Snow brings Liverpool to its knees

 January 5, 2010         3 Comments

I found myself describing to someone tonight how snow never seemed to be a problem, ‘when I was a lad’. Of course, this is only 20 years ago, so it seems strange in the extreme that the country just seems to stop if it snows.

Most of my working day was spent writing about how to drive in snowy conditions and how to look after your car in situations like the ones we’re currently experiencing.

From what I’ve seen no-one has read this information, as the amount of people driving with their cars covered in snow, revving their engines in low gears, peering through obscured windscreens and driving too quickly or too slowly seems to indicate that we’ve lost any kind of ability we used to have to deal with a bit of snow.

However, motorists are not being helped by Liverpool City Council at the moment. I don’t care about the stats about how much grit they’ve got, I don’t care what they say they’re doing – whatever it is, it’s not enough.

It took me about 45 minutes to drive from the city centre back to Lark Lane today, partly because Parliament Street was an ice rink. If you think about the incline on Parliament Street this clearly becomes problematic. Most cars are not equipped to go up icy hills.

Buses were abandoned, motorists stranded in their cars in the middle lane, cars losing the battle against gravity and sliding down the street backwards. Nowhere was there any evidence of gritting, or of any attempt to clear the snow. It was mayhem.

I wouldn’t normally complain about something like this – shit happens after all and services are probably strained at this time of year. But for several days before Christmas, too, Liverpool was a disaster zone. Roads and pavements alike were impassable.

On my way out of the city a bloke came around a corner too fast; with cars on either side of the road we could only brake, and looked at each other as we helplessly slid towards each other. We just about escaped unscathed

The night before I was out on Lark Lane, and saw a young woman perform one of the most acrobatic and painful-looking falls I’d ever seen. Embarrassed she dusted herself down and limped away.

I don’t know why Liverpool seems so determined to abandon its citizens to the hazards of icy roads and footpaths. The authorities have had ample warning, and there was little evidence that anything was going to be done in the several days of ice we had in December.

Who’s responsible? Local governments are responsible for everything within their boundaries beyond motorways and A roads but you could tie yourself up in knots trying to find out who the ultimate authority is.

What I do know is that Liverpool is letting its people down badly, and it’s not good enough.

Enough of that unpleasantness

Anyway, I took some photos on the trusty ancient Samsung on my trek back to my car from the business district to Jamaica Street via Liverpool One.

The first thing I noticed was how deserted Chapel Street, Rumford Street and Water Street were. It’s usually nose-to-tail at 5pm and it provided a chilling insight into what Liverpool might actually look like if the planned-for zombie apocalypse came, or England actually had an integrated transport strategy.

It wasn’t just roads either. Pavements, pubs and shops were all deserted. The occasional bus, empty and dark, passed by. Derby Square was under at least four inches of snow.

Liverpool One provided the only evidence that any effort was being made to make thoroughfares safe for pedestrians, with a path cleared and some grit on the ground.

But even here it was deserted, without even the odd snowball thrown by one of the emos that haunt the place throughout the day. The wheel was closed, with snow covering the structure.

A mate texted later on to tell me how amazing the place looked, and followed it up with another rather less cheerful text five minutes later to say he’d fallen over and had to be helped to his feet.

Jamaica Street and Park lane were treacherous underfoot, with one car stalled in the middle of the road. I stopped to help some lads push it to the side of the road.

As we did a girl was beeped, unfairly by a car that couldn’t move because of the obstruction anyway. In shock she fell over. As I continued up the road she walked behind me on the phone to a mate, recounting what had just transpired in an eee!-laden conversation so high-pitched dogs’ ears must have been pricked for miles around.

The smear of white across the left-hand side of this picture show the column of traffic moving steadily down the street, at a few miles an hour and careering wildly.

Reaching the car took 20 minutes, cleaning it off and warming the car took another ten.

Half way down Park Road a van was loaded with scallies smashing snow balls into passing cars.

A fraught drive home, full on wheelspinning, slow-motion driving and more sideway action than an episode of Top Gear followed.

On the whole I like snow, and I don’t have a lot of time for the BRITAIN LOSES £10BN BECAUSE OF SNOW headline we’ll inevitably see tomorrow.

This time last year I was out snowballing and drawing enormous snow-cocks in Sefton Park, but the flipside of it is our total inability to cope with some mildly challenging weather.

Rather than be prepared to work remotely, sort out our roads and pavements and do a bit of simple car maintenance and sensible driving we engage in this absurd ritual of crashing cars, walking through miles of freezing weather and breaking hips.

It’s symptomatic of a country that’s lost its marbles, and that’s before the sodding Tories get in. God help us.


  1. Great post and I agree with all your sentiments.

    I go to LJMU and had exams in Aintree today. I live in Allerton. The journey there around midday wasn’t too bad – no traffic and the roads seemed fairly clear although I did make a note then that nowhere seemed to have been gritted.

    Then came the journey home. Just over 90 minutes for an 8 mile journey – which seems nothing compared to some people but still – and it all stems from no gritting on Queens Drive. Queens Drive is quite a main room, which has some quite steep inclines towards the end and it was just not moving.

    Thankfully all exams are now cancelled and the snow days for me mean staying in and keeping warm.

    Best of luck to anyone who has to venture out.

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