Snow shuts down Heathfield

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Heathfield slithered to a halt in the middle of Friday morning as threatened snow caused a white-out in the town.

A high location on the east-west Wealden ridge meant Heathfield, Broad Oak and Punnetts Town bore the full brunt of the snowstorm.

After a slow start when optimistic families delivered their children to the few schools which remained open, flakes thickened and fell more densely.

Main roads had been gritted but side roads were deathtraps, particularly in the steep Tilsmore area, Waldron and neighbouring villages.

One woman from Vines Cross was terrified she would not be able to travel home after shopping for food in Sainsbury’s.

A family living in Thorntree Close used a spade to clear snow from their steep approach road but were horrified to find black ice underneath. Their car would not make the gradient.

The problem seemed to be that wet road surfaces had frozen solid overnight with the snow falling on top causing a lethal frozen series of layers.

Local farmers were preparing to use tractors to enable patients to attend hospitals. Excise chiefs have given guarded approval to their use of red diesel on highways - usually forbidden.

Postmen and women continued their deliveries but schools that had opened, closed at lunchtime. Parents driving 4x4s collected children from families whose cars could not get out of lanes and drives.

In Heathfield library, several members of staff were not able to get into work so the fort was being held by just two.

Supermarkets were packed with queues halfway up sales aisles as shoppers cleared shelves of bread and milk and necessities.

News reports indicated that the snow could remain a problem until at least Monday.