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!
When the weather is like it is now, with thick snow covering the pavements and turning to icy lumps, please don’t wait for ‘someone to do something.’ Get out your shovels and clear any bits of pavement you know will be dangerous – particularly for your elderly neighbours – before the snow becomes ice. I’ve made sure there’s a grit bin anywhere anyone has asked for one (funded from my Locality budget), so grit as well as shovel and there won’t be any extra broken hips and wrists this year.
This morning I spent four hours shovelling and gritting a path up California, across the Ipswich Road and down the Ipswich Road footway to the John Grose garage (my pedometer made this 3.5km of paths shovelled). Huge thanks is due to the three volunteers who helped me. By tomorrow morning these routes would have been ice.
Oh, and by the way – don’t listen to anyone telling you they can’t clear and grit because they are are ‘afraid of being sued’. This is a common story but I have yet to discover anyone who has ever been sued!
A lawyer tells me that anyone ungrateful enough to sue someone who cleared the footway would have to prove they intended to harm people by clearing the snow!
If you are very anxious read Directgov’s formal advice here, but don’t make an excuse to stop yourself helping others. If you are fit enough to help people who are not, please do so.
(Update: in fact today, Monday, a man waiting at the bus stop by the Duke of York kindly used my spare spade to help clear the bus stop area. The only thing that stops people helping out is a lack of will!)
Remember, one day we will be the ones relying on other people to help us out a bit.