Angry motorists caught in lengthy tailbacks yesterday criticised a council for failing to get gritters out in time as the big freeze continued to grip the Midlands.

Despite warnings earlier in the week of the approaching Arctic snap, motorists were forced to negotiate treacherously icy roads yesterday morning in Willenhall, Darlaston, Aldridge and the M6 motorway at Junction 10 in Walsall.

About two inches of snow brought traffic to a standstill and motorists complained that roads in Walsall had not been gritted. Walsall Council yesterday said it believed grit laid in previous days would have been sufficient to deal with Wednesday night's weather.

At one stage, the A454 at Willenhall was completely closed due to black ice and a spate of accidents. Andy Clarke, headteacher at Darlaston Community Science College, in Herbert's Park Road, said: "In Walsall, I have never seen the roads so bad and precarious.

"I have to come through Dudley and Sandwell and their roads were gritted but it seems Walsall didn't. It was well publicised a few days ago that we were going to be hit by this weather, so personally I'm quite surprised that nothing has been done."

Mr Clarke said one member of staff suffered an accident about a mile and a half from the school and lessons were delayed by 45 minutes as teachers struggled to get in.

Councillor Marco Longhi, Walsall Council cabinet member for transport, said: "We depend on weather alerts from external organisations to plan our gritting operations and we appear not to have received warning of snow on Wednesday night.

"We had gritted extensively over the last few days, putting 150 tonnes of grit down with no rain to wash it away. We decided that previous gritting operations would be sufficient."

Temperatures yesterday plunged to as as low as minus 16C as wintry weather continued to sweep across parts of the country.