THE recent severe winter weather seems to have generated a good deal of debate in the newspapers, and other media, creating a number of constructive suggestions, as well as some adverse comments.
I would like to address one of the most common concerns raised; is that you may render yourself liable to be sued in the event of clearing snow outside your own property.
I would suggest anyone facing this particular problem that they should go on the internet Google ‘snow clearance – guidance’, and follow the recommendations in the Directgov document ‘Clearing snow and ice from pavements yourself’.
It is unlikely that you could be successfully sued, provided you treat the surface with salt or grit, after clearing.
In answer to those who objected to my proposals – that offenders on community service and able-bodied benefit recipients be employed in clearing footpaths and pavements – I would naturally expect that they would be covered by both employee and public liability insurance.
In the case of benefit claimants, it should be made possible to pay a supplement to their benefits without affecting their entitlements.
Among other suggestions worth consideration is fitting small ploughs to footpath sweeping and mowing machines.
Improved availability, in the shops, of more suitable ice grippers and footwear could also help.
I carried out a comparative assessment of risks to which pedestrians were exposed both before and after snow and ice removal; and judged that personal injury risk could be reduced by some 60 per cent, if effective clearing and treating is carried out.
One can understand the dilemma faced by local councils coping with budgets drastically reduced by central government, and no one wants to face huge increases in council tax, but the foregoing recommendations should only have a minimal effect on actual costs.
Actually they could well achieve overall savings when considering the enormous increase in work load on the hospital A&E departments due to increased slip and fall injuries.
One option that is not available to either the local authorities, or ourselves, is doing nothing when the next snow storms strike.