Ice Station Hanover

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow….  This time last year we were firmly in the grip of the white stuff, with several prolonged snowfalls over the winter season. The extra days off school/work, sledging in Queens Park and seeing our streets transformed onto a winter wonderland was fantastic… however, people do need to get about and some can manage better than others. The virtual lack of any level ground up here increases difficulty. There is a real chance of residents facing injury and hardship as a result of harsh winter weather.

The council does what it can, and has improved its response a lot over the past couple of years – investing in new 4X4 gritters, drafting in parks staff and traffic wardens to help out, increasing the amount of grit available in bins and at drop off points and looking at priorities so that the most benefit for the most people can be achieved with its limited resources. (more about the council severe weather response here)

There is a limit though to what the council can do if the whole city has heavy snowfall over several days – there are so many places to reach and so many people needed to keep roads and footways clear that properly treating every part of the city would be impossible, and this year the council have been talking to residents and community groups to see what we can do to help in our neighbourhoods.

Ice Station Pepperpot

This winter, volunteers from the Friends of the Pepperpot have agreed to hold some snow shovels in the Tower. If we get heavy snow, members who live close by will open up the Tower and make them available to any local resident who wants to help out.  As well as being a well known local landmark, the Pepperpot is also close to the bus stop on Queens Park Road and the local chemist, post office and doctors surgery on Islingword Road; all areas we would like to see kept clear of snow and ice so that anyone who needs to use them will find it easier.

Q&A

Q: Is it legal?  A: In recent years there has been some confusion about legal responsibilities and liability issues for residents helping to clear snow in the streets. The DirectGov snow and Ice Clearing Page says:

“Don’t be put off clearing paths because you’re afraid someone will get injured. Remember, people walking on snow and ice have a responsibility to be careful themselves. …. it’s unlikely you’ll be sued or held legally responsible for any injuries if you have cleared the path carefully.”

Q: Who will be responsible for the shovels? The FoPP Volunteers have simply agreed to unlock the Tower and make shovels available. They are not responsible for what people do with them – that is up to the individuals who take part.

Q: What time will it be open? During heavy snow, volunteers will unlock the Tower as soon as they are able and will close it when they have to go… Hopefully shovels will be available as they are needed, but as this depends entirely on the goodwill of locals, flexibility and consideration are essential.

Q: Will there be training? The council has produced guidance information for volunteers clearing snow and this will be made available for volunteers to read. Aside from this, volunteers remain responsible for their own actions and will need to make their own judgements on how best to carry out clearance activities.

Q: Can I use the shovels to clear my own path? We hope to be able to focus on public areas like those mentioned above, but if there are shovels available then nearby residents wishing  to use them at their own properties  are welcome to do so (remembering of course to return the shovels afterwards…)

Q: How can I find out more? If you have any questions now, please use the comments box below (please state if you don’t want you question to be published) If we do get heavy snow and this service opens, check back on this website. We also expect to be updating from the @heglat Twitter feed, using the hashtags #bhsnow and #hanover

Click the following link to download the full council guidance A simple how to guide for snow clearing for Volunteers

And here is a short version, just dealing with the practical aspects of snow clearance: Short Snow Guide

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3 thoughts on “Ice Station Hanover

  1. A light sprinkling of snow today, but not enough around our way to warrant extra clean up energy.

    Following the comment above from Pete Webb, the comment below has been copied from the ever helpful http://www.pedestrianliberation.org blog as further clarification of the legal sitiation re community snow clearance. Do visit their site for the full article with links and much other useful and informative content.

    Clearing snow from pavements
    30 Nov

    In Minneapolis residents residents are reminded by the local authority to clear the snow on the pavement (sidewalk). The authority’s website says politely that ‘Keeping our sidewalks free of ice and snow is the neighbourly thing to do’. It then goes on to make it clear that residents that the law “requires that property owners clear sidewalks after the end of a snowfall within 24 hours for houses and duplexes, Four daytime hours for apartment and commercial buildings (daytime hours begin at 8am)”.

    In the UK the Telegraph rather unhelpfully reported in January 2010 that “Health and safety experts warn: don’t clear icy pavements, you could get sued”. The government has now made it clear that you can clear snow with a proviso that you should avoid making the pavement more dangerous. It then says: “don’t be put off clearing paths because you’re afraid someone will get injured… Remember, people walking on snow and ice have responsibility to be careful themselves. Follow the advice below to make sure you clear the pathway safely and effectively.”

    David Howarth who is a former MP for Cambridge and a former lecturer in Law at Cambridge University goes further. He says “furthermore, in the very unlikely case where the intervention does make the situation more risky, it is not enough to show that the passer-by fell over. The passer-by would have to show that he would not have fallen over anyway, or would not have injured himself just as badly in some other way – something that is very hard to do”.

    He goes on the say “Finally, even if the risk was made worse and the injury was caused specifically by the enhancement of the risk that the householder was responsible for, there is still no liability unless the passer-by can prove that the householder acted in an unreasonable way. Since most people think, as you and I do, that it is perfectly reasonable to clear the snow from the pavement outside one’s house, even if the case had not been thrown out previously, it would fail on this point.” Finally that “There is no known case of anyone in this country ever being sued successfully in these circumstances“.

    He signs off saying “There is no need for a change in the law. What we need instead is a change in the quality of the people who write and edit newspapers“!

    So, get clearing!

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  2. There’s already case law (from years ago) relating to this
    On your property you have a duty of care to anyone who walks down it & if you make it unsafe you can be legally liable and held responsible (case law related to someone who fell, couldn’t carry on working, sued and won damages against a homeowner) – years ago and well before anyone thought of a “compensation culture” … I can remember by Father telling me this when I was a kid so it’s been around for years -see the occupiers liability act 1984 and the prior version of that

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  3. The key thing about liability is to be careful what you do with the CLEARED snow or ice. If you leave it in the way (e.g. a big mound on the pavement) then it might be considered your responsibility. Also make sure it does not obscure a hazard! If you pile it around a bollard and hide it, someone might think it’s just a heap of snow and jump on it.

    All common sense basically.

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