Thursday, 14 January 2010

Snow and Ice

We've been having to put up with the snow and ice since before Christmas now. Anyone else think it's a pain in the arse? I do, having fallen over in the damn stuff twice!

One thing that astonishes me about snow in this country is that it seems to result in the declaration of a national holiday. Schools close, people don't turn up for work, and the entire country seems to grind to a frozen halt.

Of course, there have been some genuinely severe weather conditions, and I don't mean to trivialise the difficulties that some people have endured. But in a lot of cases, the snow has been measured in centimetres, or inches, not feet!

The continued length of the cold snap has caused a depletion of salt reserves, which has made the roads that much icier than usual, as the reserves are rationed. However, it strikes me that the salt reserves are actually completely insufficient - pavements are not gritted.

The Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham (my local hospital) has said that it is dealing with 'unprecedented' numbers of ice-related injuries. So, I ask: why are the pavements not being gritted? Are they not part of the road network? Are the local councils not obliged to grit them?

Technically, yes. But they don't have enough salt to do it.

So why don't we do it ourselves?

Enter the Litigation Nation. This is part of the reason why the schools have been closing as well.

If you grit the pavement outside your house, or your own land, and someone falls over, you could be sued. The legal basis for this is that, by gritting the area, people should be able to proceed on the legal assumption that it is safe. This, to me, is absolutely crazy. People slip over on the pavements all the time when it's not icy! Why does a handful of grit suddenly render the pavement completely safe?!

'This pavement is now completely safe, rendering optimum friction between the sole of your shoe and the pavement surface. If, in the highly unlikely event that you do slip over, magic robots will descend from the sky and catch you in their forcefields before you hit the ground!'

Total bollocks.

So the schools close because they dare not grit their own premises. From a litigation point of view, it's less risky to simply close the school.

In several states in the US, you're required to grit the pavement outside your house - it's regarded as a civic duty. And until 1891, Section 63 of the Metropolitan Pavings Act 1817 required Londoners to do the same.

So, HM Government, please do something about it. Either get the councils to grit the pavement, or if they can't be bothered, I'll be quite happy to scatter some cat litter outside my house, provided you guarantee that no dozy bastard who's not looking where they're going will sue me. Up to you.

Or is that too much like common sense?

No comments:

Post a Comment