Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Gritting: Its Health and Safety Gone Mad

Its pretty clear that all local authorities have some questions to answer about their response to the recent cold snap - in particular their inability to grit roads, footpaths and cycleways sensibly.

One of the issues may be that several groups share the responsibility - I think householders should take on more of the role of keeping paths clear near their house, the highways authority (i.e. the County Council) needs to take care of gritting the public highway, at frequencies appropriate to the type of road/footpath, (which must include gritting key cycle routes in Cambridge), and the City Council is responsible for footpaths around its own housing estates. More heavily used routes, areas around key community facilities and areas with elderly populations should get priority.

Aparantly, the City Council no longer grits paths on its estates, even those with many elderly people. Speaking to one Council official today, there is a rumour in the City Council that the reason grit is no longer used in City Homes areas is down to the increased risk of the Council being sued - if a path is gritted, it is feared that residents who slip in ice might be more inclined to sue the Council, as the Council has 'advertised' that the path is safe by gritting it. I've no idea if this is the real reason (I suspect money has more to do with it), but if so, then health and safety regulations really have gone mad. There are questions to be asked.

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