UK Weather: Britain shivers on coldest night of the year
‘We’re NOT child minders!’: Teachers’ union backs headteachers amid parents’ fury as hundreds of schools shut for a SECOND day more than 48 hours after snow fell while Britain shivers in lows of -13C
Many pupils at the school in Brighton, East Sussex, are now being forced to walk to and around school in just jumpers
Parents have been left furious today as hundreds of schools remained shut for a second day following Britain’s coldest night of the year so far after temperatures fell to -13C.
Snow left more than 2,300 schools closed yesterday and wreaked havoc on the UK’s roads and transport networks after more than a foot of the white stuff fell in some areas, leading to a chaotic ‘Black Monday’.
In Brighton, parents slammed a school after they were told children could not wear their own winter coats – despite sub-zero temperatures. Many are now being forced to walk to and around school in just jumpers.
The parents claim Patcham High School are forcing them to buy flimsy, school-issue jackets for the winter, and any other coats worn at school will be confiscated.
More than 48 hours after the heaviest snow fell, scores of schools across the country are closed for a second day as the cold weather, which left the UK chillier than Moscow where temperatures fell to just -4C (30F), continues to cause disruption.
Campaign groups for parents said the decision to close so many schools was ‘frankly ridiculous’ – but union leaders defended the decision to close en masse, saying teachers faced an impossible task.
Graham White, of the National Education Union, said: ‘Headteachers are in an impossible situation, open and risk injury to staff or pupils, or close and risk the wrath of parents who now have their children at home.
‘Schools are for education, not child-minding. It is very unfortunate that parents are inconvenienced by snow and school closures, but safety is paramount.’
In Brighton, Kerri Barnes-Dredge, 41, says her Year 11 daughter is being made to take her own coat off at the gates of the school. The mother-of-four, who works for a housing association, says her girl already has two ‘perfectly decent’ winter coats, and is reluctant to pay £32 for something which will only be used for a couple of months.
Colmore Junior School in Birmingham is among the hundreds of schools that remain closed in Britain today
Blackwood Primary School near Cardiff, which is one of hundreds of schools to have been shut across the country
She said: ‘They’re trying to make us buy these new coats but it’s pointless – my daughter has two already and she’s only there for a few more months. The kids can wear other coats to the gates but if they’re on show on school grounds, their coats are confiscated until the end of the day.
‘If there are fire alarms, they’re not allowed to put a coat on unless it’s the school one, and that has happened while it’s been cold. If her coat was confiscated, my daughter wouldn’t have time to collect it until the end of the day, when she has to be at the bus stop on time – otherwise I’d have to drive and collect her.
‘This is leaving kids without coats and I don’t know what to do about it really, it’s ridiculous. There are two available – a wintery one and a rain jacket – and we went into the school to complain but they told us ‘tough, that’s our rules’.
‘My youngest son would like to go to that school and no problem if they’re just starting, but when you’re talking a few months it’s pointless. My daughter has a hacking cough and this will make it worse, it’s freezing. She already has a bag with all her school stuff, another one with her PE kit, and a third with her bulky coat in just isn’t plausible.
‘One of her friends actually bought a blanket in and walked through the gates with three of them wrapped in it so they wouldn’t get cold.’
A padded coat from the school’s approved retailer costs £32, a mid-range waterproof coat with a fleece is £28 and and a ‘lightweight’ rain coat costs £14.90. But headteacher John McKee has hit back at parents, and says the policy is a form of ‘poverty proofing’ which helps children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
He claims the cost of uniform remains one of the cheapest in city, even with the added cost of a coat. The headmaster, who has run the school since last year, said: ‘The reason we’ve done this is because we want all students to be equal.
‘It’s part of our school values and we don’t want any pupil to stand out because they’re wearing a different type of coat. It’s an extension of our existing uniform policy, we want to support students so nobody feels isolated because they can’t afford a designer jacket.
