Region could be set for white Christmas

EDP reportersA white Christmas could be on the cards as the cold snap which has blighted many parts of East Anglia in the last few days looks set to continue.EDP reporters

A white Christmas could be on the cards as the cold snap which has blighted many parts of East Anglia in the last few days looks set to continue.

Snow and ice caused problems at the weekend and drivers are being warned today that untreated roads in Norfolk will be 'treacherous' first thing.

And some families were on course to spend a fourth night without electricity last night as temperatures plummeted to -6C.

Nigel and Gillian Bacon, of Hindringham, near Fakenham, criticised EDF Energy for the delays in restoring their supplies and leaving them using candles and being forced to boil hot water to wash in.

'We have been without power since 10pm on Thursday and I contacted EDF on Friday but have heard nothing from them,' said Mrs Bacon, of Wells Road.

In another part of the village at The Street, 71-year-old widow Maisie Smith spoke of her anger over the delay at being re-connected to the power supply.

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'I live on my own and I haven't been able to get any information out of EDF. I have had to rely on my wood burning stove which I have slept in front of to keep warm but it really is atrocious to have to be without power for so long,' she said.

Like more than 25 other households in Beeston, near Dereham, Betty and John Ward were left without power for more than 61 hours after a pole carrying overhead electricity wires blew down in high winds on Thursday.

However, the couple, who are 76 and 81 respectively, consider themselves to have been relatively lucky compared to some others because they have a gas cooker and a coal fire.

Speaking from her home in Chapel Lane Mrs Ward said: 'There is an old gent who lives opposite who has spent three nights in a chair because his stair life would not work and he could not get upstairs.'

EDF Energy engineers were last night working to restore supplies to those still without power.

James Barber, from the company, said most of the repairs still under way were affecting single properties or small groups of customers mainly in the King's Lynn area, including Hindringham.

'We do appreciate how difficult it can be to lose power for such a long time, especially in cold weather and apologise for the inconvenience that this is causing,' he said.

The emergency services had a busy weekend with Norfolk police reporting 90pc of calls had been snow related, mainly people sliding off roads in their cars.

A spokeswoman said: 'We would urge people to take extra care this morning . It is going to be very icy and, even if roads are clear of snow, do not be lulled into a false sense of security.'

While the East of England Ambulance Service warned people to only call 999 in 'true emergencies'.

The service received 1,130 calls on Saturday - more than 200 above a normal Saturday - and many of them could have been seen via another health service.

Paul Leaman, associate director (operational support) for the East of England Ambulance Service, said: 'We are currently responding to calls for emergency assistance across the region and will be using 4 x 4 vehicles to help us reach more isolated locations. However, we are relying on the public's good sense to use the 999 service wisely s which will help us to respond to people who need our assistance for true emergencies.'

Chris Bell, a forecaster at Weatherquest, which is based at the University of East Anglia, said there was a lot of uncertainty about the weather in the next few days but there was a chance it could be a white Christmas.

'The temperature on both Tuesday and Wednesday is likely to be between 2-4C and in shady areas the snow is likely to stick around. On Tuesday we could see a bit more snow or sleet but then it should turn dry with sunny spells.

'It gets interesting from Thursday; it could be cloudy with a risk of sleet or snow at first but one of the computer models brings rain in and leaves it milder for Christmas while another model keeps us on the colder side. At this stage there is a lot of uncertainty.'

Tim Edmunds, duty area manager for Norfolk County Council, said teams had been working 24 hours a day since Thursday, in 12 hour shifts, to grit the 52 priority routes.

'Each time we send out it costs �37,000 and we have been doing five runs a day since Thursday,' he said.

'We have used about 4,000 tonnes of salt so far but we have enough supplies to keep going and are constantly restocking.'

Mr Edmunds reiterated the need for people to take care on untreated roads which he said would be 'treacherous sheets of ice' first thing this morning.

If the bad weather continues Mr Edmunds said they would look to salt some minor roads and footpaths after the major routes completed.

He said: 'If I was a betting man I would say it will be a white Christmas.'

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