Clearing snow won’t get you sued, say Norfolk council bosses

People in Norwich need not be afraid of clearing paths of snow if the city is hit with another icy blast this winter, say councillors keen to impress they will not face legal action for doing so.

When a cold snap hit the city last winter, many paths remained covered by snow because people feared they could be sued if somebody slipped and fell on an area they had tried to clear.

But Norfolk County Council bosses and councillors are keen to get the message across that they encourage people to clear paths.

At a meeting yesterday of the council's environment, transport and development overview and scrutiny panel, John Joyce, assistant director for highways, said: 'Clearly there was a lot of confusion about what people could and couldn't do.

'The government has published guidance in its snow code, in which, it says if people clear paths sensibly and carry it out sensibly, they are at no risk of being challenged.

'But obviously there are always going to be lawyers who have a different interpretation. However, the government is clear and we are clear that individuals can take responsibility for clearing snow and spreading grit.'

Graham Plant, cabinet member for travel and transport, agreed that people should not be put off from doing their bit.

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He said: 'Last year there was a lot of worry about whether people could clear snow and that meant a lot of places were just left as they were.

'There is guidance from government which assures that if you clear paths responsibly you will not be at risk of legal challenge.

'I'd go further than that and say, if you live next to elderly neighbours or a family with small children, then you should clear their path for them. We are all part of the same society.

'There are 800 grit bins out there in Norfolk and if you haven't got one then you should get in touch with your parish council and ask them to obtain one. We will fill it with grit which can be used to clear pathways.

'People will get every encouragement to clear the pathways from this council.'