UPDATE from Wiltshire Police: ‘We believe everyone stranded on the A303 has now been rescued by our officers. If you are still stranded and we haven’t reached you, call 101. The road remains closed.’
UPDATE: Police in Wiltshire declared a major incident due to the adverse weather conditions. A 303 closed eastbound at Mere.
Following heavy snowfall overnight, the police message to Wiltshire residents is: please stay at home today unless your journey is absolutely critical.
Many roads, including some major routes, have been left completely impassable following the severe weather conditions and despite the advice issued by police and partner agencies, many people have continued to attempt to travel.
Officers have been extremely busy throughout the day attending calls regarding jack-knifed lorries and abandoned vehicles, as well as drivers whose vehicles had become stranded on the A303 and the A346.
The A303 is currently closed eastbound at Mere, however traffic on the rest of the A303 is now moving thanks to the assistance of Wiltshire Council.
Those stranded on the A346 between Swindon and Marlborough were rescued and initially moved to a nearby village hall; they are now being taken by bus to Swindon. Volunteers from the Red Cross have been assisting at the location. The A350, another major route through Mere, is currently closed.
Please keep updated with which routes are affected here – https://www.wiltshire.police.uk/article/649/Road-closures
Superintendent Phil Staynings said: ‘We are urging people not to travel unless is it absolutely crucial you do so.
‘If you have to go out, please make sure you leave plenty of time, take necessary supplies and always let someone know where you are going and how long you expect to be.
‘We are doing all that we can to ensure the safety of residents in Wiltshire and as you can imagine, our officers and call handlers, are currently extremely busy.
‘With these severe weather conditions, it’s also really important to check on elderly or vulnerable neighbours to make sure they are ok. Keep up to date with our social media and website for road closures throughout the day.’
A spokesman for Wiltshire Council said: ‘We cannot stress enough that people should not attempt to drive today.
‘Do not travel unless absolutely critical as emergency services are working hard to rescue people who are trapped in their vehicles. Stay at home, keep warm and check on vulnerable neighbours. We are gritting roads, but are concentrating our resources on the strategic routes in the county. More details about that and our services affected: http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/news/articles/taking-care-in-colder-weather.’
A spokesman for South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘All of our staff and volunteers are working extremely hard during the severe weather we are experiencing across the south west with many going above and beyond the call of duty to keep our patients safe. The weather has caused an extra strain on all emergency services but we are well prepared and have plans in place to deal with the extra demand. So far this week the 999 ambulance service has dealt with more than 10,000 incidents and that number will continue to rise as we head in to the weekend.
‘The Trust has been able to utilise its fleet of 4×4 vehicles and we are also grateful to the many members of the public and emergency services colleagues who have offered their 4×4 vehicles to help us bring staff in to work and help us to reach some of the most isolated patients.
‘As the cold weather continues we would urge people to only travel if it is absolutely essential, many routes across the south west will not be passable due to the snow and freezing rain. Please don’t put yourself in unnecessary danger and please help our staff reach those in the most critical need by only calling 999 in an emergency.’
Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service Area Manager Gus Cuthbert said: ‘We would encourage anyone using additional or alternative heating sources during this period of cold weather to ensure they are fit for purpose and safe.
‘Due to the weather conditions it might take our crews longer to reach you, so it is vitally important that the public stay safe as well as staying warm.’
A spokesman from the Environment Agency said: ‘We will issue flood alerts and warnings as needed so please check www.gov.uk/check-flood-risk for the latest advice or call 0345 988 1188. We work with the Met Office to monitor the impact of snow as it thaws. A steady melt will mean it’s absorbed into rivers, streams and the ground, which won’t increase the risk of river or surface water flooding. If the situation changes, we will issue flood alerts and warnings as needed so please check for advice at www.gov.uk/check-flood-risk or call 0345 988 1188.’
A spokesperson for NHS England said: ‘We would advise anyone who is worried about an urgent medical condition to dial 111 to speak to a fully trained advisor who will be able to connect you to a nurse, emergency GP or dentist. However please be aware that you may need to wait longer than normal at this busy time. For non urgent conditions please ring your GP.’
Please only call 999 in an emergency and 101 to report non-urgent matters, say police.
Keep an eye on the rolling news feed here: https://www.wiltshire.police.uk/article/649/Road-closures
UPDATE: From Wiltshire Police: ‘A303 – a number of vehicle are still stuck between Chicklade and Willoughby Hedge. We’re working with our partners to get to anyone who is stranded as soon as possible.’
Wiltshire Police are urging residents in Wiltshire to stay at home today and only make journeys that are absolutely necessary.
Their call handlers have received numerous calls overnight regarding blocked roads, jack-knifed lorries and abandoned vehicles following heavy snowfall since yesterday afternoon.
The A303 and the A346 are some of the worst affected roads in the county. Officers are trying to reach those drivers on the A303 with assistance from Wiltshire Council, while volunteers from the Red Cross have been assisting on the A346 by transporting drivers to the nearby service station and providing food, drink and blankets.
Wiltshire Police are updating their website throughout the day with live updates regarding road closures and are urging residents to keep an eye on the rolling news feed here: www.wiltshire.police.uk/article/649/Road-closures
Currently (9.30am), the below roads are affected:
A345 Old Sarum – Amesbury closed
A4361 Wroughton – Avebury vehicle abandoned in snow.
A346 Beckhampton closed.
A number of vehicles currently stuck on the A345 near High Post. This includes several jack knifed lorries. – Longhead Road to Highpost is closed
A303 between Mere and Chicklade Willoughby Edge service station area road is blocked.
The Royal Wootton Bassett Brinkworth Road has a Jack knifed articulated vehicle in the road – please avoid the area.
A HGV has jack knifed on the M4 between junction 15 to Membury Services.
The A346 Chisledon – Marlborough. Road blocked and we are trying to clear the road and transport stranded drivers to the service station.
A4361 Wroughton to Avebury is impassable.
The A338 at East Grafton is currently unpassable – snow has been blown onto the road from surrounding fields during the night
A lorry is currently jack knifed on the A342 at Ludgershall, just past Shaw Hill. The road is blocked
The Alton Barnes area between Pewsey and Devizes is currently blocked due to abandoned vehicles.
Superintendent Phil Staynings said: ‘We are doing all that we can to ensure the safety of residents in Wiltshire and as you can imagine, our officers and call handlers, are currently extremely busy.
‘We are urging residents to only leave home if absolutely necessary and if you are heading out, please make sure you leave plenty of time, take necessary supplies and always let someone know where you are going and how long you expect to be.
‘With these severe weather conditions, it’s also really important to check on elderly or vulnerable neighbours to make sure they are ok.
‘Keep up to date with our social media and website for road closures throughout the day.’
Call 101 to report any information or call 999 in an emergency.