Half Term Fun on Norfolk Trails!

Photo:  Martyn Wright

Photo: Martyn Wright

Looking for something a bit different this half term? Then stick your wellies on and get the kids out on the Nar Valley Way Geocache Trail!

So what is Geocaching? Geocaching is an exciting outdoor treasure hunt adventure for the whole family. It is a fun way to get people walking, introducing you to new, interesting and beautiful locations.

Geocaches can be found using co-ordinates input into a Smartphone or GPS receiver, and you can expect an adventurous experience for adults and children alike.

Norfolk is a fantastic place to start Geocaching. The open countryside, beautiful coast, gentle river valleys and a landscape rich in heritage sites offers a unique opportunity for exploration.

The Nar Valley Way Geocache Trail includes a series of ten caches on a 2.5 mile stretch from Castle Acre to West Acre and encourages Cachers to experience one of the most beautiful stretches of the Nar Valley Way passing through Castle Acre Common, which is a “Site of Special Scientific Interest”.

More info can be found at http://www.norfolk.gov.uk/Leisure_and_culture/Norfolk_Trails/NCC126448


East Anglians have the best willpower in UK

eastanglia new years resolutionA survey of the nation’s willpower has revealed that people in East Anglia are the best at sticking to their New Year’s Resolutions compared to the rest of the UK.

The survey, commissioned by motorway services operator Welcome Break, revealed that a virtuous 60% managed to stick to their pledges compared to just 45% across the nation as a whole. Furthermore, Saturday 11 January has been identified as the day when most of us will break our New Year’s Resolutions this year.

According to the survey of 2000 people, the second Saturday in January is the day when our willpower is at its lowest. A combination of a stressful first week back at work after Christmas, loss of weekday routine, a big night out and pressure from friends and family were all given as reasons for why Brits will find it so hard to stick to their resolutions this weekend.

Lack of willpower was cited by 55% of respondents in East Anglia as the main reason they break their resolutions. Events such as travelling, tiredness, a big night out and a break from their usual routine also scored highly.

With millions of us making our well-intended resolutions just 11 days earlier, 40% of people in the region break them in the first week, with a massive 56% throwing in the towel before the end of January. A weak-willed 4% admitted they can’t keep them for even two days, with a further 12% not even starting the pledge they made on New Year’s Eve. Only 29% managed to keep their New Year’s resolution beyond the spring.

The survey also found a big increase in people in East Anglia wanting to lose weight, with 50% stating this as their main New Year’s goal in 2014, which is a rise of 10% from 2013. When looking at their dieting habits, 16% of those surveyed didn’t manage to stay on their diet for more than a week, whilst 3% admitted to lasting just one day. The average weight gain over the festive period for respondents in East Anglia is around 4lbs, with over 5% admitting to putting on over 7lbs.

Also surprisingly, when asked what they were planning to make their New Year’s resolution for 2014, more people wanted to give up social media than give up smoking. 24% stated the longest they’ve managed to go without using Facebook and Twitter was one week, whilst 10% admitted they can’t last longer than an hour without it. So bad is the region’s addiction to social media that an astonishing 17% even admitted to using Facebook and Twitter in the middle of their Christmas dinner!

Leading psychologist, Dr Simon Moore, Chartered Psychologist for the British Psychological Society explains why New Year’s resolutions are so hard to stick to:

“It’s important to understand that any resolution cannot be maintained with ‘willpower’ alone. Cutting out things we have grown used to requires a gradual process of change. We need to wean ourselves into new behaviour patterns slowly, giving our brain and body time to adjust. So, rather than cutting something out altogether, for most people a better strategy would be to reduce the intake week by week. My advice is to chaperone willpower with slow change, ask friends and family for their support and have a clear goal of what you’d like to achieve. Sudden changes are prone to failure as they cause psychological and physiological shock.

