Aisha Iqbal: When it comes to dealing with bad weather, we are becoming a nation of snowflakes

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‘Keep calm and carry on’ might be our unofficial national mantra, but it seems it only takes a blizzard or two to derail us, both literally and metaphorically.

Yes, the Beast from the East has arrived, and yes, like an annoying relative not taking the hint, it is refusing to leave.

The beautiful chocolate box scenes of crisp, white blankets of snow across Yorkshire are oddly tranquil and soothing - and a stark contrast to the chaos they have caused.

There have been some inevitable tragedies and near misses, and thoughts have to be with those families and individuals who have been affected.

But the stories of individual fortitude and heroism are also, conversely, an indictment of our apparent lack of collective resilience.

It’s become a bit of a cliché, I know, but we need to look at how other countries deal with inclement weather and the full force of Mother Nature.

Yes, of course, countries that have more snowfall will deal with it better.

But it is, ultimately, just snow - and we are turning into a nation of snowflakes.

On the whole, it has to be said, Leeds has managed to keep running pretty well through the blizzards.

The gritters have been out in force, laying down some of their 5,000-tonne supply.

Leeds City Council’s website tells us there is a year round plan to keep “the most important roads and some major pedestrian areas in Leeds safe and as free as possible from wintry hazards”.

But we have all known about the impending arrival of Storm Emma for at least a week. And still the chaos.

Is there really a need for mass school closures - 256 in Leeds at last count - and train cancellations?

The knock on effect on the workforce is hugely damaging to the economy.

I think the real issues here are not at local level, where individual councils, health services and other public servants have been doing a fantastic job.

It’s a lack of real strategy at national level.

The last serious and wholesale review of our winter weather planning was back in 2010.

The Quarmby report recommended 11 measures to get national Government, local councils, transport providers and the public ready for future winter weather.

It noted that “in most respects local authorities and the transport industry rose to the massive challenge.”

However there were “still lessons to be learned and improvements to be made”.

I’d suggest that there are still many more lessons to be learned.

If the changing climate is going to mean the return of the severe winters of yore (albeit at the start of Spring or whenever Mother Nature fancies) then co-ordination and forethought is going to be key.

It’s not just about practical innovations - heated pavements like Norway, anyone? - but also a look at alternative, flexible ways of working and studying.

Like many things, it comes down to money.

But it also has to be about our responsibility to each other as citizens.

And that’s why the final word has to go to those hardy Loiners and snow heroes who have been going above and beyond to keep the city - and our faith in the human spirit - going in the last few days.

They include the care worker who got stranded on her way to visit a disabled client in Guiseley, so decided to complete her journey on foot, as well as the council gritting staff who have been working 12 hour shifts to keep us all safe.

Mother Nature can do her worst. We’ve got plenty of Yorkshire grit, of all varieties, to fight back.

That’s the real lesson to be learned from this savagely snowy interlude.

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