This week has been an interesting week for UK business. We have discovered, surprise surprise, that as a country we are totally unable to cope with any kind of weather outside of the standard drizzle of rain or a sparkle of sunshine. As a Brit I am truly embarrassed to call myself a UK citizen this week. I mean there are countries that have 5-6 times more snow in a day than we saw over the last three days and the wheels of commerce continue to turn. But the good old UK can’t even keep the Underground running..that’s right the underground I mean what the hell does the underground have to do with snow I ask. All buses services in London were ceased which meant most people were left with three choices; a) either make their way in cars, which for London folk is just impossible due to costs etc; b) they walk but that is too far for some; c) phone in sick/work from home. The Federation of Small Businesses have estimated that 20% of the UK workforce, that’s around 6.4 million people did not make it in to work and as of early Tuesday morning they estimated that it had cost the British economy £1.2bn which is probably much higher.
It was not just the public transport system that failed miserably it was also the hi-tech systems that run the UK. Mobile networks creaked heavily under the extra load of trying to call friends and colleagues, it’s reported that some of the networks experienced up to 73% more calls that usual and a steep increase in the number of picture messages being sent as snowmen make rare appearances in gardens.
There was also politicians that venture into the fray making bold statements about how sadly unprepared the country was despite having plenty of warning from the Met Office. Liberal Democrat shadow transport secretary, Norman Baker said it was "an absolute disgrace" the country’s transport networks were unable to cope with bad weather. He went on to say "The lack of preparedness is astounding and damaging for the economy. I have travelled from Stockholm to the Arctic Circle on a train that arrived five minutes early, yet Britain lapses into chaos at the first hint of snow,".
So why was this country so unprepared? I don’t have the answer just an opinion; that is that we are just British, no matter what type of “extreme” weather we experience we just panic with hosepipe bans in summer while pipes lay leaking gallons of water per hour. The economy stops when snow falls because a lot of people see it as a great way to get out of work. Either way we need to sort ourselves out and get prepared as the country cannot afford too many of these “snow” days..