“So if you want to change a habit, such as diet, planning ahead is key. With a clear idea of what you intend to do, it’s much easier to stay on track and avoid temptation. With a planned gradual change our brain and body wont rebel and resist as hard, making it easier to substitute poor behaviour with more positive ones.

The survey was conducted by Welcome Break, which has pulled together a menu of over 100 meals under 500 calories to make it easier for customers to stick to their healthy eating New Year’s resolutions whilst on the country’s motorways this January.

Rod McKie, CEO, Welcome Break commented: “The survey clearly revealed a break in routine such as travel was one of the key factors in causing people to break their diets. We have therefore created a 500 calorie meal menu to help our customers make clear and simple choices from the range of well-loved brands available at Welcome Break such as Starbucks, Subway and Waitrose across the UK. There are a huge variety of delicious, low calorie options for travellers looking to kick start their healthy eating plan in 2014 and we look forward to helping our customers stay on track this year with the offering we have available.”

Information on the ‘100 meals under 500’ can be downloaded at www.welcomebreak.co.uk/500.

Storm surge could cause coastal flooding in Norfolk

Amber Warning covers most of the East of                        England.

Amber Warning covers most of the East of England.

The The Environment Agency and Met Office have warned there is potential for significant coastal flooding along the East Coast of England during Thursday and Friday, which may result in flooding affecting parts of the Wash and North Norfolk, with possible travel disruption.

Gale-force winds with gusts of 70-80 mph will cause large waves to form, and combine with spring tides and a large surge later in the day.

The east coast including Lincolnshire, Suffolk, Essex and Southend-on-Sea could also be affected. Coastal communities around the Thames Estuary and Kent could also see flooding.

John Curtin, the Environment Agency’s Head of Incident Management, said: “Gale force winds and large waves along the east coast of England are forecast during Thursday and Friday, coinciding with high tides.

“Impacts could include flooding affecting some coastal properties and communities. Coastal paths and promenades could be highly dangerous as there is an increased risk of being swept out to sea. People are warned to stay away from the shoreline.

Diagram shows how strong winds, low pressure + high tides are combining to give risk of flooding.

Diagram shows how strong winds, low pressure + high tides are combining to give risk of flooding.

“The Environment Agency is monitoring the situation closely, working alongside partners including the Met Office and local authorities. Environment Agency teams are out on the ground confirming that flood defences are in good working order, monitoring sea levels and preparing to issue flood warnings if necessary.

“People should check the Environment Agency website or follow @EnvAgency and #floodaware on Twitter for the latest flood outlook, and to sign up to receive free flood warnings.”

Video: Norfolk launches anti-drink drive message

Why wouldn’t you … drive sober this Christmas?

The Think! Norfolk partnership is reminding motorists to pause for thought and ask themselves this very question this Christmas … and not ruin lives by drinking and driving.

It comes as figures show that despite the terrible consequences of drink driving, some motorists still continue to ignore the warnings. During the festive season last year – from 1 December to 1 January – 83 drivers were more than the legal limit when tested by police.

To date this year, 532 have been charged with drink or drug driving by Norfolk Constabulary. In addition, alcohol has been identified as a factor in 13 of the 266 road traffic collisions in which people have been seriously injured or killed this year.

This latest road safety message is part of Think! Norfolk’s campaign, Why wouldn’t you…drive sober? Belt up? Ignore it? Slow down?

Norfolk motorists can be seen asking themselves this very simple question in the video clip above.

Alec Byrne, Norfolk County Councillor and Chairman of the Norfolk Casualty Reduction Partnership Group, said: “I simply cannot understand why anybody would choose to put their own lives and the lives of others in danger, and risk everything by drinking and driving.

“I hope this campaign will reinforce the message that drink driving is deplorable, and I would appeal to every motorist to spend a few minutes to consider why they wouldn’t drive sober? It should be the only option, and I urge people to make the right decision: please avoid drinking alcohol when you’re driving and if you’re a passenger, never get in a car with a drink driver.”

