Snow warden scheme is abandoned by council
COUNCILLORS in Rhondda Cynon Taff have agreed an alternative to a proposed voluntary snow warden scheme because of concerns over cost and council resources.
It followed a notice of motion from the Plaid Cymru group to full council recently which called for voluntary snow wardens to be officially registered with the council to help communities cope with heavy snow.
It was then referred to the public services scrutiny committee and a working group was set up to look at the feasibility of the scheme.
But although the group agreed in principle with the voluntary snow warden scheme, they raised concerns that the scheme could become a burden to council officers, with the potential to impact on the already diminished resources the council has to deliver services during extreme weather and the possible cost to the local authority in terms of providing the volunteers with appropriate clothing and equipment.
Instead, cabinet agreed to launch a targeted campaign to encourage self-help in communities during periods of bad weather.
They also agreed to use the members’ hotline to keep councillors updated during periods of severe weather, share guidance over good practice with residents and consider the public liablity aspect of insurance over any voluntary work undertaken in a safe way.
Councillor Steven Bradwick, who was on the working group, told cabinet members: “The main concern was the cost implications.
“If we had 1,000 people, we would need 1,000 shovels and two bags of grit.”
He said the costs could be phenomenal and mentioned that the council has recently acquired new vehicles to deal with snow in smaller streets.
Council leader Andrew Morgan said they plan to bring these new vehicles to the next full council meeting so councillors can have a look at them.
One of Cllr Morgan’s main concerns was how they let volunteers, who may be out clearing snow, know about red weather warnings which advise people to stay indoors.
He said: “If something happens how do we know? To have a blanket policy is not right. Providing the information we have is key.
“It (the motion) was well-intended but this is the right way forward.”
The council’s deputy leader Councillor Maureen Webber suggested that they could involve community councils in the process.
“The principle is good but the implementation worries me. I would be worried about individuals taking on a level of responsibility that may well put them at risk.”
Storm Emma caused heavy snow in Porth last winter