Thursday, February 05, 2009

Britain's economy hit by continuing snow

Heavy snow has once again brought chaos to parts of the UK. And with local authorities running low on salt, the Automobile Association has warned the conditions on the roads are becoming very dangerous. Paul Watters from the AA told the BBC that lives were at risk due to the lack of gritting material.

On Thursday it was the west and north of England that was hardest hit by the latest downfall. Northern Ireland saw its first snow this week and many airports from Belfast to London’s Luton airport experienced flight delays.

More snow is once again expected in Southern England during Friday’s rush hour bringing further chaos for commuters. The outlook is for more cold weather but the snow should dissipate over the coming days turning to rain next week [BBC / Sky News]. The bad weather has forced the closure of hundreds of schools and businesses. It i is estimated that it could cost the economy in excess of £5 billion [CNN]. This week the Federation of Small Businesses said that the cost to the economy from Monday and Tuesday’s snow cost Britain around £2.4 billion [Daily Telegraph]. The London Stock Exchange saw a drop in trading on Monday amounting to some 10% as city workers failed to arrive.

Britain’s inability to cope with a few centimetres of snow has bemused foreigners. This time last year millions of Chinese still managed to travel thousands of miles despite record breaking snowfall. The International Herald Tribune was quoted as saying, “The nation that beat back the Blitz couldn't, it seems, cope with four inches of snow”. But even Londoners hadn’t lost sight of the humiliating situation. One commuter was widely quoted in newspapers and on television as saying, “It's absolutely diabolical. It's like we're a Third World country".

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