Chief Inspector Chris Spinks, Head of the Norfolk & Suffolk Roads Policing Unit, said: “Despite the considerable time we spend educating drivers about the dangers of drinking and driving, we still stop motorists at all times of the year who are over the limit, and sadly sometimes we have to deal with the devastation it can cause at the scene of a collision.

“The question “why wouldn’t you drive sober?” should be simple to answer, but as shown in the film there are people who find it difficult. We hope that it makes people think and reminds them that there is no excuse for drinking and driving, and they stay sober on their Christmas and New Year nights out if getting behind the wheel, or take the bus, where they will also see our messages, if they do drink.”

Think! Norfolk is made up of Norfolk County Council, Norfolk Constabulary, Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service, Norfolk Safety Camera Partnership and East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

In addition to the video on YouTube, the campaign is also supported by a high profile marketing campaign that includes advertisements on buses, radio, Chapelfield and Castle Mall shopping centres, roadside billboards, petrol forecourts in leading supermarkets, as well as newspapers and magazines.

Officers from Norfolk Constabulary will also be stopping motorists throughout the county. You can follow the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing Unit on Twitter @NSRoadsPolicing on Twitter or search the hashtag #fatal4.

Anybody convicted of drink driving will have a criminal record and could receive a prison sentence of up to 10 years, could be banned from driving, fined heavily and also possibly lose their job and their home.

The main aims of the Think! Norfolk campaign are:
• To reduce the number of road traffic collisions involving death and personal injury
• To deter drivers who might be tempted to drink and drive
• To remind drivers that those taking either illegal or prescribed drugs must not drive if the drug results in sensory impairments.

Members of the public can report anybody they suspect of drink driving to police by calling 101 or dialling 999 if someone is already behind the wheel. People can also contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 – calls are free and confidential.

Train Derailment

Derailment 4

Derailment 3

Derailment 2

Derailment 1

Tennyson Avenue was closed by police this afternoon after a freight train left the rails.

The driver was said to be very shaken but not injured. Nobody else was injured in the incident.

Buses are replacing services between Lynn and Downham Market until further notice.

Up to 19 freight wagons left the track. Heavy lifting gear is on its way.

Tennyson Avenue was re-opened later, after the first half of the train was moved.

Car park to re-open on Saturday

Tuesday Market Place Refurbishment

The Tuesday Market Place car park will re-open on Saturday, 9 November 2013, as the 16-week Tuesday Market Place refurbishment programme nears completion.

Work began in July 2013 to refurbish the Tuesday Market Place. The aim of the £1m project was to maintain the square’s flexibility as an outdoor events venue, whilst making more of the space available by restricting traffic and encouraging local eateries to make use of new paved outdoor areas.

As part of the project the car park has also been completely resurfaced and two zebra crossings have been installed. Some new street lighting will be installed in the next week or two.

The granite area, on the south side of the Tuesday Market Place is a pedestrianised zone, whilst the paved area on the east side is now permanently closed to traffic from 10am until 10pm, and open for deliveries only between 10pm and 10am.

The car park comprises 200 spaces, of which 21 are free 20-minute spaces. These have been incorporated into the design to compensate for the loss of free on-street parking. The free spaces are demarcated by maroon bays with tickets available from the maroon ticket machine. Two of the free spaces are disabled bays, which are free for 20 minutes plus 10 minutes grace. Fees for the car park are the same as other short-term council-owned car parks in town.

Cllr Elizabeth Nockolds, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “This extensive project will be completed on time and within budget, which is great news. The car park will be fully opened on Saturday in plenty of time for the lead up to Christmas. The paving will be completed over the next couple of weeks and the Christmas trees are due to be installed mid November, ready for our Christmas lights switch-on event on 28 November.

“The Tuesday Market Place is one of the finest market squares in Europe. This refurbishment helps to make the most of its assets whilst maintaining its core use as a car park.”