Parents and schools discussed the closures on Twitter today, with many children having a second day with no lessons
‘It’s about poverty proofing – we don’t want to exclude children from a disadvantaged background and we don’t want any children to be singled out for that.
‘Children were never allowed students to wear outside jackets within the school anyway, they always had to remove them inside buildings, and now they just have to take them off at the gate and put them in their bag.
‘Everything I do here is in the children’s best interest – there are always going to be gaps in whatever inform we enforce, and we’re trying to mitigate against anything that’s going to make a child feel uncomfortable. If a child is outside and they’re cold, they need to wear a coat.
‘I haven’t got any hard evidence, but there are many children who have chosen not to wear coats, whether school coats or not, for years and I do feel that some kids weren’t wearing them because didn’t have the ‘right’ coat.
‘We are trying to help and support the pupils and make a positive difference to their lives.’
But angry parents have taken to social media to blast the school. Elaine McCullock said: ‘What a ridiculous policy. Money is tight for all parents, so to buy multiple coats is too much to ask.
‘The coat they wear will not have any impact on their education, which is what they are at school for.’
Kate Cohen added: ‘My children go here and I’ve had to buy them the school coats. It’s ridiculous as they needed new coats anyway for outside school as they won’t wear the school ones out. It’s cost me over £120 for four coats.’
The bright blue in this map shows the current coverage of lying snow across parts of Scotland, England and Wales
Good morning, a very cold start, with severe frost, ice and some freezing fog patches which will be slow to clear. Otherwise bright for many, but turning cloudier and windier in the west with rain and hill snow arriving later. https://t.co/buNIH9sWMC ^Patrick pic.twitter.com/z7KA1law3Y
— Met Office (@metoffice) December 12, 2017
It is a bitterly #cold start this morning. Get the scrapers ready and allow extra time for your journey, as there will be a widespread #frost and stretches of #ice around pic.twitter.com/u3MPK6zEL4
— Met Office (@metoffice) December 12, 2017
Highways England has been working to keep motorways and major A-roads clear of snow and ice. It said thousands of tonnes of salt has been spread on the M5, M6, M40, M42, M69, and the A5 and A49, with gritting crews also targeting the M1
Samantha Fellingham said: ‘I think the head of Patcham needs to re-review this ludicrous idea. What parent can afford two coats – one for school and one outside of school?
‘Maybe if that is the case he makes arrangements for the children to be equipped with his idea and the school pays towards it (can’t see that happening).
Weather warnings for snow and ice are in place until 11am today covering large parts of the UK, including London
‘Also if the teachers don’t agree with the idea of having the school coats then what hope is there that the idiot of a headmaster can make this decision?
‘No other schools do this so why should he dictate this? His head needs his head looking at, I’d like to see him in the school coat.’
Nearly 80 schools are listed as closed in Staffordshire, with many citing untreated paths and fears that snow will have compacted into ice as reasons for keeping the gates closed.
Gloucestershire, which saw around 200 schools closed yesterday, will have 80 schools closed today, while more than 90 will be closed in neighbouring Herefordshire.
Pupils at 123 primary schools and 25 secondary schools in Shropshire will have a second day off owing to the weather, while in Wales hundreds of schools will be shut today, with Caerphilly and Powys particularly affected.
Campaigners claimed schools in Britain are closing too easily in the modern day. Margaret Morrissey, of campaign group Parents Outloud, said: ‘I think the schools are too quick to close, it is the easy option.
‘I am of the older generation, and went to school in the 40s and 50s in the East Midlands, where we had a lot of snow, and I don’t think I can remember having one day off because of the weather.
‘Parents have to take a day off or find child care. I understand that in some rural areas where it is really bad, it would be dangerous.
‘But I think the decision to close all of the schools in a city as big as Birmingham is quite frankly ridiculous. What would happen if countries like Russia did this? Their children would never get an education.’
