Not gritting pavements during freezing weather is leaving many residents “effectively locked in their homes”, a Greenwich councillor said last night.
Snow and a week of sub-zero temperatures left many footways impassable across the borough, while many roads were treated with salt to keep them clear. Freezing conditions this month have also made paths slippery.
Creekside councillor Calum O’Byrne Mulligan that Greenwich “had the balance wrong” and should be doing more to help pedestrians get around. The council is now reviewing its winter policies.
A written answer to last night’s council meeting said: “In common with many highway authorities, the council does not carry out precautionary salting of footways. This decision arises from the logistics (and therefore cost) of needing a special fleet of lightweight vehicles with crews to spread salt on footways and cycleways.
“When snow falls, our street-based staff such as litter-pickers, street cleansing operatives, and leaf-sweepers are immediately re-tasked to clear snow and to spread salt by hand on the priority footways, shop fronts and transport hubs listed on the winter service plan.”
O’Byrne Mulligan said: “I think the answer, however, does highlight that we, along with most boroughs, have the balance wrong when it comes to gritting by forcing kids often to use the road to walk to school, and those with mobility issues effectively locked in their homes with pavements like ice rinks.
“I understand that we’ll be undertaking a wider review ahead of the next winter and would ask that we put the aim of a pedestrian safe and accessible for all Greenwich at its heart.”
Averil Lekau, the council’s deputy leader, said that the issue would be looked at in light of the council’s new transport strategy, which aims to promote walking and cycling.
“I’ve had a lot of conversations this week because I said I’ve acknowledged how we’ve traditionally done certain things like gritting,” she said. “My view is we now have the transport strategy, which is trying to get people out there walking and cycling, so looking at how safe our cycle routes and pavements are, especially in areas where there’s a gradient.”
“My colleague Cllr [Danny] Thorpe is often telling me about some of the issues that his residents in Shooters Hill face because it’s quite a steep hill up there. So I do think going forward we do have to have a review.”
The winter service plan – with a list of roads and pavements that get gritted – can be found on the Greenwich Council website. To feed back to councillors on the issue, visit writetothem.com.
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