Friday, 10 December 2010

Health and Safety gone mad

There has been a fair amount of comment recently about the rights and wrongs of people trying to clear ice and snow from roads and pavements.

Lots of councils and other responsible bodies have tried to play safe by saying that someone who clears snow or ice might be liable of there is an accident. More recently, we have had more sensible advice suggesting that, so long as a person is sensible and careful in clearing a road or pathway then they probably won't be liable.

But, of course, there's still that all important word 'probably'.

Surely it's time for the Government to make clear that, in the spirit of the Big Society, if a person acts in such a community spirited way and doesn't create additional problems then they will not be liable for accidents.

This need was emphasised by the recent news that Cornwall Council is refusing to allow a street cleaner from Helston to clear snow and ice in the town. This is the same Council which is currently trying to dump responsibility for grit bins on town and parish councils without giving them any money to take this on.

It will seem to many that Cornwall Council would prefer it if everyone would just stay at home as soon as temperatures fall below zero.

UPDATE 1 - As Sal says in the comments below, some councils take a much more sensible approach

UPDATE 2 - And Transport Secretary Philip Hammond was quoted in the Independent on Wednesday making very sensible suggestions:
With icy weather warnings in place across much of the country, Philip Hammond said people should have access to supplies so they can tackle roads and pavements which are not treated by councils." Seems to me that in many rural places this happens anyway and in the world of the Big society it would be a good example of communities showing "true grit"!


Sal said...

Contrast that to the very helpful advice from Liberal Democrat-run Cambridge City:
They've also provided really helpful advice about private individuals clearing snow in front of their houses:
So why can't Cornwall do it?

Jonathan said...

By the terms of the Sheffield Improvement Act of 1818 its is illegal to *not* clear the snow from in front of your premises, leaving you liable to a fine of ten shillings.