Craig Langman, from Parents Want A Say, said headteachers have ‘double standards’ by stopping parents taking their children out of lessons in term time – but shutting schools following a ‘small blanket of snow’.
He told the Daily Telegraph: ‘When I was a child you had to have snow up to your waist before you would shut the school down. Their comeback will be ‘yes, it’s Health and Safety’.’
Frozen River Thames evokes memories of frost fairs
It hasn’t happened in a significant way for more than 200 years.
But today the Thames has frozen over once again – albeit only in a section of the river in Oxfordshire.
Astonishing photographs emerged today of the mighty river iced over at Osney Mead in Oxford during the night.
Part of the River Thames covered with ice at Benson Lock in Oxfordshire, as Britain had its coldest night of the year
It evoked memories of winters long ago when it was so perishing that people used to skate on the Thames.
The Thames has frozen over at least 23 times since the 1300s, with the last occurrence in 1814.
In the past a number of festivals known as the River Thames Frost Fairs sprang up on the river.
The period from the mid-14th to 19th century in Europe was known as the ‘Little Ice Age’ due to the severity of the climate.
A dog walker crosses the weir as the sun rises over the River Thames at Benson Lock in Oxfordshire this morning
And when the conditions were right, Londoners headed onto the river in celebration.
The first recorded frost fair took place until 1608, although the Thames had frozen over several times in the 16th century.
It is said Henry VIII travelled all the way from Central London to Greenwich by sleigh along the river in the winter of 1536.
Elizabeth I is also thought to have taken walks on the ice during the winter of 1564. The last frost fair was held in 1814.
It took place from February 1 to 5, and the ice was so thick at the time that an elephant crossing was held at Blackfriars.
All council-run schools in Birmingham were shut yesterday following the hazardous conditions, but the blanket closure is not in force for today.
Writing on Twitter yesterday, Matt, from Birmingham, said: ‘So today I lost five hours of work because I had to drop and pick up my daughter from her mates.
‘All because of a bit of snow Birmingham Council said was really bad. Children lose a day of education and us parents, most of us, lose a lot of money because of a dumb decision.’
Man rescued in 80ft fall from Snowdon ridge
A man has been winched aboard a coastguard rescue helicopter after being injured in an 80ft fall from a frozen Snowdon ridge.
Rescuers trekked through snow and cloud to the summit of Garnedd Ugain to find him
Llanberis mountain rescue team was called out to the man who had back, leg and head injuries after the plunge on Crib y Ddysgl last night.
An app was used to find his location and rescuers trekked through snow and cloud to the summit of Garnedd Ugain and down the ridge to him.
He was treated for his injuries and sledged down the peak on a stretcher, then winched into a helicopter.
The man was flown to hospital at Bangor. The rescue took five hours and involved 16 rescue team volunteers.
Gill Aldous, from Sutton Coldfield, added: ‘Birmingham appears to be paralysed. Schools are closed, refuse collection is off, hospitals are cancelling anything not urgent and buses and trains are running sporadic services. Time to put the heating on and play some music I think.’
Lesley Taylor said: ‘I live in Birmingham and not only have the schools closed, there are no buses running in my part of the city so we are totally cut off. My son’s school is four miles from where we live.
‘The council has not gritted anywhere near us and they have also cancelled the bin collections.
‘So instead of having a go at us parents and teachers, have a go at Birmingham City Council because they are the ones that have let the roads get icy.
‘None of us want to be cut off from the rest of the city and I am sure the teachers want to teach today but if there is no way to get there then they can’t attend and neither can the children.’
Meanwhile a Tory council leader has come under fire from parents for criticising the closure of schools because of the snow, saying there were ‘no excuses’.
Conservative leader of Swindon Council David Renard tweeted: ‘There are no excuses that so many Swindon schools are closed when the roads are perfectly passable, causing huge inconvenience to parents.’
More than 30 schools around the Wiltshire town were closed yesterday amid staff shortages in the cold snap. But the comment from the leader of Swindon Borough Council drew a flurry of criticism from parents.