New “missing link” footpath opens

The opening of a new footpath means you can now walk all the way from King’s Lynn to Great Yarmouth, exploring the relatively unknown “Heart of Norfolk”.

Norfolk’s newest walking trail – the Wensum Way – has been opened after Norfolk County Council’s chairman put on her hiking gear to walk a stretch of the path and help install a bench at its midway point.

The new 12 mile trail stretches from Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse museum to Lenwade, passing through both the Whitewater and Wensum valleys, a route rich with heritage and wildlife.

A “missing link” footpath, it also creates a brand new 96-mile long distance walking challenge in England, by joining up with Norfolk’s other long distance trails and making it possible to walk across the width of Norfolk – from King’s Lynn in the west to Great Yarmouth in the east.

Wensum Way map

Keen walker, Norfolk County Council Chairman Hilary Cox, said: “Like thousands of other people I love walking – and particularly here in Norfolk because it is one of the very best ways to appreciate the amazing variety of landscapes, wildlife and heritage that our countryside has to offer.

“So I am really pleased that the County Council has created this brand new footpath. It’s a fantastic addition to our Norfolk Trails network.

“Whether you are a hard-core hiker, or simply looking to spend a couple of hours in the countryside with family or friends, I’m in no doubt this new trail offers something for everyone. And that many will take great pleasure from stopping for a welcome rest at this half way point to admire the beautiful view from this bench.

“I am confident the Wensum Way will encourage more people to reap the amazing health and wellbeing benefits that a day out in the countryside can bring and that the lure of the longer distance challenge will attract more dedicated walkers keen to try Norfolk’s new coast to coast footpath.”

The new footfall along the Wensum Way would bring potential new customers for the businesses that operate along the route – and that could be worth £100,000 a year to the local economy.

The Wensum Way may be one of our shortest trails, but it has made a big difference to the variety of Norfolk’s countryside footpaths and has opened up some of the hidden gems which make this part of the county so special.

Wensum Way walkers will find plenty of places to eat, drink and stay in the pretty villages which dominate this part of mid Norfolk. They will find some wonderful churches and catch glimpses of the many watermills dotted along the river which played such a vital role in the lives of people living and working here in years gone by.

The Wensum Way passes close to 26 county wildlife sites and four Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Even the River Wensum itself is a designated European Special Area of Conservation. Over 270 species have been recorded in the river valley, from plants, butterflies and moths, 18 recorded species of dragonfly and damselfly to otters, water voles and eight types of bat! Keen-eyed birdwatchers can glimpse over 200 species of birds including bitterns and marsh harriers.

New footpath from King’s Lynn to Yarmouth


“Why I love Norfolk” Competition – Win £600 in holiday vouchers


Visitors and residents of Norfolk are being given the opportunity to share why they love the county and be in with a chance of winning £600 in holiday vouchers, a £200 donation to a Norfolk charity of their choice, plus tickets to some of Norfolk’s best-loved attractions.

The competition, launched by Sykes Cottages, aims to discover why the county of Norfolk is such a popular area with its residents and tourists alike.

Competition prizes include:

  • £600 of Sykes Cottages holiday vouchers
  • £200 donation to a Norfolk charity of the winner’s choice
  • Tickets to some of Norfolk’s best-loved attractions: BeWILDerwood, Norwich Cathedral, the English Whisky Distillery, the Dad’s Army Museum and the North Norfolk Steam Railway

To enter, all people need to do is share their passion for Norfolk. This can be done in one of two ways:

Enter via Twitter using the hashtag #whyilovenorfolk. Entrants can tweet their favourite thing about Norfolk using the hashtag #whyilovenorfolk to be included in the draw

Alternatively, entrants can visit Sykescottages.co.uk/whyilovenorfolk and complete the form.

