During the late December 2017 spell of bad weather, a number of questions were asked as to why Glos. County Council (GCC), or indeed Bourton Parish Council, did not clear all roads or footpaths in the village.
GCC’s first priority is to keep the strategic road network running by clearing main roads to ensure supplies and traffic can get through - in Bourton, this means Station Rd, Meadow Way, Moore Rd, Lansdowne and Rissington Rd. This is done admirably with the use of gritting vehicles and local Snow Plough Operators. hey do not have sufficient means to clear and grit secondary roads – when you consider the number of secondary roads throughout the district, and the geographical spread of communities over a very large area, it’s evident this would not be achievable. Footpaths are not cleared for a number of reasons, namely cost, resources and sheer impracticability when you again consider the number of footpaths in any one community.
The Parish Council has limited resources it can call on to ensure grit bins are full and re-stocked during winter. Each of the 12 village grit bins takes approximately 8-10 bags of grit to fill – it’s therefore easy to understand the amount of grit stocks that can be gone through in a bad weather event, as well as the impact on the Council’s limited manpower resources in re-filling these.
The Parish Council also maintains a supply of grit/salt that can be given out to residents or businesses for use on public areas only, as well as lending out grit spreading equipment which spreads the grit evenly and thereby maximises stocks. As in most communities across the country, resilience in bad weather relies to a large degree on individuals (both residents and businesses/traders) pulling together and supplementing the work of the county and parish councils.
If each property owner, particularly business in the village centre, could clear the footpath in front of their own property as soon as possible after snow falls this would help enormously, particularly in keeping the High St clear so residents and visitors can access local shops and services. In reality, this is really considered good practice for any responsible property owner. The cost of buying in 1 or 2 bags of salt/grit is probably within the means of most businesses, and household salt is available at a very low cost, and is very effective in keeping paths free of ice once cleared. For those unable to buy in their own stocks, they can collect small quantities of grit (eg 2-3 bags) and borrow grit spreading equipment from the Parish Council for use on public areas only. The Council will also re-stock the grit bins around the village as soon as possible after these become empty. However, again we would ask that this grit is used responsibly and not spread in clumps which depletes the stocks quickly.
We’d therefore ask that residents and businesses prepare now for any future bad weather by buying in grit/salt in advance, where possible. It would also be helpful if residents in all streets could get together now and form small volunteer groups which could be mobilised promptly during bad weather to help clear paths in their area, and assist those in their street who are less able to help themselves. When a bad weather forecast is issued, they are asked to grit paths in advance, and clear snow as soon as possible after it falls. Where residents or businesses are unable to do so, please make arrangements to collect grit and borrow equipment from the Council during office hours, and return the equipment promptly so others can use this.
Contrary to many people’s understanding there are no laws which prevent you from clearing snow and ice on the pavement outside your homes or from public areas. However, it’s obvious that this should be done responsibly and with due care for yourself and for others. Basic guidelines are that snow should be cleared if possible when loose and easier to move, be responsible about where you are moving snow to, do not use water on paths as this will turn to ice, and spread salt afterwards which will prevent re-freezing. In respect of the use of equipment and snow clearance in general, we have some guidelines from The Met Office (https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/barometer/advice/your-home/the-snow-code).
This is about communities helping themselves and each other, and we very much hope that everyone will come on board and help their fellow residents and neighbours in Bourton in winter months. Thank you for your cooperation.