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. :-)