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Slippery paths

I have been in Cambridge today. The roads were fine. However the paths in residential areas were like skating rinks.


Showing 17 of 17
Sally C
isn't it time we went for the european thing of clearing the pavement in front of our own home or shop ? I noticed a nearby shop had put sand on the pavements yesterday
Sharon C
When I was young (And I am not that old) every morning the paths were cleared to the gate then out to the road, all the shops cleared their fronts as then they were actually interested in getting customers during snowy snaps.  I remember the cameradery of being out with neighbours doing the same thing clearing not only our own paths but if we knew there were elderly neighbours doing theirs too.  
Jacqui S
I agree we should adopt this. I cleared my path and the neighbours then salted to avoid slipping. I would be happy to join the snowing clearing team for my street but could not do the whole street on my own. What annoys me is that we are contantly preached about 'Green Issues' yet all the councils think about is keeping the traffic moving and blow the pedestrians. We need to be safe too and be able to go shopping without fear of falling. On Monday I watched council workers clear the entrance to a car park and piled all the snow on the path!
David T
the scheme as stated by the council is not as strait forward as it could be we tried and failed to get a salt bin as the bin would have to be off road and of pathways the same reasons given are health and safety the same reason shops don't clear outside there fronts if you fall on ice it's your fault if it has been cleared by a   third party they could be held responsible
Mafia Mumma
According to the guidelines issued by the Council for their voluntary snow clearance scheme they state: "remember - people walking on snow and ice have a responsiblity to be careful themselves.  Don't be put off because you are afraid someone will get injured.........You would only be liable if your efforts made the pavement less safe than it was with snow and ice undisturbed and as a result someone is injured."   It's a pity this isn't publicised more.   The problem today is that we are a "compensation society" and everyone is looking for a way to claim money.
Linda H
I watched Council in the High Street they cleared the pavements with a machine someone sprinkled salt then another one swept and pushed all the salt into the side
Trevor G
I think most of us adults are like children,I love the snow and the first thing I do when there has been a lot of snow is to get my coat on sweep the paths and maybe make a snowman.  When I was stationed in Germany it was common place for all householders to clear their paths and the pavements surrounding their property.  it would be so much better for the older people if that was the case in this country.  Basically we have become lazy and expect the Council and other people to make our pavements passable.  Sad state of affairs.
Patricia M
I seem to remember being told back in the distant past that if somebody slipped and did themselves an injury on snow or ice that had not been cleared, this was an Act of God but if a householder or shop keeper made an effort to clear the path and then somebody slipped and hurt themselves, the shopkeeper or householder could be held responsible and possibly sued. 

Does anybody know if this is correct?
Jacqui S

After a little research I found this on

Urge your council to make local pavements safe for everyone this winter.

Icy and snowy pavements are a danger to us all during the winter months.

Every winter, thousands of people in the UK are admitted to hospital after slipping on ice or snow. If you’re older, disabled or have a pushchair these ice-rink conditions can make it almost impossible to venture outdoors.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Your council has a legal duty to keep pavements safe.

Help us make sure councils do their bit and keep pavements ice-free this winter.

What's the council’s responsibility to deal with icy pavements?

Councils have a legal responsibility to keep pavements safe. Under section 41 of the Highways Act 1980, a council has a duty to ensure that the highway is safe to use, as far as reasonable, and specifically that it is not made dangerous for pedestrians by snow and ice. The highway includes the footway (as defined in section 329 of the same Act). On top of this, under section 150 of the Highways Act 1980, councils have a duty to remove a deposit of snow from the highway if it is an obstacle. The public can complain to a magistrate if this duty is not carried out.

Can councils realistically do anything about this?

They can and they should - they have the legal duty to ensure clear and safe highways, including pavements. Living Streets has collected some great examples where councils have taken this issue seriously. Realistically councils will need to prioritise where they use scarce resources – which is why it is so important to make the case that a huge proportion of the most essential local journeys, particularly for some of the most vulnerable people, are made on foot.

