It is now five years since the Woodbridge Volunteer Winter Pavement Gritting Scheme was first set up at my instigation in the winter of 2010 with a locality grant for grit bins. (Over the past 5 years I have made grants of over £5000 to keep this scheme going).
Can I please reiterate what I’ve said in the past, – slippery footways are an issue not for some imaginary ‘them’ but for all of us. Lets face it, we can easily grit a local pavement or two when we see the need. When it is icy, the people who run the gritting lorries are out day and night trying to keep as much of the thousands of miles of Suffolk roads passable as possible.
However, on that basis for the last 5 years I have been the only councillor in Woodbridge to be out on every icy day as a gritting volunteer. This is no light thing. Every icy day over the last five years I have shovelled and gritted the whole of California, and the Ipswich road path down to John Grose – sometimes down to the Notcutts roundabout – well over a mile of ice and grit every time.
Astonishingly I have often been approached by residents – often much younger – unwilling to help grit communal paths, but wanting to use the grit for their own driveways!
I’m tough but I am middle-aged and my health is not what it was. Other long-term volunteers are in the same boat.If the scheme is to continue we need more volunteers. There are many able bodied people in Woodbridge who should be able – and probably will be willing – to help.
Woodbridge is a town of vulnerable pedestrians, narrow paths and steep hills. Before I instituted the gritbin scheme, many people were housebound every time the weather was icy. We must not return to this.
So what are we to do? I would suggest Woodbridge Town Council puts a well-worded notice on each bin asking for local volunteers.
The Highways department tells me today that ice is is not expected ‘before the end of October’. Not so cheering, considering it is the 27th today!