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!
Its very icy this week and the pavements and footpaths are horribly slippery – particularly in the shadows. Over the last 3 winters I’ve funded about 25 grit-bins around Woodbridge from my locality budget. They have been placed in areas where volunteers have offered to help keep pavements safe. This means there ought to be one near YOU.
(And if there isn’t you know why!)
Please think of your elderly neighbours and those more vulnerable than yourself, who may be housebound because of fear of falling. Winter is not only the time for colds and flu, its also a peak time for broken bones. If – as happens in other countries – each of us made ourselves responsible for clearing the pavement outside our house, many problems would be solved just like that!
OK, it hasn’t started to snow yet, but some of the pavements are already slippery. Over the last three years I’ve been funding grit bins for those Woodbridge neighbourhoods who asked for them and now is the time to start using a handful or two of the contents to keep crossings and bus stops safe. in fact I nipped out before 8 this morning and gritted the Duke of York bus stop and crossing this morning. Just in case.
And 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. At this time of year 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.
Friends driving into Suffolk from adjoining counties have often commented on the winter difference when they cross our county boundary. Suffolk is clearly doing things right! Yet it seems to be fashionable amongst many Suffolk car-drivers to criticise our heroic road gritters pretty well without thought or reflection. Me – I have nothing but the utmost admiration for them. Suffolk’s highways gritting service is run via a handful of people working throughout the nights and they do a fantastic job – without expectation of any kind of thanks at all.
Now that Balfour Beatty is set to take over Suffolk’s highway road maintenance services, we must hope that they will continue to support our winter roads – and the gritters themselves – at the current level of excellence!