Tom Lowes, Sykes Cottages’ search marketing manager, says:
“There are hundreds of reasons to love Norfolk – whether it’s the people, the architecture, the cultural attractions or the beautiful countryside. It’s great that this competition gives us the opportunity to help people share some of Norfolk’s best bits with the rest of the world.

“We’re also particularly proud to be giving something back to the county too – the whole team is looking forward to finding out which Norfolk charity will be receiving £200 as a result of this competition.

“The Sykes Cottages team is extremely excited about the #whyilovenorfolk competition! Because we have over 100 holiday cottages for rent in Norfolk at the moment, and because it’s one of our most popular and fastest growing holiday destinations, we’re looking forward to discovering more about why people love this fabulous county so much. Of course, because Norfolk is so popular, we’re always looking to help more owners rent their properties in the area too.”

Photographs and videos can also be entered into the competition via either entry method. A winner will be picked by judges from Sykes Cottages and the competition closes on 1 November at 1am. For full terms and conditions, please visit Sykescottages.co.uk/whyilovenorfolk.html.

To view holiday cottages in Norfolk, visit our Holiday Cottages section.

Pay for an hour – park all day!

parking pay here sign

Sunday visitors to King’s Lynn will be able to park all day for the cost of an hour.

Super Sundays is the latest ‘Just the Ticket’ promotion designed to support the towns economy by encouraging visitors into town at quiet times. Motorists will still need to enter their car registration number into the ticket machines in the normal way to obtain a valid ticket.

The offer runs from 1st -29th September in all King’s Lynn pay-and-display car parks owned and operated by the Borough Council. Motorists will be able to pay £1.40 to park until midnight on Sundays. Overnight parking (from midnight ‘til 8am the following morning) is subject to the standard £1 fee.

Super Sunday follows Free after Three on Wednesdays which ran throughout the school summer holidays and enabled people to park for free between 3 pm and midnight during this period. This offer expired on 4 September.

£100,000 has been set aside by the Borough Council to offer visitors to King’s Lynn a series of car parking promotions, and further promotions will be offered as the year progresses.

Weekend road closure for Tuesday Market Place

Tuesday Market Road Closure

Enhancement works on the Tuesday Market Place in King’s Lynn are underway, and the next phase involves resurfacing from St Nicholas Street up to the Corn Exchange. To enable this, St Nicholas Street will be closed next weekend from 7am on Saturday 17 August to 11pm on Sunday 18 August.

Pedestrian access will be maintained throughout the works, but there will be no access for vehicles at the point where St Nicholas Street joins Tuesday Market Place (shown as the red area on the diagram). Access to Tuesday Market Place car park will be from King Street via a signed diversion, however the works may cause disruption around the car park. Access to Page Stair Lane will be maintained but delays will be unavoidable as machinery passes the junction.

The work to enhance the market place is being funded by the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, and is being carried out on their behalf by Norfolk County Council’s strategic partnership with May Gurney (now part of Kier Group) for construction, and Mott MacDonald for design work. The County Council is carrying out works on the perimeter road at the same time to minimise cost and disruption.

Visitor vessels welcomed to quayside

Constructing pontoons at the quay

From Friday 2 August King’s Lynn’s quayside will be ready to welcome visiting vessels, as works to install pontoons are completed ahead of schedule.

Work, which began in early July, has included the installation of the pontoons and an access bridge, as well as the provision of water, electricity, signage and CCTV.

Installed at Berth 5, just opposite Marriott’s Warehouse on the South Quay, the pontoons provide safe and secure moorings to allow visiting leisure craft to travel along the Wash and stop in King’s Lynn.

Cllr Alistair Beales, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “The installation of the pontoons has gone really smoothly and we are delighted that we are able to welcome visitors a week ahead of our scheduled official launch of the facility. We’ve been particularly pleased by the number of enquiries we have already received, especially as we haven’t actively promoted them yet. There certainly seems to be a lot of interest in what we are doing here and we hope that translates into confirmed bookings and increased visitor numbers generally.”

