“Trapped” communities advised to clear their own icy roads

'Trapped' communities advised to clear their own icy roads

Householders living on frozen estates claim they have become stranded as their icy streets are bypassed by council gritters.

Although patchy snow flurries were mostly light today, further heavier showers are expected and the snow which fell earlier this week continued to cause havoc as it compacted and froze in the sub-zero temperatures.

People living in isolated estates off the main gritted highways have been struggling with slippery footpaths, which have left some of the less mobile householders unwilling to leave their homes.

County transport bosses said it was impossible to grit every road as main routes and shopping areas had to be prioritised, while a finite number of grit bins could only be supplied to the most suitable locations.

And they repeated a call for communities to pitch in to help themselves and their neighbours – even if council-supplied grit was not available.

The elderly residents of Gwyn Crescent in Fakenham, which is between Norwich Road and the A1067, are angry that they face the same problems every year despite making several calls to Norfolk County Council.

Most Read

Julia Hicks, 67, said: 'We call the council and they just say that the main roads have been gritted. But we are stuck here in between two main roads and it feels like we are trapped on an island.

'There are 103 houses on this street and most of the people who live here are elderly and unable to leave their homes in conditions like this. The younger pensioners have been helping out and sweeping paths and collecting things for the older people, but we can't do anything about the road.'

John Birchall, transport spokesman for Norfolk County Council, said: 'We would, of course, like to be able to do more, but it is simply a matter of resources. Gritter crews are often out treating the 1,900 mile priority network in the evenings and early hours of the morning, or standing by in depots to respond to changing conditions.

'There are already around 800 grit bins, mostly provided by town and parish councils, that the county council keeps filled with grit. The county council agrees to do this if the bin is sited to help road users at a known trouble-spot, such as a slope or shady bend.

'However, the council is keen to encourage community action to help clear pavements and minor roads. Parish and town councils have been invited to take part in a trial this winter, with an opportunity to take on other minor highways and rights of way duties next year.'

Graham Plant, Norfolk's cabinet member for travel and transport said: 'There is nothing wrong with taking sensible steps to clear snow from outside your property. If you sweep away snow and use kitchen salt or sand to make paths and steps safer you are not making yourself automatically liable if anyone then slips or falls. It's a myth, and no-one should be deterred from community-spirited action that is likely to make life easier for all.'

Robin Goreham, a district and town councillor in Dereham, said the condition of some roads on his town's Humbletoft estate were 'nothing more nor less than disgraceful'.

'When you think how many charge payers live in these areas and how much they depend on these streets to get to work and to shop, I think it is utterly irresponsible,' he said.

'Grit bins may have some use with regard to footpaths and private driveways, but to apparently suggest that the public should grit the roads is palpably absurd.'

Town mayor Robert Hambidge agreed, saying: 'All the side roads here are like a sheet of ice. The people who live here don't get a discount on their council tax because their road doesn't get looked after.'

Elsewhere, Andrew Hibbert, who was in Wymondham town centre, said: 'It's like an ice skating rink, it's so slippery. An old man fell down near the car park near the Feathers pub and had to be treated by paramedics.'

Rob Marshall, 51, of Jex Road in Norwich, said: 'The roads and pavements are like walking on glass. There are two grit bins at the top of the road but they are empty. I can see a bad accident happening.

'When my daughter left to go to school this morning, she fell. She's young so she was okay but if it were an elderly person, they could've broken their arm.'

Amy Lyall, from Norwich City Council, which is responsible for grit bins in the city, said the grit bin in Jex Road was due to have been refilled yesterday and that they are refilling the grit bins as quickly as possible.

In North Norfolk, a North Walsham-based firm has been helping out the district council by spreading grit.

Workers at North Walsham Building Solutions were out helping grit the roads near to the town's infant and junior school on Tuesday.

A spokesman from the firm said they are currently on standby should the council need them to help out with gritting any other roads.

Norwich City Council officers said the bad weather had also affected recycling and waste collections.

A spokesman said: 'Our contractors will continue to try and make as many collections as possible, so if you have a scheduled collection, or if it has not been possible to make your collection over the last couple of days, please leave your bins at your normal collection point and we will empty them as soon as possible.'

Emma Sharples from UEA-based Weatherquest said further showers were expected tonight, which could bring 3-5cms of snow to coastal parts of north Norfolk and north-east Suffolk. She predicted a brighter day for the region tomorrow with a few snow flurries and some sunshine, although the temperature is still expected to be very cold.

Warren School, Lowestoft is to be closed tomorrow, Friday December 3