Common sense approach to snow and ice
Have you heard the story about the well
meaning person who tried to clear snow and ice from the pavement
outside their house but was then sued when someone else slipped and
fell on it?
The Council’s Winter Maintenance Policy for
2011/2012 now incorporates the latest government advice which
dispels this urban myth that you may be liable if someone else
slips or falls on an area you have treated. Pedestrians and drivers
have a responsibility to be careful themselves and there have been
no cases in the UK of people being sued for clearing snow.
Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said:
“We are committed to doing all we can this winter once again to
keep the Borough moving and we have worked hard in the warmer
months to ensure we have all the supplies of salt needed. We have
also ensured that we have the right equipment, such as our new snow
plough quad bike, so that we are fully prepared for the colder
“However I also want to encourage a common
sense approach to dealing with snow and ice in public places. The
new Borough Council winter maintenance policy reassures local
residents that they can clear areas such as the pavement outside
their properties, without the unfounded fears of being sued by
Tips for clearing snow and ice:
Clear the snow or ice early in the
It’s easier to move fresh, loose snow rather
than hard snow that has packed together from people walking on it.
So if possible, start removing the snow and ice in the morning. If
you remove the top layer of snow in the morning, any sunshine
during the day will help melt any ice beneath. You can then cover
the path with salt before nightfall to stop it refreezing
Use salt or sand – not
If you use water to melt the snow, it may
refreeze and turn to black ice. Black ice increases the risk of
injuries as it is invisible and very slippery. You can prevent
black ice by spreading some salt on the area you have cleared. You
can use ordinary table or dishwasher salt – a tablespoon for each
square metre you clear should work. Do not use the salt found in
salting bins – this will be needed to keep the roads clear.
Be careful not to spread salt on plants or
grass as it may cause them damage.
If you don’t have enough salt, you can also
use sand or ash. These won’t stop the path icing over as well as
salt, but will provide good grip under foot.
Take care where you move the
When you’re shovelling snow, take care where
you put it so it doesn’t block people’s paths or drains. Make sure
you make a path down the middle of the area to be cleared first, so
you have a clear surface to walk on. Then shovel the snow from the
centre of the path to the sides.
Offer to clear your neighbours’
If your neighbour will have difficulty getting
in and out of their home, offer to clear snow and ice around their
property as well. Check that any elderly or disabled neighbours are
alright in the cold weather. If you’re worried about them, contact
Bedford Borough Council.