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Posted on 5 February 2009 at 0:00 GMT

Weather chaos exposes cutbacks

WHEN HEAVY snow showers saw rail, road and air transport grind to a halt in much of Britain last week, millions of workers were unable to travel. For the first time in living memory London's buses were taken off the roads. Even The Socialist had to delay production for a day. The cost to the economy is estimated at more than one billion pounds.

Having been given days' notice by meteorologists, why did several centimetres of snow have such a devastating effect?

Significant factors were: decades of lack of investment in contingency planning and infrastructure, combined with years of local authority cutbacks and privatisation of services. Many councils used up their stocks of salt within 24 hours.

The axing of directly employed council staff and the privatisation of road services by councils to cut costs has led to many roads and pavements not being gritted.

Private rail companies are not prepared to invest in snow ploughs and heated points for what they consider to be unusual occurrences.

So when headline writers talk of 'snow chaos' they should refer to 'cuts chaos'.

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