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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 months. 


“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 someone.”


Tips for clearing snow and ice:

Clear the snow or ice early in the day:

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 overnight.


Use salt or sand – not water

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 snow

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’ paths

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.

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