Call for ice-free pavements
Urge your council to make local pavements safe for everyone this winter.
Icy and snowy pavements are a danger to us all during the winter months.
Every winter, thousands of people in the UK are admitted to hospital after slipping on ice or snow. If you’re older, disabled or have a pushchair these ice-rink conditions can make it almost impossible to venture outdoors.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Your council has a legal duty to keep pavements safe.
Help us make sure councils do their bit and keep pavements ice-free this winter.
Find out more
As part of our campaign we are asking councillors to sign our winter pledge, which you can see here.
Or flick through our guide to ice-free pavements below.
Councils have a legal responsibility to keep pavements safe. Under section 41 of the Highways Act 1980, a council has a duty to ensure that the highway is safe to use, as far as reasonable, and specifically that it is not made dangerous for pedestrians by snow and ice. The highway includes the footway (as defined in section 329 of the same Act). On top of this, under section 150 of the Highways Act 1980, councils have a duty to remove a deposit of snow from the highway if it is an obstacle. The public can complain to a magistrate if this duty is not carried out.
They can and they should - they have the legal duty to ensure clear and safe highways, including pavements. Living Streets has collected some great examples where councils have taken this issue seriously. Realistically councils will need to prioritise where they use scarce resources – which is why it is so important to make the case that a huge proportion of the most essential local journeys, particularly for some of the most vulnerable people, are made on foot.
- Write to your local councillors and ask them to take action on icy pavements this winter.
- Send us your experiences using the comments field below – it helps us to make the case for action.
- Grab a shovel and help out! You could clear the pavement in front of your house (see below for more guidance on this), or help older people in your neighbourhood.
- Perhaps your council has a volunteering scheme. If so, take part - and let us know either below or on Twitter. And if not, encourage them to start one.
- Rock salt is the most commonly used ‘grit’ – it’s relatively cheap, quick to apply and easy to spread. Bags of rock salt can be purchased from most large builders' merchants at an average cost of £4.00 for a 25kg bag.
- Get your neighbours involved! Working together to grit your local street is a great way to strengthen your community and make the area safer for everyone.
- You should grit when frost, ice or snow is forecast or when walkways are likely to be damp or wet and the floor temperatures are at, or below freezing. The best times of the day to grit are early in evening before the frost settles or early in the morning, before people start leaving their houses. Salt doesn’t work instantly; it needs sufficient time to dissolve into the moisture on the floor.
- Avoid gritting when it’s raining heavily as the salt will be washed away, causing a problem if the rain then turns to snow. Compacted snow, which turns to ice, is difficult to treat effectively with grit.
- Look out for ‘dawn frost’ that can occur on dry surfaces when early morning dew forms and freezes on impact with the cold surface.
In 2010, the government implemented a Snow Code following a strong campaign from Living Streets. This states that you are unlikely to be sued or held legally responsible for injury if you clear snow and ice from the pavement. It also provides advice how to clear responsibly, and minimise risk to yourself and others. Councils are encouraging residents to help out where they can without anxiety about getting into trouble if this duty is not carried out.
The government's gov.uk site has some concise guidelines on clearing snow and ice yourself. And for the longer, more detailed version, you can download its Guidance on community action during severe weather.