Winter Weather Preparations

The MET Office is predicting sub-zero temperatures for Reading and likely snowfall over the next few days.

Keep up to date

In the event of disruption to Council services, please follow our social media channels – @readingcouncil and facebook/readingcouncil. Visit our Winter Weather page, which will also be regularly updated.

Roads

The Council has an established a Winter Maintenance Plan which outlines where and when roads will be gritted during cold weather. It can be found at  www.reading.gov.uk/winter-road-maintenance

The Highways Team is prepared for the current freezing conditions and possible snow. Salt stocks are at a healthy level and the Council’s contractor will deliver as many salt runs as required during the cold snap. The Council is also well stocked for Urea and the in-house team is on standby to treat the Town Centre pedestrianised areas in advance of any heavy snowfall.

Waste Collections

All bin crews are out working the usual rounds. In the event of severe weather there is potential for some disruption. If there is a delay in your usual bin collection time, please leave your bin out and crews will collect it when they can.

Please be aware that green bin collections may also be affected where the contents are frozen.

Schools

If any schools are closed due to the weather, parents should in the first instance be contacted by their school. Parents can also check  individual school websites for updates and listen to BBC Radio Berkshire for news of school closures in their area.

Homelessness

When temperatures fall to below freezing for three consecutive nights, the Council activates its Severe Weather Emergency Provision plan – or SWEP for short. This is to ensure homeless people do not have to bed down outside in freezing conditions.

The Council works throughout the year with voluntary and community sector partners to help people who are sleeping rough, but extra emergency beds are made available once SWEP is activated.

Local services provided by St Mungo’s, Launchpad Reading, social housing provider Riverside and the Salvation Army, work in partnership to ensure that anyone at risk of sleeping rough during severe weather is offered emergency accommodation. Hostels funded by the council prepare to open up their communal areas to accommodate as many extra people as possible.

St Mungo’s carry out assessments and offer advice to anyone using emergency beds. During this time, extra support and advice is also available to prevent people from returning to sleeping rough.  FAITH Christian Group also operates Bed for the Night which offers 18 bed spaces for homeless people with local connections throughout January and February.

All of this is in addition to the Council’s usual work to help rough sleepers which continues throughout the year. For more information on what the Council does to help rough sleepers all year around, go to www.reading.gov.uk/roughsleeping.

Anyone who is worried about someone sleeping rough can report it at www.streetlink.org.uk

Stay Well

Very cold weather can have a serious impact on health and wellbeing, especially for vulnerable adults, including older people, people with health conditions and people with disabilities, as well as families with young children.

Public Health England advice can be found here: www.gov.uk/government/news/cold-weather-alerts-and-health-warnings-issued#top-tips.

People are being encouraged to share the advice with family and friends and check in on vulnerable family, friends and neighbours.

If you’re worried about a relative or elderly neighbour, contact Reading Borough Council on 0118 937 3747 (01344 786 543 out-of-hours emergencies only) or call the Age UK helpline on 0800 678 1174 (8am-7pm every day).

It is a good idea to keep a supply of medicines, and tinned, frozen and long-life foods to avoid  going out if it is icy and make a list of emergency numbers.

Speak to your pharmacist as soon as you start to feel unwell, even if it is just a cold or cough. The NHS non-emergency number 111 is available to contact for out of hours advice. It’s fast, easy and free to speak to a highly trained adviser, supported by healthcare professionals. They will ask a series of questions to assess symptoms and immediately direct people to the best medical care. For further advice on keeping well visit www.nhs.uk/staywell

Help with Heating

If you can, heat your home to at least 18 degrees C (65F). Winter Watch offers help with heating for residents who are on a low income and either over 60, have very young children, have a disability or health concerns. It is available until 31st March. Visit www.reading.gov.uk/winterwatch or call 0118 937 3747 for more information.

Victoria Nickless

For media enquiries about this release email victoria.nickless@reading.gov.uk or call 0118 937 3957