Geoff Hoon has come under fire for his rather tactless comment that people should stop whingeing about the snow, and that if motorists are so concerned they should buy snow chains. However, I have some sympathy with this viewpoint.
When I lived in Germany motorists always had snow chains. They had to. They would also have winter tyres fitted. Clearly the expense of this in this country would be ludicrous, unless your car was absolutely vital to you in all weathers. Councils do have a duty to grit roads, but there is a balance to strike. Should they really invest millions of pounds in grit, gritter lorries and snow ploughs when they might only be needed once every ten or so years? If I were a councillor I doubt whether I'd vote to spend money on that over and above providing new education facilities.
But one things which does annoy me about this weather is that people in Britain seem to take no responsibility for keeping the pavement clear outside their own houses. In Germany and Switzerland it is a legal requirement for people to do that* - and not only that, but to grit the pavement too, if I remember rightly. In this country we just moan about the fact that the council has failed to get the snow of every inch of our pavements. Surely it isn't too much to ask to get people to clear their own part of the pavement each time snow falls?
* Ah, but what if you are old or disabled, I hear you cry? Simple. You arrange for a neighbour to do it. It's called community spirit.