Twitter user Mrs W Tutus said: ‘Shame on you for publicly judging them for making what they felt was the best/safest decision for ALL their students and staff.
‘Perhaps you should try walking to some of the local primaries (as so many parents have no choice but to do) and see how judgemental you feel then…’
Mr Renard, who said his priority was ‘the best interests of the children and parents’, wrote back: ‘So why are so many Wiltshire schools still open?’
Another Twitter user, Sarah Fenwick, wrote: ‘Huge inconvenience to parents? But schools are not a childcare facility. The safety of children and staff is more important.
‘I don’t think one day is going to affect their education. The teachers don’t take these decisions lightly and I’m sure they would much rather be open.’
Mr Renard responded: ‘Of course safety is paramount but you can’t get an education if you’re not at school and plenty of other schools have opened. The weather is going to be much worse tonight so I expect they’ll be closed again tomorrow.’
And a third Twitter user called Colin P also slammed the councillor, writing: ‘Wow – every time I think you can’t be more short-sighted David, you go out of your way to prove me wrong.’
Labour rival Jim Robbins said: ‘I was very surprised to see David Renard’s tweet. I know how much headteachers and senior staff struggle over these tough decisions.
‘They have to weigh up the chances of staff coming in from long distances, how icy the schools and paths may be, and will there be sufficient numbers of staff available to offer safe staff/student ratios?
‘For the council leader to write such an ill-informed tweet, especially when he used to be the cabinet member in charge of children’s’ services and schools, beggars belief.’
The dilemma faced by headteachers was illustrated in a recent letter to parents of pupils at Northgate High School in Ipswich, Suffolk.
Joint headteachers David Hutton and Rowena Mackie wrote ‘We would like to stress in response to previous media coverage that closing the school is not a decision that is taken lightly by headteachers.
‘As a group we dislike having to make a decision before 7am that has the potential to make us appear foolish later that same day.
‘Parental opinion is typically split, with roughly equal numbers complaining on snowy days if we close the school or keep it open.
‘In making our decision prior to the start of a school day, we will consider the safety of the school site (which will be fully inspected) and the likely danger to pupils, students and staff in making their journey to school.
‘I’m dreaming of a White Christmas…’
Odds on a White Christmas in a major city in Britain have now fallen as low as 1-2 following the recent snowfall.
The cheapest price in a single area from Coral is 7-4 in Aberdeen, followed by Glasgow and Edinburgh at 2-1 and Newcastle at 5-2.
Leeds and Manchester having snow on Christmas Day are both priced at 3-1, while London is on offer at 4-1.
Coral is also offering 1-2 on a White Christmas at any of the 13 major cities the bookmaker is taking bets on.
A Coral spokesman said: ‘London hasn’t had a White Christmas for a long time now but after the snow over the weekend punters are rushing to get their bets on that this year is the one.’
An Oddschecker spokesman added: ‘London bedecked in snow is nothing short of a magical sight and our bookmakers fancy at least a 40 per cent chance of a White Christmas across the city.’
‘We have to keep in mind that while many of our Year 7 to 11 pupils can travel in by foot, the vast majority of our staff cannot.
‘The likelihood of having inadequate supervision clearly adds to safety concerns when conditions underfoot are dangerous and pupil behaviour is influenced by the possibility of ice and snow related activities.
‘If the school is open at the start of the day and it begins to snow heavily during the day, our considerations will be slightly different.
‘In this situation we will weigh up the relative safety of pupils who are already on the site, compared to their likely safety if sent home.
‘We will also try to judge if their journey home is likely to be more dangerous if delayed until the end of the school day.
‘In this respect the decision may be different for Sixth Form students, many of whom travel long distances through rural areas.’
Lee Abbott, headteacher at Hillside Primary School in Ipswich, said ‘I think schools should do all they can to open in all weathers, other than when it is impossible to open the site safely, for example, boiler failure, when it is impossible to clear paths, and when there are insufficient staff to teach classes.
