Time to deal with footpath gritting issue

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THERE have been calls for Department of Regional Development and Newtownabbey Council officials to get together and decide whose responsibility it is to grit footpaths.

Pedestrians have faced treacherous conditions on many pavements in town centres and residential areas across the borough during the recent cold snap, sparking calls for either the council or Roads Service to take on the role of salting footpaths.

While Roads Service is responsible for gritting roads, it doesn't salt pedestrian footways. And local councils have been reluctant to take on the role due to the lack of funding being offered by central government, and concerns about liability in the event of claims for personal injuries.

With the number of people being admitted to local hospitals with broken bones almost doubling in the past week, many believe it is time for someone to take responsibility for clearing footpaths of snow and ice.

"The whole thing about it's not the council's job to grit footpaths or it's not Roads Service's responsibility is just not on. Regardless of whose responsibility it is, this issue needs to be looked at seriously and needs to be dealt with," said South Antrim MLA Paul Girvan.

Revealing that he and other local councillors have been "inundated" with calls from people wanting something done about the slippery footpaths, alderman Girvan added: "If Roads Service were to supply sufficient grit and cover the liability issue, then I believe the council should consider gritting the footpaths in our town centres."

The DUP man suggested that council parks staff who may not be able to carry out their normal duties during the wintry weather could be redeployed to grit town centre footpaths.

Read the full story in this week's Times...