Vol­un­teer grit­ters call gets frosty re­cep­tion

TRUE GRIT: Coun­cil says move would free up its teams to tackle pri­or­ity routes

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - Morag lind­say

Res­i­dents across Perth and Kin­ross are be­ing urged to take on re­spon­si­bil­ity for grit­ting their own pave­ments and foot­paths this win­ter.

Coun­cil chiefs put out an ap­peal for vol­un­teers, say­ing a com­mu­nity ef­fort would help free up work­ers to tackle the high­est pri­or­ity routes as tem­per­a­tures be­gin to fall.

Push-along grit­ters, high-vis­i­bil­ity waist­coats and train­ing will be of­fered.

Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil said vol­un­teers would not be ex­pected to put them­selves at risk and would not be held li­able, pro­vided they had acted “rea­son­ably and in ac­cor­dance with the guid­ance”.

The Tax­pay­ers’ Al­liance said it set a “dan­ger­ous prece­dent” and sug­gested res­i­dents would be won­der­ing why the coun­cil could not run its own ser­vice with­out re­ly­ing on them to give up their time.

Res­i­dents across Perth and Kin­ross are be­ing urged to give the coun­cil a hand this win­ter by clear­ing pave­ments and foot­paths in their own neigh­bour­hoods.

Vol­un­teers will be given a push-along grit­ter, high-vis­i­bil­ity waist­coat and a sup­ply of salt and sand, as well as train­ing.

The au­thor­ity stressed the move is an­cil­lary to its own work, which will not be scaled back as a re­sult.

How­ever, the Tax­payer’s Al­liance has ex­pressed con­cern over the move, say­ing it was a “dan­ger­ous prece­dent”.

Councillor Ian Camp­bell, leader of Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil, said the au­thor­ity had a mas­sive area to cover dur­ing the colder months.

He ac­knowl­edged it was an “in­no­va­tive” ap­proach to tack­ling the win­ter work­load.

“Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil’s win­ter main­te­nance pol­icy for roads and pave­ments is based on a pri­or­ity sys­tem, aim­ing to pro­vide as broad cov­er­age as pos­si­ble and min­imise the im­pact of bad weather,” he said.

The re­spon­si­bil­ity for the roads and foot­path net­work is huge and any as­sis­tance that can be pro­vided by the lo­cal com­mu­nity is al­ways wel­comed. COUN­CIL LEADER IAN CAMP­BELL

“The re­spon­si­bil­ity for the roads and foot­path net­work is huge and any as­sis­tance that can be pro­vided by the lo­cal com­mu­nity is al­ways wel­comed.”

A coun­cil spokesman stressed the role would be purely vol­un­tary and that vol­un­teers would not be ex­pected to put them­selves at risk.

He added that there will be no spe­cific time re­quire­ments for treat­ing the agreed sec­tions and no ex­pec­ta­tion of the vol­un­teers to be out in se­vere weather con­di­tions.

They would not be li­able pro­vided they have acted “rea­son­ably and in ac­cor­dance with the guid­ance.”

Tax­pay­ers Al­liance chief ex­ec­u­tive John O’Con­nell said: “Perth and Kin­ross tax­pay­ers will be won­der­ing why their coun­cil can’t pro­vide this ser­vice with­out re­ly­ing on peo­ple to give up their time.

“The main­te­nance of roads is a ba­sic func­tion of lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

“Pro­vid­ing train­ing for a ser­vice it al­ready does starts a dan­ger­ous prece­dent for du­pli­cat­ing work, and en­cour­ag­ing a poor use of tax­pay­ers’ money.”

The Met Of­fice has warned the UK faces the chill winds of La Nina this win­ter, bring­ing Arc­tic-like con­di­tions.

La Nina is a cli­matic event which hap­pens as part of a weather cy­cle when tem­per­a­tures in the Pa­cific Ocean drop be­low -0.5C.

Any­one wish­ing to help can phone 01738 475000 for in­for­ma­tion.

Pic­ture: Phil Han­nah.

Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil leader Ian Camp­bell tries out a grit­ter in Perth High Street with the help of Stu­art D’All of the roads main­te­nance depart­ment.

Pic­ture: Phil Han­nah.

Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil leader Ian Camp­bell tries out a push-along grit­ter with the help of Stu­art D’All of the coun­cil’s roads main­te­nance depart­ment, in Perth’s High Street.

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