‘However, it is a very challenging decision for heads and a decision to close is never taken lightly.
‘At Hillside we risk assess the site, and the staff’s journeys to school, to try and put appropriate plans in place to ensure the school opens because that is best for our learners and their families.’
The Trades Union Congress told employers not to force staff to make hazardous journeys into work today, saying firms should give staff advice on what to do when snow, ice and a lack of public transport stops them getting in.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said many companies now have ‘bad weather’ strategies in place, including policies covering what parents should do if schools close and they have no alternative childcare.
Council REMOVES grit bins to save money
The big freeze is biting, but hundreds of grit bins are being removed by council bosses in Fife.
They say they need to save cash, but locals have reacted with disbelief.
The grit bins have been taken away from streets throughout the region as part of a cost-cutting review, and will not be redeployed elsewhere.
Fife Council’s policy is now to provide grit bins on minor housing estate roads and footpaths not on the primary gritting network, with bins on the priority routes being removed since they are already receiving the highest level of road gritting service.
However, the move has not gone down well with many residents. Pointing out that 260 grit bins have been axed in north Fife alone, Liberal Democrat group leader and Tay Bridgehead councillor Tim Brett urged council chiefs to look again at the issue.
He said: ‘I’ve had complaints over the last ten days or so from literally every part of my ward. I’m a great believer in providing people with the tools to do things themselves if they want to.
‘While the council can say ‘we’re gritting the roads’, my experience is that the council is very slow to grit the pavements at our end of the kingdom and that’s a major worry for me.’
But Derek Crowe, the council’s roads and transportation service manager, said: ‘We have a budget saving target to reduce the cost of Fife’s winter service, including grit bins.
‘The main cost of the grit bin service is not their provision but the servicing of them and if we just redeploy them we will not achieve the budget saving.
‘By comparison, the provision of grit bins is much higher in Fife than neighbouring councils and there are now so many (circa 4,000) that in the event of a severe weather event it is unlikely that sufficient resources could be enabled to meet the policy standard of refills within five days.’
She said: ‘It is essential that employers don’t force staff to make dangerous journeys for the sake of presenteeism. For many employees the bad weather will have made their commute virtually impossible.’
Sports fixtures began to fall victim to the weather today, with tonight’s FA Cup second-round replay between Carlisle United and Gillingham postponed because of a frozen pitch at Brunton Park in Cumbria.
Also falling foul to the cold snap was tonight’s second round replay between Crewe Alexandra and Blackburn Rovers at Gresty Road which has been put back 24 hours to tomorrow.
Meanwhile non-league team Hereford FC has asked volunteers to help them remove a layer of 4in (10cm) of snow from its Edgar Street pitch in order to get Thursday night’s FA Cup replay on against Fleetwood Town.
Met Office meteorologist Craig Snell said: ‘It’s still possible that it could go lower but in Shawbury (in Shropshire) we saw -13C (8.6F) which is the coldest night of the year so far.
‘We have to go back to the night of February 13/14 2016 when we saw -14.1C (6.6F) in Braemar for the coldest before that. Benson saw -9C (15.8F) and Kew Gardens in London had -4.2C (24F) and Teddington saw -4.8C (23F).’
He said there was the potential for a ‘dusting’ of snow on higher levels in the coming days, and a risk of problems caused by rain falling in already icy areas. ‘It will take a good few days for the snow to melt away,’ he added.
Clear skies overnight saw temperatures fall below the -12.4C (9.6F) recorded on Saturday – which was previously the coldest night of 2017 so far – with the Met Office recording a new low in Shawbury, north east of Shrewsbury.
Weather warnings for snow and ice are in place until 11am today covering large parts of the UK, including the South East, Midlands, Northern Ireland and Wales, as well as the eastern coast of England and parts of Scotland.
In Gloucestershire, 36 homes were without power for a second night after ice and snow caused disruption across the country over the weekend.
