Last summer Shropshire councillors agreed to set up a volunteer snow warden scheme across the county. The cabinet agreed to push ahead with the scheme in September.
Yesterday I was told “Due to other priorities, and particularly having a new highways contractor to mobilise and the unusually high number of potholes due to the harsh winter, we unfortunately will not be able to get snow wardens up and running this year.”
This is frustrating new as we face snow overnight tonight. The swingeing cuts to the council’s highways budgets means that it has no hope of clearing most pavements – and has never cleared most local pavements anyway. We need to empower volunteers to clear and grit short stretches of pavement.
There is no law preventing you from clearing and gritting public pavements. You are very unlikely to be sued if someone slips because pedestrians have a duty of care to themselves when walking on snow and ice. However, many people still don’t feel empowered to grit or clear pavements. That was the idea behind the snow warden scheme, proposed by Councillor Julian Dean and myself. Volunteers would be insured, trained, provided with a hi viz vest, a shovel and grit. But it seems we will have to wait another year before we get a scheme that has been in place in Telford and Wrekin for years.
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.
Last year, we witnessed people using council grit for their drives but spreading any on the pavements outside their homes. That heinous antisocial behaviour in my book. And if you are clearing your drive, please don’t block the pavement with snow. That’s not only antisocial, it forces pedestrians out into the traffic.
If every household cleared and gritted a short stretch of pavement and a bit more for elderly or inform neighbours, life would be so much easier and safer for pedestrians.
Priority for clearing the highway in Shropshire
Shropshire Council’s Winter Service Operational Plan says the highways network should be cleared in the following priority order:
a) The Minimum Winter Network
b) The Defined network
c) The Secondary network including Car Parks
d) Accesses to villages, hamlets, rural communities and schools.
e) Residential roads and footways.
f) Roads to single premises.
Defined footway and cycleways will be treated as part of the Secondary Routes. Other footways and cycleways will be treated when resources allow.