Council leaders this week urged resident to ignore ‘urban myths’ about the legalities of applying grit to roads and footways outside their homes.
As a period of cold weather gripped the UK, the Local Government Association reiterated that no law existed which prevented people clearing pavements or public spaces.
‘Ministers have repeatedly welcomed public-spiritedness and said common sense, benefit of the doubt in favour of helpfulness and a responsibility on people to tread carefully in slippery conditions should prevail in the face of complaints, the LGA said.
The association was keen to detail councils’ readiness and investment in winter services, claiming that town halls had stockpiled 1.4 million tonnes of salt – more than was used through all of last winter.
‘Keeping the country moving is a community effort. Councils treat as many roads as they can and have also installed and filled thousands of extra grit bins for people living in side streets, villages and housing estates. Parish councils, community groups and snow wardens have volunteered to grit hard-to-reach areas and farmers will be helping out on country lanes,’ Cllr Peter Box, Chairman of the LGA's Economy and Transport Board, said.
‘There's nothing to stop residents from clearing their own pavements and those of their neighbours too. Every winter councils receive hundreds of calls from people asking whether they can be sued if they clear a pavement and then someone falls over. Both councils and Government ministers actively encourage public-spiritedness and a common sense approach, and these litigation fears are usually based on misleading or entirely bogus stories. ‘
Last year, the LGA lobbied Whitehall for more winter resilience cash, although officials sought assurances that the opportunity cost of any extra investment was acceptable.