'We're staying open' says Derby head as one in five county schools close
AS more than one in five schools across Derbyshire closed because of the snow yesterday, one head teacher vowed to remain open this week.
Simon Emsley, head teacher at Lakeside Community Primary School, confessed he could not understand the rush for schools to close, especially in Derby.
He said: "For me, the decision to close or remain open is very straightforward.
"Unless there is a health and safety issue which could affect our pupils, then it is business as usual. I made it clear in the newsletter to parents on Friday that we would be open this week."
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The school, which has more than 350 pupils, has staff travelling in from Chesterfield, Belper and Melbourne.
Mr Emsley said: "The last staff member managed to get in by about 10.15am.
"I understand schools closing in north Derbyshire but it's different in the city and I just don't get why so many schools closed."
The majority of school closures, which began from about 6.30am as the weather situation became apparent, were in rural areas such as Tideswell, Bakewell and villages north of Ashbourne.
As the morning wore on, some schools which were hoping to open at 11am were forced to abandon the idea because they could not clear the paths sufficiently to ensure pupils' safety.
With below freezing temperatures forecast, it is likely schools in outlying areas will be closed again today.
And motorists were being warned to expect dangerous icy driving conditions.
A Met Office spokeswoman said: "With overnight temperatures falling to minus 3C or minus 4C in Derbyshire, there is a risk of continued icy conditions."
Erewash Labour councillor Michelle Booth said she was concerned by the number of roads that appeared to be untreated. She was nearly involved in a crash on Chalons Way in Kirk Hallam.
She said: "The roads were perilous and frankly terrifying. I am an experienced and careful driver but this was a hair-raising experience.
"The snow was like a thick white-pile carpet – and there was no sign that a speck of grit had ever touched it. I found it incredibly difficult to control my steering."
Derbyshire County Council insisted it had been able to grit all primary and secondary network routes.
A spokeswoman said: "We still have 13,000 tonnes of salt in stock and are due to receive a further 1,000 tonnes on Tuesday."
Despite the conditions, Derbyshire police said there had been few road accidents yesterday. A spokeswoman said: "People have been driving very carefully so we've not had too many problems."
But the crashes that did occur caused hold-ups.
Two accidents in the Spondon area of the A52 caused gridlock in the morning rush-hour yesterday.
The first happened on the Nottingham-bound carriageway and another happened on the slip road on to the Derby-bound carriageway, causing delays of over an hour.
A crash on the eastbound carriageway of the A50 near Aston-on-Trent closed one lane in the morning rush-hour, causing long delays.
There were also problems around Swarkestone Bridge in both directions.
Delays were also heavy on the A515 at Fenny Bentley after a lorry became stuck.
Major repair works had been due to start along St Alkmund's Way yesterday but a Derby City Council spokeswoman said the work had been postponed, with contractors hoping to start this morning.
East Midlands Airport was closed yesterday morning and reopened just after 2pm. A total of 32 flights, inbound and outbound, were either cancelled or delayed.
Trent Barton and Arriva said most of its services were able to run, although passengers faced significant delays.
East Midlands Trains said its services had run well.
Managing director David Horne said: "Our staff worked incredibly hard and we had extra staff from all areas of our business out clearing snow from station platforms to help keep them safe for passengers."
Bin collections were cancelled in various parts of Derbyshire.
In Derbyshire Dales, residents were advised to leave their bins out and crews would "get to you just as soon as we can".
But in South Derbyshire District, householders were advised that bins would be picked up on the next scheduled collection date, including and "side refuse".
Erewash refuse teams were unable to reach some side streets.
The borough council advised residents who had been missed to leave their bins out for collection and they would be collected "as soon as possible".
In Amber Valley, the borough council said people in any streets missed yesterday should leave out their bins for a further two days.
If not emptied by then, they should be put out on the next scheduled collection date.
The official opening of the Chellaston Lighthouse Shop, due to take place today, has been postponed. And Derbyshire Dales District Council has cancelled the stall market in Wirksworth today.