Western Power Distribution said the outage was caused by the weather and engineers were expecting to have the power restored by 7.30am today.
The country will also face rain and hill snow later in the day.
It comes as Green Flag revealed that it received 13,800 calls by midday yesterday — more than three every minute and over double their usual number for a Monday at this time of year.
The roadside recovery firm also got 49,800 calls over the previous three days as snow and wintry weather swept across Britain, causing chaos on road and rail networks.
The AA said it had its busiest day of the year yesterday with around 25,000 calls from motorists – and was preparing for a deluge of calls today.
AA president Edmund King said: ‘We expect Tuesday to be extremely busy as temperatures plummet overnight, causing even more hazardous conditions on already wet and slippery roads.
‘All of our patrols are working hard (to) help those broken down or stuck in ice and snow and we have plans in place to ensure our call operators can travel to and from work safely to answer emergency breakdown calls.’
After snowy and freezing conditions brought problems to road, rail and air yesterday, the threat of delays and cancellations lingers on today following a bitterly cold night.
National Rail is not reporting any major disruption to train journeys owing to the weather – but added services running to and from London Waterloo could be disrupted until 10am following a line-side fire yesterday.
Woman risks her life to save dog in the water
A woman risked her life when she ran into freezing waters to rescue her dog.
She was sent disappearing under water for several seconds as she struggled to rescue her pet, which was dragged out to sea on Sunday.
The woman went under water for several seconds as she struggled to rescue her dog
Powerful waves carried the woman back up the beach as the dog desperately tried to keep its head above water moments before another wave swept it back inshore.
The fully clothed woman finally grabbed the bedraggled animal before she was hit by another wave before a bystander dragged the dog to safety.
The woman finally grabbed the bedraggled animal before she was hit by another wave
Both the RNLI and coastguard have since said the woman was lucky to not have been killed during the daring rescue on the seafront in Brighton.
At London Heathrow, where dozens of flights were shelved yesterday, 16 departures are listed as cancelled for today with the airport advising passengers to check the status of their flight before travelling to the airport.
Cancellations are also reported at Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh airports. Airlines had previously said the re-positioning of aircraft and crews from previous days was adding to the problems.
Angry passengers branded Birmingham Airport ‘shambolic’ after plummeting temperatures plunged the travel hub into chaos overnight.
Some travellers reported a seven-hour wait at baggage collection yesterday – a day after flights to and from the airport were grounded amid blizzard conditions.
Some passengers were reportedly forced to climb through baggage carousels to retrieve their own luggage. Flights were suspended on Sunday while the runway was cleared, leaving passengers facing lengthy delays.
An airport spokesman said today: ‘The freezing temperature means that we are having to treat aircraft stands, aircraft and pathways with de-icer which may add time to your journey.
‘We apologise for any inconvenience but passenger and staff safety is our priority so please bear with us during these challenging conditions.’
However irritable passengers took to Twitter to complain.Paul Byrne wrote: ‘First time I have heard a pilot repeatedly air his disappointment with Birmingham Airport as they delayed our landing as they were not prepared.
‘Then the gate was not ready, then no stairway to get passengers off because they are broken #shambles.’
Amber tweeted: ‘My husband’s flight landed at 9.30pm and you guys unloaded his baggage just now. I understand there were issues but to unload every other plane first!
‘Terrible service, I think you really need to look at your procedures. Everyone had been very patient expecting delays but seven hours for baggage?!’
Meanwhile Norwich Airport was closed following fears that the ice might see planes slip and slide off the runway. The airport said it was shut due to ‘adverse weather conditions’ and apologised for any inconvenience caused.
British Airways said it planned to operate a ‘near normal schedule’ today but passengers due to fly to or from Heathrow were given the option of a full refund or re-booking for travel until December 18.
Forecasters had initially predicted temperatures as low as -15C (5F) last night, which would have made it the coldest night since February 2012. The top UK temperature yesterday was a mere 7.9C (46F) on the Isles of Scilly.