Cllr David Pope, Cabinet Member for Assets, said: “King’s Lynn has so much to offer visitors. The fantastic, historic waterfront is the ideal welcome to the town so it makes absolute sense to encourage people to come in by boat to enjoy our magnificent town. This addition to our tourism offer will bring a welcome boost to our local economy and that of our neighbours in Wisbech and Fosdyke, who we will be working with to promote sailing opportunities.”

The opening of the pontoons and the launch of a new Sail the Wash website (www.sailthewash.com), showcasing the sailing opportunities that the Wash boasts, will be formally marked by Borough Mayor, Cllr Elizabeth Watson at a special invitation-only event on 10 August at Marriot’s Warehouse.

Free parking ~ Just The Ticket this summer

parking pay here sign

Motorists will be able to park for free after 3 pm on Wednesday afternoons in King’s Lynn during the summer holidays under a new scheme launched by the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk.

The Free after Three parking promotion is one of a series of Just the Ticket parking promotions designed to support the local economy by encouraging people into the town at customarily quiet times.

Cllr Elizabeth Nockolds, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “The idea was originally proposed during our Let’s Talk Shop events last year, when it was suggested that something should be done about parking to encourage visitors to the town.

“We now have new car parking machines in place that allow us to make such promotions available, and enable us to collate data so that we can see how successful they have been. People will still need to get a ticket by putting in their vehicle registration number – they just won’t need to pay if it’s between 3 pm and midnight on a Wednesday in the school holidays.”

Council officers have spoken with members of the Town Centre Partnership and the King’s Lynn Bid and the proposals have received support.

Cllr Nockolds added: “Free after Three is the first in a series of parking promotions that we have under consideration. We have set aside a budget of £100,000 to support these promotions, so once we start to get data back and can see how successful each initiative is, we can look at how we may be able to assist in the future.”

The Free after Three parking will start on Wednesday 31 July 2013 and take place every Wednesday up to, and including, Wednesday 4 September. It will mean that motorists can park free of charge between 3 pm and midnight during this period. The ticket will expire at midnight on Wednesday so anyone wishing to stay overnight (between midnight and 8 am) will need to pay the standard overnight parking fee of £1. To do this, if arriving after 3 pm, motorists will simply need to insert £1 after they have entered their registration number into the ticket machine. Instructions are printed on the car parking ticket machines.

The promotion applies to all council-run surface car parks in King’s Lynn, but not the multi-storey car park. All participating car parks will display a Just the Ticket notice. Motorists will need to display a valid ticket by entering their registration number into the parking machines.

New footpath from King’s Lynn to Yarmouth

Wensum Way map

It will soon be possible to walk the entire width of Norfolk along one continuous footpath, from King’s Lynn to Yarmouth.

Countryside leaders and landowners have welcomed Norfolk County Council’s plans for a new trail in mid Norfolk – the Wensum Way – which will open in Spring 2013.

The new 12 mile (19km) footpath will stretch from Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse museum to Lenwade; linking one end of the Nar Valley Way with the Marriott’s Way, joining up the Norfolk Trails network and making it possible to walk right across the width of Norfolk – from King’s Lynn in the west, to Great Yarmouth in the east. A link to the market town of Dereham will also be included.

The Wensum Way will become a new Norfolk Trail, meaning that its surface, signposting and furniture will be to the same standard as the UK’s prestigious National Trails.

Passing through both the Whitewater and Wensum valleys, the route is rich with heritage and wildlife. In the past, watermills played a vital role in the life of people living and working here and sites of mills are found dotted along or near to the route.

As well as increasing countryside access, the project is also expected to boost Norfolk’s economy by enhancing its tourism offer and supporting local businesses that operate along the route.

Bill Borrett, Cabinet Member for Environment and Waste at Norfolk County Council, said: ” I am really excited about the County Council’s investment in creating the new Wensum Way which I think is great news for Norfolk.

