Shops closed but the return of traditional policing(February 07, 2009)
THE bitter February winter continued well into Friday which became a day when businesses in Warminster took sensible decisions to value the safety of staff against profits, writes Paul Macdonald.
At the beginning of the day the main road into Kilmington had been declared a no go area to motorists.
This was added to the list of dilemmas facing shop owners whose workers and themselves as the roads around Warminster were blocked either by too much snow or stranded vehicles on slippery slopes.
More than a dozen retailers did not open on what is traditionally the busiest day of the week. A book shop, pet shop, drapery, estate agent, toy shop, cycle shop and cafe were amongst those who were not open for business as usual.
Some of those that did open closed early so staff could get home before the next band of bad weather arrived especially as the their potential customers decided to give the town a miss.
Ironically, the empty car park which charges motorists to park next to the Avenue School saw the van man who empties the meter turn up.
As the deep snow turned to sludge giving so much potential water laying about many residents and motorists were bracing themselves to face potential flooding or another major problem.
One police officer patrolling in Wiltshire in the early evening was the first to recognise the problem and was trying to alert the local council about a massive sheet of ice in the town he was patrolling.
In Warminster the splosh of the slush was rapidly being turned into a crunch underfoot as a starlit night brought on the next hazard to life and limb - a big freeze.
The police were gaining nothing but plaudits from the public, Usually chastised for issuing speeding tickets and running government campaigns against motorists they showed their traditional worth.
"I have nothing but praise for the police," said one woman motorist. "I was trying to get home from working in Warminster until the early hours of the morning. I knew it was going to be a difficult journey to my home in Midsomer Norton."
"The officer flashed me to stop and told me how dangerous the next steep hill was. He told me to drive down in first gear, use minimal pressure on the throttle, and try not to use the brake. It worked!"
"I wish I had thought about getting his name so I could write or ring and thank him. I got home safely. Thanks"
As Friday night wore on the police were adding more and more warnings about dangerous icing on their beats across the county.
From Willoughby Hedge to Wootten Bassett, Mere to Kilmington, Westbury to Warminster, police officers were braving the elements to ensure the safety of the public.
And to round off the demands on their time a tanker became stuck on a hill on the B3092 at Maiden Bradley at 9pm closing the road leaving motorists to try and find another more trickier way home.