Paramedics race to help an elderly woman seen sitting frozen on a park bench… but it turns out to be a STATUE
Paramedics dashed to help a woman seen sitting frozen on a park bench yesterday – but it turned out to be a statue.
A worried motorist called 999 after spotting what looked like an elderly woman sitting motionless and covered in snow – and paramedics rushed to Brampton Park in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, where they made the discovery.
Tweeting pictures of it, paramedic Katie Tudor posted: ‘Next, call from a member of the public who was concerned that there was someone sat on a bench, not moving and covered in snow!’Luckily, on our arrival, it turned out to be a statue.’
A worried motorist called 999 after spotting what looked like an elderly woman sitting motionless and covered in snow – and paramedics rushed to Brampton Park in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, where they made the discovery
The statue is known as the Lady in the Park and has been in Brampton Park since November 2014. It was commissioned to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War.
The life-sized sculpture depicts a woman reading a letter sent from the Armed Forces informing her that family members had died in battle.
A spokesman for West Midlands Ambulance Service said: ‘Somebody in their car spotted who they thought was a person covered in snow and called us.
‘An ambulance arrived straight away and our crew was there for exactly minute and one second. The woman who called us had good intentions, but it’s unfortunate that she didn’t go over to check first that it wasn’t a statue.’
Fellow paramedic Peter Bowles said: ‘Good grief! Perhaps ask the ‘patient’ if they’re OK from a safe distance, if you can, before calling 999?’
Freezing conditions have damaged Eurotunnel’s power supply, leading to six-hour delays, the company said.
Eurotunnel told customers to cancel or change plans as Le Shuttle services in both directions between Folkestone in Kent and Calais in France have been hampered by what the firm called ‘unforeseen capacity restrictions’.
It has warned high-sided vehicles, including lorries and coaches, there could be a wait of up to six hours from the booked departure time, reduced to one hour for France-bound cars and three minutes for UK-bound passengers in low vehicles.
But customers on Twitter complained of waiting times many hours long and said a lack of information had caused confusion.
The company responded to complaints on Twitter, telling customers: ‘The bad weather conditions faced yesterday damaged our power supply system then some our trains which are now in maintenance.’
The Eurotunnel service information website said: ‘Our service delays today are having a more serious impact on coaches, high vehicles and vehicles towing a trailer/caravan with six-hour wait on booked departure time.
‘We strongly recommend that you amend or cancel your trip today if travelling with one of these vehicles.
‘The current delay for other vehicles is one hour to booked departure time. We are working hard to improve this situation; if you are able to cancel or amend your trip we recommend that you do so.’
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) said Eurotunnel’s advice was not practical for businesses.
RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: ‘With an estimated six-hour wait on booked departure times, Le Shuttle is recommending that high-sided vehicles amend or cancel their trips today.
‘The majority of hauliers that use this vital crossing between the UK and the rest of Europe simply can’t do that – the delivery of perishable food products, for example, is time critical.
‘A six-hour delay just adds six hours into the supply chain and reduces shelf life. This is bad news at any time of the year but particularly in the run-up to Christmas. Missed deliveries can have a big financial impact on a trucker’s operating costs.
Eurotunnel Customers complained of waiting times many hours long and said a lack of information had caused confusion
‘But UK hauliers, responsible for moving 90 per cent of the UK economy, will step up to the mark and ensure that they deliver the Christmas that millions of Europeans have come to expect.’
A Eurotunnel spokesman said: ‘The residual delays this morning are the aftermath of the horrific weather conditions over the past couple of days, particularly in France where there have been power cuts and road, rail and port closures.
‘The tunnel has been running services throughout, but we did experience disruptions due to the weather, especially from the power cuts across the region.
‘The delays are currently mainly affecting high vehicles on the passenger service, everything else is back to a normal service. We are working to reduce the waiting time as quickly as possible.’