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Big freeze to run through weekend in St Helens
12:00pm Saturday 19th January 2013 in News
FREEZING temperatures are set to continue over the weekend after the snowfall on Friday that led to the early closure of dozens of schools and public transport disruption.
Forecasts suggest there is a slight chance of some light flurries of snow today.
However, with temperatures expected to get no higher than 1C into next week there is no sign of a quick thaw of the significant covering that lies across St Helens.
More than 20 schools across the borough closed at lunchtime yesterday because of the icy weather and a number of bus routes – where significant snowfall on hills made conditions hazardous for drivers – had to be amended.
The Rainford Bypass was among the worst-hit highways, and the dual carriageway was operating on one lane on Friday.
A number of town centre businesses also shut early yesterday, however, significant gritting around the main shopping areas meant there were clear routes on roads and paths.
St Helens Council severe weather action plan was rolled out and all roads that feature on its ‘primary routes’ had been gritted after its fleet of nine vehicles worked last night and this morning (Saturday).
The local authority says it has healthy supplies of salt. All 180 grit bins were re-stocked on Thursday night, though there were reports that some residents had rapidly emptied them.
Meanwhile, with the town now facing a sustained cold spell, council officers have urged people to check on any vulnerable neighbours.
A council statement read: “As the cold weather sets in, please check on your neighbours, particularly the elderly and disabled, and see if there is anything you can do for them.
“Just five minutes could make all the difference to them.”
Elsewhere, some bin collections had to be postponed with wagons unable to access some roads in Eccleston Park, Rainhill and along Knowsley Road.
Sport was also hit, with an early call made to abandon a big race meeting at Haydock Park that was scheduled for Saturday, and all local authority managed sports pitches being closed for the weekend.
Pictures from Langtree Park showed a healthy covering of snow on covers that are protecting the Saints’ pitch – and an inspection will take place on Sunday to see whether Jon Wilkin’s Testimonial fixture against Wakefield will go ahead.
At Knowsley Safari Park, efforts were being made to keep animals warm in the icy conditions and baboons were pictured tucking into hot potatoes.
Meanwhile, the snow also led to plenty of fun, with the Star’s newsroom receiving dozens of pictures of youngsters playing and some particularly imaginative snowmen.
With school finishing early for many, lots of children headed down to their favourite sledging spots such as Sherdley Park and ‘Happy Valley’ at Carr Mill Dam.
The St Helens Cold Weather Emergency Helpline has been set up to assist people through the winter months and is available up to the end of March 2013.
If you need help keeping warm and healthy this winter, you’re snowed in or you want to get hold of a Winter Survival Pack call freephone 08000 355 878.