New government advice on clearing snow

I was in town today, we’ve had about 8 inches of snow in the last few days, and there was a physically challenged gentleman probably in his 40s, with two children under 5, walking with sticks.  He was practically walking down the middle of a very busy street, which happens to be a bus route as well.  Due to the sticks, he was unable to hold the children’s hands and they were terrifyingly close to the traffic.  It was one of those moments where you couldn’t bear to watch.

The reason he was walking in the road was because the footpaths were impassable.  I was sliding around and I’m perfectly able.  This refuelled my anger of the madness of Health and Safety; I know it’s not just this country.  It’s unfair to continually compare Canada to the UK but this is my reference point.  In Canada, you’re legally responsible for clearing the footpaths (sidewalks) outside your property including the one leading up to your house.  If you don’t and someone slips and is hurt you’re liable.

Up until recently, it was believed in the UK that if you ‘did’ clear the paths then you would be liable, which seems completely back to front to me, which has resulted in no one clearing their paths.  I was walking into town on the weekend and was speaking with an elderly gentleman who was meticulously clearing his own drive, but wouldn’t clear the footpath for this very reason.

So, I was pleased to read that Hertfordshire County Council has welcomed government guidelines that give clear guidance for residents who want to clear snow and ice from outside their properties.

“There is no law stopping you from clearing snow and ice on the pavement outside your property, pathways to your property or public spaces.”

In response to concerns from the public about being sued, the guidelines continue:

“If an accident did happen, it’s highly unlikely that you would be sued as long as you are careful and use common sense to make sure that you don’t make the pavement or pathway clearly more dangerous than before. People using areas affected by snow and ice also have responsibility to be careful themselves.”

You can read the full article here which includes advice on clearing paths.

So, come on and get your shovels out, if you have one!   You may want to check with your local council first.  :-)

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Author: mediocremum

A slightly older mum of one, who drinks far too much red wine and has an unhealthy obsession with her slow cooker. During the day she's an ICT Trainer, Social Media/Online Marketing consultant and does a bit of public speaking. Full Profile on Google+

10 thoughts on “New government advice on clearing snow”

  1. How did the British ever colonise Canada?
    We clear our path outside out house because we have small kids and in a typical English village step outside you’re practically on the road. All the neighbours do the same. I think the councils should be clearing the pavements, they have a legal obligation to grit/salt the roads and they don’t even do that, so I hold no hope for the pavements! For sure if it were a shops legal responsibility you can bet your bottom dollar the paths would be cleared.

  2. now all I need is to find somewhere that actually sells snow shovels!! Great advice as ever. And who cares if you compare us to Canada: they seem to be better at dealing with ‘adverse weather’ than we do….

    1. Used to think it was unfair to compare as Canada has the infrastructure in place to deal with it but the bad patches of weather here are getting longer and longer and they really need to start doing something about it.

    2. Used to think it was unfair to compare as Canada has the infrastructure in place to deal with it but the bad patches of weather here are getting longer and longer and they really need to start doing something about it.

  3. I’d always wondered if the whole ‘health and safety say I can’t thing’ had more to do with a convenient excuse rather than reality… or maybe I’m a cynic

    Remember when I was little everyone cleared the bit of path by their house – was just what you did

  4. I live in the US and we have the same rules as Canada here. Even elderly grandparents are out there slinging snow because it’s against the law not to. But I have noticed a huge difference in how cities are prepared for bad weather throughout the US. I’m originally from Chicago where we have 6 months of winter and the city is great about cleaning up the streets. Here in Texas where it rarely ever snows the city of Dallas comes to a complete standstill if anything at all falls from the sky. Even a little rainstorm floods the streets because we don’t have good gutter systems. It’s funny how the way a city is even built can vary so much from region to region!

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