‘Sinister’ move to fine helpful farmers during heavy snowfall

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THE ACTIONS of police officers alleged to have issued fixed penalty notices to farmers who played a vital role in helping to clear roads and deliver supplies to families and the elderly was branded “sinister”.

At Monday night’s Environment Committee meeting councillors congratulated council staff for all their efforts to help clear roads and free people isolated in their own homes.

However, Councillor Jim Bingham said some farmers who helped clear access pathways around the borough were issued fixed penalty notices for having their agricultural vehicles on public roads. Something the Ballyclare representative described as “sinister”.

He said he knew of cases where farmers were given fines for using red diesel-powered vehicles on public roads and others were booked for not having the proper road tax.

He said it was “a disgrace” to penalise those people who helped with the immense clear-up operation around the borough.

Alderman Paul Girvan said the treacherous weather conditions which brought the borough to a standstill and left people trapped in their homes without power or running water in some cases brought the “best and worst out in people”.

He said: “I visited with a woman who was left trapped in her home because a snow plough had blocked her driveway with a huge drift of about 20ft of snow.

“When I finally managed to reach her she was giving off about how the council were not doing enough to help her. This was all while her 20-year-old son lay on the sofa playing his Playstation.

“In the end I cleared the driveway for her, but I was fuming about it. There are people who expect everything to be done for them, but will not even attempt to help themselves.”

Councillors praised the “herculean” efforts of the council staff who dropped their usual duties to help clear roads around the borough and criticised the negative reporting in the Press during the period.

Alderman John Blair said: “It gives me great pleasure to formally put on record my thanks to the council and the staff for the excellent job they carried out during what was a very difficult time.”