AN emergency hotline has been set up to help anyone Rowley Regis, Blackheath and Cradley Heath trapped in their homes.

The line is being run by Sandwell Council in partnership with Sandwell Homes.

Council Leader Cllr Darren Cooper said: "We are experiencing the worst winter weather conditions for more than 20 years and we are aware that a number of residents and particularly the elderly may find themselves in difficult situations because they cannot get out of their homes.

"Normally we only have snow for a day or two but we are experiencing real arctic conditions that are affecting everyone. And at the moment there is no sign of it ending.

"It could well be that some people are having difficulty getting out to get food and it is those sort of people we want to help."

Cllr Cooper said it was also vital that residents kept an eye on their neighbours while the weather is so bad.

"It only takes a couple of minutes to pop round and check that they are safe and warm and have enough food."

But he stressed that the hotline is for genuine emergencies only in the bad weather conditions.

"We are lucky that Sandwell Homes has a number of 4x4 vehicles that can be used to get out to people in genuine difficulties," he added.

Cllr Cooper said this action has been taken because forecasts are that more snow with low temperatures could come at the weekend.

And he said he would like to thank people who are already looking after their neighbours. "They are showing good community spirit," he added.

The emergency hotline number is 0121 500 5500.