was completely avoidable in my opinion.”

The county council said they receive and review their weather forecast at noon each day when the decision for times to grit are made.

A spokesman for the authority said: “It takes three hours to treat the 2,100 mile network. In accordance with the national guidance, the network should be treated before the formation of ice is forecast.

“This is one of the key factors in dictating the start time for gritting operations. On Wednesday night, road surface temperatures were forecast to drop below zero from around 9pm/10pm in some parts of the county, hence the 7pm start time.

“According to the detailed forecast from our weather forecast provider, there was a slight chance of a light shower with up to 0.1mm precipitation in the west of the county up to midnight. This is why we increased the planned treatment in the West of the county.

“If rain was forecast in the south of the county, then this would have affected treatments timings and the number of planned gritting runs.”

The incidents continued throughout yesterday, and an accident on the A47 resulted in one person having to be freed from their vehicle after a crash that forced the closure of the road for several hours.

It happened just before 4.55pm and involved a van and saloon car, according to Norfolk Police.

The East of England Ambulance Service attended the scene, as did crews from Dereham and Watton fire stations.

The fire crews used hydraulic rescue equipment to free the person from their vehicle.

Police were able to open the road in one direction and managed the traffic until the A47 reopened fully around 7.55pm.

Forecasters yesterday evening predicted another cold night was in store, with frost and freezing fog developing – causing hazardous conditions.

Inspector Lou Provart tweeted: “Walking on untreated paths or driving on ungritted roads can be very hazardous. Be astute.”

The spokesman for Norfolk County Council added gritting would take place on all county gritting routes yesterday evening, with a further run at 3am in the west, south, and inland north zones.

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