There’s a sense of excitement about snow. We listen avidly to any news report that might predict an imminent fall. The moment there is rumour of a local flake, we stare out of the window.
The phone rings. “Is it settling where you are?”
“Yes,” you reply before tweeting: “#uksnow Ludlow 8/10 – a real blizzard here.”
As soon as they are allowed, the kids are out snowballing, sliding and – if it’s the right sort of snow – making snowmen.
But the return of snow so late in March has been more than unwelcome. It’s bad for Ludlow’s tourist industry – numbers were seriously down last year, hit by the miserable weather. The town was almost deserted last Saturday and Sunday.
The problem is compounded because it’s hard for residents to get into town along the icy pavements. Only a car drivers have their way cleared by the councils.
Most the buses ran last Saturday (thanks guys!), but many people could not get to the bus stop because the pavements were lethally icy. And of course, car drivers have to pay to park on the streets on a Sunday now, so there is not much incentive to pop into town.
It is such a shame that, as the town struggles, pedestrians are treated with near contempt. No one in authority seems to care that people struggle to get about in icy conditions. No one in our councils seems to accept that it is their responsibility to get pavements cleared.
Clearance of pavements is the councils’ responsibility. Both Ludlow Town Council and Shropshire should act to ensure that pavements are cleared within hours of any snowfall. But this need not cost us a fortune.
We only have to look across the county border to Telford & Wrekin, to discover a solution. The council operates a voluntary Snow Warden scheme. Snow Wardens are given training, equipment, a supply of salt and insurance. Dozens of other councils have similar schemes. The Snow Wardens agree to clear a certain stretch of pavement – when they are able to and it is safe to do so.
One way of quickly getting the scheme going would be to get council officials, teachers and other public officials to play a role when they cannot get to their workplace. If they can’t get into work because of the snow, those that are physically fit should volunteer to clear nearby pavements.
This would improve the image of public sector officials who are too often maligned despite doing a great job. And it would encourage others to become Snow Wardens.
Snow Wardens. It’s a great idea. It’s very low cost. Why don’t we get this going in Shropshire in time for next winter?
Then we will all be safer on the pavements of Ludlow and all of Shropshire.