Monday, 28 December 2009

Salt pavements in snow and ice

Letter to Kent County Council calling for pavements to be salted in snow and ice. Pavements in Maidstone were still impassable a week after the snow and many people were trapped in their houses right up to Christmas. KCC did manage to salt a small area from the council offices to the member's car park though.

Dear Cllr Chard,

The week before Christmas has proved miserable and dangerous to people in Maidstone, especially the elderly and socially isolated. Despite the rhetoric in Kent County Council’s ‘Winter Service Plan’, pavements around Maidstone remained unsalted demonstrating another clear example of KCC putting cars before people. Please can you ensure that KCC acts on its own policies.

One in six households do not have access to a car in Maidstone and these households are mostly older people who are less confident about walking in snow and ice. These people have been confined to their homes in the run up to Christmas – a situation that is clearly intolerable. KCC is supporting car drivers at the expense of pedestrians which clearly disadvantaging those who need the most help.

I also understand that there was a dramatic rise in fractures reported at Maidstone’s A&E, yet there seem to have been very few car accidents. The health impact of not salting pavements is quite clear and the extra loss of independence, and possibly life, for the elderly must be stopped.

Furthermore, the only path that I found that had been salted by yourselves was between County Hall and the member’s car park – this is simply unacceptable.

I urge you to make salt available for pavements and to ensure that it is used. There needs to be a balance between roads and pavement clearing that reflects the real needs of the people.

Yours sincerely

Stuart Jeffery
Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Maidstone and the Weald

1 comment:

Atticus said...

The level of service in this respect has continually declined over the decades. I believe this is due mainly to a steady decline in funding for highway maintenance in real terms. Either that, or the service is not managed as effectively as it was many years ago, when highways divisions and borough councils had large direct labour forces which were focussed on snow and ice clearance when necessary.

The local organizations knew the local troublespots and gave these priority. Even rural lanes were snow-ploughed by farmers (with KCC ploughs fitted to the farmers' tractors) immediately after more than 2 inches of snow had fallen. Compare that with the situation last week when many urban roads in Maidstone, even sloping ones such as St Michael's Road, were never ploughed, even after 200mm of snowfall, nor salted for five days or more. Are there no agreements with farmers and contractors to plough snow off minor urban roads to at least the standard provided in sparsely populated areas?

As for the footways (pavements), what happened to the small, footway salt spreading machines that were in use by KCC in the 1970s?