On Thursday 17 May, Shropshire Council will discuss a cross-party motion to get pavements cleared during snow events. The idea is to use volunteer snow wardens and increase collaboration between Shropshire Council and town councils.
Councillors from across the political spectrum believe that more to be done by involving the whole community in clearing pavements. They are proposing that Shropshire Council investigates a snow warden scheme. It should also draw up a protocol for its highways team to work in collaboration with town councils across the county.
There were two snow events in the winter of 2017/18, in mid-December and at the beginning of March. Roads were blocked and rail services came to a halt. Shropshire Council’s highways team worked flat out to get roads open and safe. But the council didn’t have enough resources to clear pavements outside town centres. This left many people, especially those with mobility issues, trapped in their homes. Others risked falls by walking on pavements covered in snow and ice.
The motion is being proposed by Green Party councillor, Julian Dean, who represents Porthill in Shrewsbury. He said:
“It is unrealistic to expect Shropshire Council’s highways team to clear the majority of pavements across our huge county. It’s simply not practical. For the council to clear pavements outside town centres would require huge extra expenditure at a time of tightening budgets.
“The idea of this motion is to get everyone who can help working to clear the snow.
“In the March snow episode, we got a good model working in Shrewsbury. Shrewsbury Town Council joined forces with Shropshire Council to get the pavements cleared.
“All our market towns need to be open and working during snow events. We see the Shrewsbury arrangement as a model for working with town councils across the county.”
Andy Boddington is the Lib Dem Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow North. He is seconding the motion. He said:
“This is about making the best use of our resources as a community. I am repeatedly told that residents are not allowed to clear the snow off the pavement in front of their house. People fear they will be sued if someone falls. Neither are the case.
“We have a great volunteering community in this county. We need to empower and encourage volunteers to help during snow events.
“Snow Warden schemes are in operation across the county. Volunteers are given training and a supply of grit. They are also insured. It’s a low cost way of getting a lot achieved in a short space of time.”
This council notes the increasing likelihood of extreme weather events. We further note that Shropshire’s highways service is very stretched during such events and in particular has not been able to offer much help to clear footways. For many residents walking becomes treacherous during periods of snow and ice. They require and deserve assistance as much as those travelling in vehicles.
We note on one occasion earlier this year Shropshire Council approached Shrewsbury Town Council for help and this resulted in a much improved service for pedestrians in the Town centre. Finally, we note that many authorities have a Snow Warden scheme which provides basic equipment, resources, information, training and insurance cover to volunteer individuals and community groups.
Council believes we can do better.
We therefore instruct the chief executive to investigate and cost a snow warden scheme for Shropshire and to bring forward proposals in the light of such investigation.
Council further instructs the chief executive to draw up and pursue the use of a model protocol for partnership working with town and parish councils to enable a joined-up service to improve the treatment and clearing of footways during snow and ice events across the county.
The motion is proposed by Councillor Julian Dean (Green Party), seconded by Councillor Andy Boddington (Lib Dem), with additional named supporters as Harry Taylor and Pam Moseley (both Labour).