Snow war­den scheme is aban­doned by coun­cil

Cynon Valley - - NEWS - AN­THONY LEWIS an­[email protected]­line.co.uk

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.”

RICHARD WIL­LIAMS

Storm Emma caused heavy snow in Porth last win­ter

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