“The new trail will pass through beautiful and varied countryside, from meadows and woodlands to lakes and riversides. It will offer something for everyone – whether they are dedicated walkers, artists or photographers, people looking for places to watch birds or go fishing or simply looking to spend a couple of hours in the countryside with family or friends. It will be a great addition to our Norfolk Trails network and will open up even more of Norfolk’s beautiful landscape to even more people.”

Don Saunders, Chair of the Norfolk Local Access Forum, added: “I welcome the new Wensum Way initiative as it offers a wonderful opportunity to boost countryside access for Norfolk residents and I’m very sure it will bring new visitors to the county.

“It also brings a brand new long distance walking opportunity to England, by linking with the rest of the Norfolk Trails and creating a new continuous east/west path across Norfolk which I am sure will be high on walkers’ lists of challenges from the moment it opens in 2013.”

For further information about the Norfolk Trails and how to get out and about in Norfolk’s countryside please visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/trails

Better access for the disabled at railway station

Members of the West Norfolk Disability information Service  demonstarte at King's Lynn Railway Station.

Members of the West Norfolk Disability information Service demonstrate at King’s Lynn Railway Station.

Alan T Shearer reports …

I went along to a protest at the rail station on Wednesday. They wanted better access for disabled passengers in the form of automatic doors at the entrance. Whilst I was there two reps from operating company First Capital Connect came and spoke to them and the funding for the new doors has been granted! Today!!

I have it all on audio with the interviews…

Click Here to listen

Jonathan Toye (left) Gets the news that funding is now available for the automatic doors from First Capital Connect representatives Lee Millard (centre) & Paul Oxley (right)

Jonathan Toye (left) Gets the news that funding is now available for the automatic doors from First Capital Connect representatives Lee Millard (centre) & Paul Oxley (right)

Drivers in the East urged to be ready for winter

With warnings of possible snow next week, The Highways Agency is encouraging people in the East to be ready for severe weather as part of its ‘Make Time for Winter’ campaign.

The campaign encourages drivers to prepare for winter journeys that may be affected by poor weather.

Research by the Highways Agency shows that 49 per cent of drivers ignore severe weather warnings, while 29 per cent of drivers do not prepare their vehicle for winter – potentially putting themselves and others at risk.

Roads Minister Stephen Hammond said:

“Drivers need to make sure they and their vehicles are ready for severe weather. Vehicles are much more prone to break down as temperatures plummet and a routine incident or breakdown can become much more serious in severe weather.

“Any broken down vehicles can have a big impact on our motorways and trunk roads, making it harder for road salting vehicles and snow ploughs to operate. As well as putting the driver and passengers at risk, it takes longer to clear the roads and causes delays for everyone else.

“It’s important drivers take a few minutes to check their vehicles, plan their journeys, check the weather forecast and carry an emergency kit. In the most severe weather, they should even consider whether their journey is really necessary before they set out.”

The Highways Agency, which operates and maintains motorways and strategic roads in England, is well prepared for ice and snow. It has over 500 winter vehicles – salt spreaders, ploughs and snow blowers – on standby at over 100 depots to help keep traffic moving. Using data from the Met Office and on-road weather stations, it is able to treat the strategic road network before road temperatures fall below freezing. To do this, it has over a quarter of a million tonnes of salt in stock.The Agency encourages drivers to take some simple steps themselves:

* Check your vehicle – fuel and fluid levels, electrics and tyres – before setting out.
* Be prepared with an emergency kit in your vehicle, including warm clothes, food, water, boots, a torch, a spade, and any regular medication
* Listen to travel bulletins on the radio.
* If the weather is severe, consider whether your journey is essential or travel at a different time. In winter, the weather can change quickly so always be prepared for bad weather
* Remember that even when roads have been treated with salt, the local road layout or landscape can mean a greater risk of ice forming, such as on bends or under overhanging trees.