Clearing snow is a civic duty.

I’m on Snow again, you’ll have to excuse this mini-obsession. The UK needs to stop treating heavy snowfall in the same manner it treats a dusting – and this time I’m not talking about the media. What I’m talking about is the physical way that we’re handling snow. Our obsession with salt, salt reserves and liberally throwing salt onto every highway and byway is bloody ludicrous! Salt only makes a difference if the temperatures are above -8, which in many places in the UK they’re not. Doesn’t matter how much you spread, it won’t make a blind bit of difference.

It’s refreshing to see more snow ploughs on display this year, but they’re not scraping the road anywhere near close enough to avoid humps of slush and we’re not following ploughs with standard road sweepers – they do this in almost every other country with heavy snowfall in Europe; and it’s this step that avoids the slush piles that so plague our major trunk routes. Councils actually need to train their staff to understand what is and isn’t appropriate in snow,  or any other severe weather, so we maintain some level of structural cohesion in our transport network.

Worse thatn that though, is the whinging, endless streams of people whinging they “couldn’t get to work” – “I couldn’t even get out of my drive“: yes dear, that’s because you didn’t shovel or brush it clear did you? You just stomped on the gas in first and spun the wheels till you were satisfied that you’d be going nowhere. Up and down the country people are sitting bone idle at home when a brush or a snow-shovel would have had them out onto reasonably passable roads in a matter of 10 or 15 minutes work.

Of course we do need clarification of the law in the UK to cover your personal civic duty, especially when it comes to clearing snow: elsewhere it’s your civic duty to clear your own drive and the pavement to your house, no fannying about – if the council find you’ve not done it, they’ll bill you for doing it themselves – the result, millions of people clear their own property and immediate roadways allowing gritters, ploughs and sweepers to keep major routes open rather than pootling around every estate with a gang of men salting pavements to ensure Mrs.Miggins’ doesn’t do her hip in.

Eight times in the last 48 hours I’ve heard Health & Safety dragged up as a reason for not clearing your own personal drive and pavement, and yes in the UK someone could sue you – but 1) why don’t you have personal liability insurance? and 2) to sue you, and win they’d have to contest that you maliciously salted or cleared, or  that you’d shown provable negligence in the way you’d done it. Tort law.  A law that’s almost always on your side… so come on, get off your arse, pick up a broom and a shovel and clear your drive, your pavement and the ramp to the road, you’ll be doing yourself and your neighbourhood a real favour.

One response to “Clearing snow is a civic duty.

  1. Agreed re clearing own drive, and preferably the pavement outside too. FWIW I heard a ‘legal expert’ opine that if a home owner made a reasonable attempt to clear their pavement and someone subsequently slipped on it, they would be unlikely to be sued successfully unless they’d deliberately made the pavement more slippery.

    Interesting comments re how other countries deal with snow. It’s exasperating that the UK still grinds to a halt every time it snows, and that no-one is ever held accountable for local authorities’ lack of preparedness. Central government says that they fund Local Authorities every year whether it snows or not, local authorities seem to spend the money on other things, the problem never gets solved.

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