The pavements in Ludlow, and across much of the county, have been lethal in the last few days. The snow partially melted on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. It then refroze. Pedestrians were at great risk. Several slipped over and I was among them.
There will be a review of gritting priorities in Ludlow early in the New Year. But this will not change the reality that Shropshire Council doesn’t have enough resources to clear every road and path in this huge county.
We need to think about we work together as a community to get the paths clear. I think it is time to look at a neighbourhood snow warden scheme. Many councils have schemes in place, including neighbouring Telford and Wrekin.
Nearly five years ago, I called for a snow warden scheme for Shropshire. The idea is that volunteers are given training, equipment, a supply of salt and insurance to clear stretches of their local pavements. People need to be fit enough to do this. But when the snow is fresh, this is not a great effort.
When I suggested this idea in 2013, former Shropshire councillors rubbished the idea saying: “It would take a Chinese Army to clear the pavements.” Local councillors and the council leadership have changed. I hope that there might be a better reception of the proposal now. In any event, we could set this up locally if Shropshire Council doesn’t want to adopt the scheme.
This week, I was shovelling and gritting the steep slope down Chestnut Grove towards the bus stop. A man passed and said: “Won’t you be sued if someone falls?” Here is the official advice from the government and the Met Office:
“Don’t be put off clearing paths because you’re afraid someone will get injured. Remember, people walking on snow and ice have a responsibility to be careful themselves. Follow the advice from the Department for Transport below to make sure you clear the pathway safely and effectively. And don’t believe the myths – it’s unlikely you’ll be sued or held legally responsible for any injuries if you have cleared the path carefully.”
Derbyshire Council has produced a video on how to spread grit. Its main message is that you don’t need to spread much to make a difference.
A snow warden scheme is in operation in Telford and Wrekin. A quick internet search shows similar schemes in Derbyshire, Devon, Lambeth and Warwickshire. There are many others. And there also parish level schemes. Just one example is Painswick in Gloucestershire. Many parishes and town councils work in collaboration with the local highways authority. Shropshire Council has produced a guide to gritting footpaths.
There will be a review of gritting priorities in and around Ludlow as soon as we can arrange it in the New Year. Let us know about what your priorities are and what hazards you faced this week. You can comment below or email me.
Meanwhile, if the snow falls again don’t be afraid of clearing your local pavement or your neighbour’s path. In Ludlow, we are here to help each other.
And if you are clearing your drive, please don’t block the pavement with snow.