Council planning for severe winter weather

Workmen clearing snow and ice from footpaths. (Archive pic)
Workmen clearing snow and ice from footpaths. (Archive pic)

Council staff will clear snow and ice from footpaths and pedestrian areas in local town centres during periods of severe winter weather.

At their September meeting, members of Antrim and Newtownabbey Council’s Operations Committee agreed to sign up to a partnership agreement with the Department for Regional Development regarding snow clearance work.

The new local agreement will commence on October 1, 2015 and remain in force for a maximum of three years.

Previously Newtownabbey Borough Council signed up to a similar agreement with DRD, but Antrim Borough Council did not.

In March of this year, the Shadow Council agreed interim arrangements which provided for gritting/snow clearance of town centre footways in Ballyclare, Glengormley, Antrim, Crumlin and Randalstown. In the event, there was no severe weather.

Under the new agreement, TransportNI will provide the council with salt/grit mix free of charge. The local authority will also receive an annual service fee of £2,295.77.

Responding to members’ concerns about insurance, the meeting was informed that the council’s current insurance provider will provide cover.

During the discussion, several members, including Cllr Matthew Magill and Cllr Noreen McClelland, voiced concerns about the level of funding being provided to the council by DRD. And the DUP man asked if local ratepayers would be expected to pick up the tab for any shortfall.

The council’s Operations Director, Geraldine Girvan advised that during severe weather, some council teams would be “stood down” and some activities such as street cleansing could not go ahead.

“On the basis that normal operations are suspended when this kicks in, we would try to keep within existing resources,” she said.

“If there is an extended period of severe weather, we cannot ensure this but will try to keep existing resources where possible.”

Officers are currently finalising an Operational Plan which will set out guidelines for delivery of key council services and assistance with snow and ice clearance - on council properties and in support of DRD.