Supporting Local Communities in Self Help - Footway Treatment
What is Ice Busters?
Ice Busters is a County Council highways initiative supporting self help groups by providing them with advice and grit/brine to treat locally important footways and pedestrian routes during the winter months keeping them clear of snow and ice.
The initiative is aimed at Parish Councils and residents associations who are able to mobilise dedicated volunteers to treat the footways during periods of prolonged cold weather and clear snow over the winter.
The treatment options include the application of grit or a brine solution which will be provided by Staffordshire’s Highway Teams.
The amount of grit or brine provided should reflect the extent of the areas being treated. Depending on the severity of the winter, stocks may need to be replenished.
The initiative also offers a structure for the groups to extend the self help to other, non-highway areas by supplementing the highway resources. Highway Teams may be able to assist with this.
How do we get involved?
To become involved you’ll first need to contact your local Community Highway Liaison team on 0300 111 8000.
With the support and direction of the Highway Teams an action plan will need to be drawn up and agreed. The plan should include information on:-
Which footways are to be treated and under what conditions they will be treated
How the decision is made to treat
The chosen treatment
How it will be applied and storage details.
We understand that self help groups need to make fully informed decisions and on top of providing the grit, practical advice is offered on treatment options, storage, planning gritting activities and updates on weather conditions. An action plan detailing how the service could be delivered locally can then be developed and agreed.
One area of concern raised by Parish Councils interested in joining the initiative has been the potential legal implications. The advice that we give is to follow the principals of Lord Young’s paper ‘Common Sense, Common Safety’. This paper can be found on the internet (http://www.number10.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/402906_CommonSense_acc.pdf), however the most pertinent section of particular interest reads as follows:
Good Samaritan clause
One of the great misconceptions, often perpetuated by the media, is that we can be liable for the consequences of any voluntary acts on our part. During winter 2009/10, advice was given on television and radio to householders not to clear the snow in front of their properties in case any passerby would fall and then sue. This is another manifestation of the fear of litigation. In fact there is no liability in the normal way, and the Lord Chief Justice himself is reported as saying that he had never come across a case where someone was sued in these circumstances.
Yet this belief is particularly pernicious, as it may deter people from engaging in organised voluntary activities in the mistaken belief that they can be sued should anything go wrong. People who seek to do good in our society should not fear litigation as a result of their actions.
Extensive information about Winter Operations is available on line, and your community representatives are encouraged to explore the Highways pages of the County Council web site. Your local Community Highway Liaison Manager is always available should you wish to discuss how you and your community can become involved in making a difference.