What can I do?
  • Grab a shovel and help out! You could clear the pavement in front of your house (see below for more guidance on this), or help older people in your neighbourhood.
  • Perhaps your council has a volunteering scheme. If so, take part - and let us know either below or on Twitter. And if not, encourage them to start one.
What are Living Streets' top gritting tips?
  • Rock salt is the most commonly used ‘grit’ – it’s relatively cheap, quick to apply and easy to spread. Bags of rock salt can be purchased from most large builders' merchants at an average cost of £4.00 for a 25kg bag.
  • Get your neighbours involved! Working together to grit your local street is a great way to strengthen your community and make the area safer for everyone.
  • You should grit when frost, ice or snow is forecast or when walkways are likely to be damp or wet and the floor temperatures are at, or below freezing. The best times of the day to grit are early in evening before the frost settles or early in the morning, before people start leaving their houses. Salt doesn’t work instantly; it needs sufficient time to dissolve into the moisture on the floor.
  • Avoid gritting when it’s raining heavily as the salt will be washed away, causing a problem if the rain then turns to snow. Compacted snow, which turns to ice, is difficult to treat effectively with grit.
  • Look out for ‘dawn frost’ that can occur on dry surfaces when early morning dew forms and freezes on impact with the cold surface.
Will I get sued if someone slips?

In 2010, the government implemented a Snow Code following a strong campaign from Living Streets. This states that you are unlikely to be sued or held legally responsible for injury if you clear snow and ice from the pavement. It also provides advice how to clear responsibly, and minimise risk to yourself and others. Councils are encouraging residents to help out where they can without anxiety about getting into trouble if this duty is not carried out.

The government's site has some concise guidelines on clearing snow and ice yourself. And for the longer, more detailed version, you can download its Guidance on community action during severe weather.

Michael S
I ended up clearing both the path and road outside our house.
Seaspirit C
I am told if someone slips om a path you have badly cleared they can sue. uncleared is an act of  God, does anyone know if this is right, our laws are such a hodgepodge.
Matthew G

Regarding liability you need to know two things

  • you can be sued for doing anything, at any time, by anyone.  It's a fundamental part of the British judicial system that if a person thinks they have been wronged they can seek redress through the courts.  So the question of whether you can be sued for doing something is really not important.  What's important is whether there's a risk that someone might sue you and win!
  • I am not aware that there has even a single instance of a successful lawsuit being brought against a private individual following a fall after the clearing of snow on a footpath, ever.
Lesley Reed
The information given by John Matthieson on registering as a snow clearer with your district or parish council under the SCC scheme will ensure that no-one will put themselves in danger of being sued if you just follow the guidelines. Personally I am with Matthew G. I have never heard of anyone being sued for the charitable act of snow clearing to make our environment safer for others and should it happen you hope it would be laughed out of court. I have cleared the same length of pavement for the last 12 years of both snow and leaf fall - it was always much, much safer after I had finished than before. With or without the insurance, I will be doing it again next year. I recommend those who can get out there. I go regularly to the Czech Rep. with temp. of 10 deg. being likely and often much colder - snow and ice all winter yet they keep their roads gritted after each new fall and their pavements completely cleared. We can make it happen here.
Trevor G
Hi Lesley, It is noticable that the people who take the trouble to clear the snow and ice from the paths around their house are also the type that keep their Hedges, Lawns and Garden neat and tidy.  Nowadays when its windy I am forever picking up paper bags and other rubbish that is blowing around in the neighbourhood.  The reason for this is because some people fill their bins far to full and are too lazy to put their rubbish in a seperate bag and to tie it up. I sometimes wonder what their houses look like inside.
Lesley Reed
Found a great snow clearing shovel in Lidl (probably German) last year - and really cheap of course. Such great exercise!
Michael S
I must admit it is therapeutic clearing soft snow. A bit more of a bind when it has had chance to freeze.
Seaspirit C
keep garden from attacking the path,but unable to clear snow unfortunately

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