Schools close as snow descends on Eastbourne

Initial snowfall on Eastbourne seafront on January 18th 2013 E04006P
Initial snowfall on Eastbourne seafront on January 18th 2013 E04006P

SCHOOLS closed early in Eastbourne this lunchtime as the town became enveloped in the snow which has gripped much of the west and southern England overnight.

More than a dozen schools sent pupils home early at around midday as flurries of snow settled on Eastbourne from around 9.30am.

The temperature on Beachy Head dipped to minus 3c by midday as the snow generally caused minimal traffic disruption in the town.

The following schools announced mid-morning that students would be leaving at lunchtime: Alfriston School, Annecy Catholic Primary School, Seaford; Chiddingly Primary School; Chyngton School, Seaford; Cradle Hill Community Primary School, Seaford, Dallington Church of England Primary School, Seaford; Grovelands Community School, Hailsham; Hailsham Community College; Hawkes Farm Primary School, Hailsham; Hazel Court Special School, Eastbourne; Hellingly Community Primary School; Langney Primary School, Pevensey; Marshlands Primary School, Hailsham; Park Mead Primary School, Hailsham; Pevensey & Westham Church of England School; Seaford Head School; Seaford Primary School; Shinewater Primary School, Eastbourne, Stone Cross School, Pevensey; The Haven Voluntary Aided CE Methodist Primary School, Eastbourne; The Lindfield School, Eastbourne; The South Downs Community Special School, Eastbourne; Willingdon Community School, Eastbourne.

In Sussex, around 200 schools in the county shut because of the snow. However the Eastbourne, Lewes and Newhaven campuses of Sussex Downs College were open this afternoon for exams.

The wintry weather even prompted extraordinary scenes in one Seaford store of panic buying, with queues of shoppers at the Morrisons in the town. Although the town centre was very quiet this lunchtime, supermarkets around Eastbourne reported doing brisk business today with many people deciding to stock up.

On the roads, gritters from East Sussex County Council were out this morning with snow ploughs gritting the primary routes in the county. Despite difficult driving conditions, most routes were passable with care, with the majority of traffic disruption taking place in West Sussex which had received heavier snowfall during the morning. The A27 at Chichester, in particular, was treacherous and roads around Ditchling Beacon were closed.

The rail network ran to time with Southern Rail having amended the timetable overnight to account for the expected wintry weather. The half-hourly services from Eastbourne and Littlehampton, which normally join at Haywards Heath, was running hourly and with more carriages.

Snow began falling at Gatwick Airport just after 9am, but this failed to disrupt departures or arrival flights.

The wintry weather is expected to continue with a severe weather warning issued for south-east England. Temperatures are not expected to rise above freezing with bitterly cold south-eastly winds, and snow flurries expected on Saturday and Sunday.

At lunchtime, the Met Office said: “A band of snow, heavy in places, will spread north-eastwards across Wales and the south-western half of England, during Friday morning, lasting through the afternoon and evening across much of Wales, the Midlands, southern and parts of south-east England. Winds will strengthen, leading to drifting of lying snow.”

As severe weather causes havoc across the country, WRVS volunteers are battling through the treacherous conditons, making sure older people have everything they need to stay happy, healthy and warm.

Despite the snow and ice which has blanketed the country, WRVS volunteers have teamed up with local people in East Sussex to make sure older people still receive their regular meals on wheels, can get to hospital appointments, and stock up on supplies.

Although many roads, schools and shops are closed, many meals on wheels deliveries have reached those who need a hot meal.

David McCullough, chief executive of WRVS, said: “We’re so proud of our volunteers, who are working really hard to make sure older people in their community have everything they need. Severe weather can be very unsettling for older people and it’s great to know WRVS volunteers are so dedicated. It’s fantastic to see communities pulling together to help those who need it the most.”

WRVS supports over 100,000 older people each month stay independent in their own homes for longer with tailor made solutions.

Through its army of 40,000 volunteers, the charity runs services such as Good Neighbours (Befriending), Meals-on-Wheels and Books-on-Wheels that alleviate loneliness and help older people. A charity that receives no direct government funding, it also provides practical support for older people who have been in hospital through its On Ward Befriending and Home from Hospital services.