Sunday, January 03, 2010

Gritting my teeth (over the gritting)

I have been so angry during the last two weeks, about the state of our pavements. It started snowing and being wintry on the Saturday, I think that was the 19th of December. Eventually the main roads were gritted but the side roads remained shockingly dangerous until the weather warmed up and the rain moved in, to clear them, on the 29th December. So the roads were not safe, what of the pavements?

They were shockingly bad too. On 23rd December I was standing on Prescot Road, Fairfield, when I saw an old lady fall over on the opposite pavement and hurt herself on the ice. Thankfully she was helped to her feet by two people walking behind her. I couldn't get over to her myself because the pavements on my side were so bad, that by the time I crossed she had moved off.

I left there to go over to Allerton Road to the bank, where I spotted an ambulance, pulled up to the kerb, attending to someone else who had fallen over. I discussed this on the phone with a resident from Fairfield Crescent who called me to say that her neighbours and she were trapped in their homes, unable to leave on foot or in the car because of a gritting failure, one had a broken bone. When I mentioned it to Natalie on Christmas morning (in a service at St Philips on Molyneux Road), she told me of two of her neighbours who had fallen and broken bones. I mentioned it to another friend who told me that his Gran has two broken ankles from falling on the ice. On 28th, when Dylan attempted a walk with his father, he fell over twice in 100 yards.

I phoned Enterprise on Monday morning, 21st, asking them if they could come and sort out the pavements on Kensington and Prescot Road and received a call back to say they don't do pavements. There is no vehicular equipment available that would do this apparently, and there is not the manpower (personpower?)to get out there with a shovel and some salt. And it does not happen often enough for anyone to have gotten to grips with it properly before.

This is clearly not a problem confined to Liverpool either, I dont think any pavements have been cleared by any authorities.

I am told that in some countries it is a requirement that shop keepers/householders clear their own little bit. That would help, although we would have to have some form of assistance for the elderly and infirm. Unfortunately there are still a lot of empty and boarded up shops, particularly in Fairfield (which Kensington Regeneration never bothered with, so the place has a real West/East divide now to add to the North/South one), so I don't know who would clear their pavements.

This is an A road, a main road through our area, I know we dont have many shops (yet) but it remains important to local people who need to get to one of our Post Offices etc. They need to be able to walk in safety, I am appalled, genuinely horrified at the scale and size of injuries and casualties over the last 2 weeks, we cannot go through that again. We need some thoughtful suggestions about how we can put this right next time, whether we recruit community volunteers, encourage or enforce shop keepers to take action, or some other plan. But what we cannot do is find it perfectly acceptable for people to be hurt, with lasting serious impacts, just by stepping outside.


Anonymous said...

shoudl labour win contraol of the coucil in may I suggest you and or a colleague examine the utterely woeful and inadequete contractual terms of Enterprise Liverpool and if necessary end the contract and get some people who give a shit

you will be unsurprised to know that both Trafford and manchester council "do pavements"

Louise Baldock said...

Anonymous - please email me on my private email louise dot baldock at blueyonder dot co dot uk to share more information with me about Manchester and Trafford councils gritting/salting pavements. I have obviously been misinformed and this could be crucial.
And of course we will be examining the Enterprise contract very thoroughly, we have already pledged to.
Cheers, good comment, helpful, thanks

Anonymous said...

In the US, shopkeepers and businesses will shovel and salt ("grit") pavements first thing the next morning after a snowfall. I'm not sure about the lawful requirements (and I'm sure they vary in each state), but it's within an injured person's rights to sue a business if the sidewalks/pavements on the premises are dangerous and icy. Local governments will normally NOT clear neighborhood pavements of snow or ice, but it's common and expected for people to shovel their own sidewalk. In all the streets I've lived on in the States, neighbors have gone ahead and shoveled the sidewalks of elderly residents who can't physically shovel.

As a current resident of Liverpool (Newsham Park area), I was shocked at the absence of ANY snow response, either by the local council or by local residents. I just could not believe the ice sheeting that was allowed to develop on the sidewalks and streets. I'm not trying to go into hyperbole, but the helplessness of able residents and the council was just plain embarrassing. Why shouldn't we expect the council to enough salt/grit and snow plows? It's not as though there's never snow...there was a big snowfall last year too! And residents who CAN shovel their pavements should have done so the next morning after the first snow...almost none of them did so, and the ice sheeting was the result.

It was just ineptitude of an embarrassing level all around. I don't really blame the physically able residents, but the council should have made it clear that businesses and residents should have shoveled their own areas. The state of the small streets off of Prescott Rd., etc., was a joke. They were undriveable, and I saw many elderly people having the hardest time getting around.

I don't want to sound like a complaining foreigner, but there needs to be a massive makeover in the way the council and residents deal with what is in many other parts of the developed world a normal winter snowfall.

Anonymous said...

I live in the Litherland area and have yet to see a gritter or, indeed, the effects of a gritter ie. salt on the roads!!
Went over to Wallasey on Christmas Day and ALL the major, and some side roads, have been gritted and clear of snow and ice - well done WBC!
Here in Liverpool it is an absolute disgrace - I have not been able to drive my car since Friday 17 December due to the sheer incompetence and ineptitude of those in charge of the service.
I would recommend the dismissal of all those involved and you hire the staff from WBC who seem to know what they are doing!
I can only assume that the council is trying to save money by not gritting at all and really can't be bothered about how this inconveniences the thousands of motorists who use the roads to get to work etc.!!