GRITTERS were out on major routes from midnight onwards in Poole yesterday in a bid to keep the town moving after heavy snow overnight.

All main routes were passable - but many small roads remained treacherous.

Bourne Valley Road and Cromer Road in Branksome, and Dorchester Road and Rowland Avenue in Oakdale were reported to be very icy and dangerous, and many other side roads were similarly hazardous.

The council's four gritting vehicles had salted the 69 miles of 'priority one' routes three times by midday, and subsequently 25-miles of 'priority two' roads were also treated.

All major urban roads and access to emergency services such as hospitals and fire stations are included on the salting network.

And council staff have also been hand-gritting busy pedestrian areas, including the High Street, Ashley Road, the route from the bus station to the Poole railway station.

A spokesman said: "The council has sufficient stocks of salt and will be continuing to talk to suppliers about further supplies.

Wilts and Dorset buses stayed running - although with a reduced service avoiding untreated side roads.

Waterloo Estate, Sandys Lane, Turlin Moor, Bearwood Eastate, Upton Country Park and Palmeston Road were among the areas the usual bus services couldn't reach.

All but 12 schools in the borough were closed. Only St Aldhelm's Academy, St Aldhelm's Combined, St Joseph's Combined, St Mary's Combined, Courthill First, Hamworthy Middle, Heatherlands First, Hillbourne School and Nursery, Bearwood Primary, Broadstone First, Canford Heath Middle and Canford Heath First schools remained open.

The first of the two Poole Schools Carol Concerts due to take place at the Lighthouse last night was cancelled, and tonight's will be too if the schools remain closed today. No adult learning classes in the town went ahead.

Refuse collections were suspended due to the snow and were "unlikley" to take place at all today, said the council.

Residents have been advised to take their bins in if they haven't been collected by 5pm and put them out on the next scheduled collection day.

Up to two extra bags of rubbish will be accepted at the next collection. Binmen have been drafted in to help with the mammoth gritting operation underway.

All seven polling stations for the Old Town by-election in Poole are open.

Several shops in Poole's Dolphin Centre opened late as staff struggled to make it. A number of stores didn't stay open for the late night shopping last night to allow staff to get home before conditions worsened.

The Poole high street market was also far smaller than usual as traders stayed away.