Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fury as Snow Chaos Strikes North Roads

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fury as Snow Chaos Strikes North Roads

Article excerpt

Byline: By Neil McKay and Rhodri Phillips

Council bosses came under fire yesterday for leaving roads ungritted, causing huge tailbacks and the postponement of a Premiership football match.

Angry soccer fans were told just 25 minutes before Newcastle United's game against Charlton Athletic at St James's Park was due to kick off that it was postponed, following police advice.

The pitch was playable, but the game was cancelled on police advice because of the state of the roads in the city centre. Scotswood Road in particular was treacherous.

It followed a rush-hour blizzard that brought chaos to the region.

A furious Dave Hillcox, 43, from Whickham, Gateshead, who had intended to go to the game with his son Christopher, 13, said: "The city council knew 50,000 people were due to come to St James's Park tonight yet the roads were in a dreadful state, like sheets of ice in some parts of Newcastle."

And Sheila Tucker, 72, from Maidstone, Kent, who had flown to Newcastle to watch Charlton, the team she has supported for 60 years, said: "We were in our seats, the pitch was green, the players were practising on it, yet the game is called off because of the condition of the roads around the stadium. It is an absolute disgrace and does no credit to the city of Newcastle."

Tailbacks developed in Newcastle as commuters attempting to leave the city and football fans trying to enter were locked in jams, most noticeably on Scotswood Road.

Newcastle City Council general manager (cleansing and transport) Rob Nicholls said last night: "Nobody had contacted me or the duty manager to say that the football match at St James's Park had been cancelled.

"Our team inspected the city at 4pm and found that all arterial, primary and secondary routes were up and running. The roads had previously been gritted but unfortunately was unable to disperse the congested snow because of icy conditions. …

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