SCHOOLS were forced to close and bin collections were cancelled as snow caused chaos across Bolton.

Several bus routes had to be changed because of the weather and police dealt with a rise in antisocial behaviour complaints — because of people throwing snowballs.

Paramedics were called out to several weather-related incidents and Bolton Mountain Rescue service was on standby to help yesterday.

And temperatures are expected to drop to -5C for the next three days, with the snow predicted to return to Bolton on Friday.

Drivers are being urged to take extra care on the roads and allow more time for journeys as travel has been disrupted.

Schools across the borough were closed as staff struggled to get in and because the school sites themselves were deemed unsafe.

Parents were told on school websites, social networking websites, such as Facebook and Twitter and via text messages.

A Bolton Council spokesman said: “The decision to close a school is taken by the headteacher in consideration of the individual circumstances at their own premises.”

Becky Rushton, office manager at Harper Green, added: “We took the decision to close first thing due to the weather.

“Staff were struggling to get in to school. Some pupils arrived but they were sent home as soon as they got here.”

Bin collections were also disrupted, as the council said they could not be collected for health and safety reasons.

Residents who were due to have their bins collected yesterday are asked to put them out again next week.

The hospital said no services were cancelled.

Accident and emergency has not seen particularly high numbers but a few people had been treated after being involved in minor car crashes over the weekend.

Bolton Council staff have been busy gritting all designated routes to try to ease travel disruption.

A council spokesman said: “The gritting teams have been out all day and will be out continuously gritting all the main roads. Our teams have been gritting around the clock since Friday evening to ensure there’s plenty of grit on the roads and to keep Bolton's main roads safe and clear of ice and snow.

“We are monitoring the weather conditions continuously and the council’s fleet of gritting vehicles have completed six full route grits since Friday spreading more than 420 tonnes of grit.

“On a full route grit, we cover 510km of roads around the borough, which is just over half of our total road network, and all the main roads and major bus routes are covered.

“To keep town centres as clear of snow and ice as possible, we have gritted footpaths in Bolton town centre and our outer town centres.

“Grit bins are being refilled and we would like to remind residents that grit in grit bins is for use on the public highway and footpaths but not on driveways. Grit for private use can be purchased from Heaton Fold garden centre in Chorley New Road, near Overdale Crematorium.

“For the latest gritting updates please follow our twitter feed @boltoncouncil and check our website.”

An 11-year-old girl was taken to hospital by ambulance as a precaution yesterday after a sledging accident at Eatock Lodge at 12.30pm and an 18-year-old man suffered a back injury after coming off a sledge in Hough Lane, Bolton, on Saturday.

A 74-year-old man slipped on ice on Saturday at 5.30pm in Daubhill and was taken to hospital. In Belmont Road on Saturday a 29-year-old woman slipped on ice at 12.45pm and suffered a neck injury.

Bolton Mountain Rescue was involved in an unusual rescue when they had to help pull a car out of snow.

The vehicle was travelling up Winter Hill as a family were going to go sledging, but they went too far off the road and got stuck.

Fortunately the team was out assessing the condition of the road should they be called upon when they spotted the family in difficulty.

Steve Fletcher, of Bolton Mountain Rescue, said: “I think they were quite glad we were passing and able to help.”

As the cold weather is expected to continue for the rest of the week, Bolton CCG is asking healthy people to do their bit by avoiding attending A&E unless it is an emergency and to look out for elderly neighbours, friends and relatives.

Dr Wirin Bhatiani, chairman of Bolton CCG said: “We know each winter we can expect more people to fall ill because of the cold weather. When temperatures fall, this increases the risk of respiratory problems and the number of people who have heart attacks and strokes.

“For this reason we need to ensure A&E and GP surgeries are accessible for the most vulnerable people, and ask others to self-care or visit a pharmacy for advice as a first port of call.

“I would urge people to be good neighbours and make an extra effort to check on your neighbours during the cold snap. Vulnerable older people are more susceptible to the cold‚ so a quick visit to ensure everyone is warm and well can make all the difference.”

People are being urged to keep their home warm and aim for a temperature of 21c in rooms which are used regularly. It is better to leave the heating on longer rather than turning it up higher.

Other advice includes only going out if it is necessary and wearing well-gripping shoes and several layers of clothes.

Good hand hygiene can help prevent the spread of norovirus. If you do have vomiting or diarrhoea, please do not visit your GP or pharmacy, if possible please call ahead first for advice. Please do not visit family or friends in hospitals or nursing homes until you have been clear of any diarrhoea and vomiting symptoms for 48 hours.