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Who is responsible for clearing the snow from the pavements in the UK??

Inca in the snow

Inca in the snow

The walk to John’s shop – the post office and general store in our village – was quite arduous today. Usually it’s a five minute stroll. But the snow made it heavy going. Even in my trusty Bearpaw sheepskin boots.

Walking in snow that’s over 10 cm is quite tiring as you have to lift your feet as high as a badly operated puppet. At some points in the journey it was easier to walk in the road.

Just a handful of houses had cleared the pavement in front of their houses. The rest, like me, had left the snow.

In the old days everyone used to clear the pavement outside their houses but nowadays most people are frightened about being sued if someone slips. Some people think that this is an urban myth but in reality the Local Authority is liable for clearing the roads and the pavements in the UK.

Your responsibility lies in clearing a path from the pavement to your house. If you clear the path outside your house and someone slips there you can be sued.

It seems a shame to me that the fear of litigation stops UK residents from being neighbourly. What do you think?

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  1. I’m in London and, this week, The Mayor told us, on TV, that we could clear the front of our houses without any fear of getting sued.
    Unfortunately, now that I’m an old crock, I don’t trust myself to venture out when it’s slippery under foot.

  2. Most people used to clear the snow along the pavement immediately outside their house. It was done automatically. Unfortunatley ‘elf and safety rules gone mad’ stifled all of this. Now everybody is scared to do it for fear they are sued. What an awful society we now live in.

  3. Susan@Holly Grove

    Clear the footpath and then sprinkle over a good amount of cheap kitchen salt, this will stop the ice forming and make the path safer for all.

  4. 10 cms! We have 3 metres! I have to put on Dan’s fisherman’s waders just to get to the front gate. Luckily that litigation rubbish hasn’t caught on here (yet). I understand from Swiss friends that each household is responsible for clearing their own part of the pavement and even the road, but that was a good 15 years ago, not sure if it’s still true.

    (PS If you are wondering why I haven’t said anything about the lavender bag, it’s because it hasn’t arrived, but please don’t worry, or send another one – I’m certain the problem was with the Italian post at Christmas – in any case, nothing is getting through at the moment, haven’t had a bill for two weeks!) Love to all at the Cottage.

  5. Here in Toronto the homeowner is responsible to clear the snow within a 24 hour period or be fined by the city. Our block is great, everyone helps everyone, my husband shovels for the elderly next door and we share a snowblower with a neighbour so if we get a good downfall (hasn’t been used yet this year) then they will clear several other houses as well.

  6. We’ve not had any snow settle here but in the last few years we did. On our street the houses open onto the pavement so it’s not like we have garden paths to clear. Even so only 3 of us cleared the pavement (one was a Polish family who couldn’t believe nobody was out clearing) but between us we managed to clear and grit the majority of the street.

    Of course I wonder how many people know how to clear snow properly, lots of houses threw salt onto deep snow and ended up with ice slicks that took longer to melt than the snow.

  7. The Liquineer

    I always clear the pavement in front of my house – if it is done properly, no snow will exist on that spot- and a judicious application of a little salt will take care of any slightly icy spots. I was the only one on my street to do so.
    For me it is a no brainer- why trudge through snow to and from the house to the car- (we park on the road as can’t get a car on our property) and I clear the way from the house to the pavement anyway.

  8. elrohana

    PS – I clear mine every time, why I bother I don’t know as we have no pavements anyway, but next door usually appreciates the extra snow thus produced for making snowmen with his grandson….

  9. elrohana – see final paragraph

    Just a 10 second Google search to show what utter cobblers this excuse for not clearing one’s path is…….

  10. In my opinion this type of problem is caused by two things: over-zealous and at times insane H & S regulations; and the introduction by John Major’s government of No Win No Fee litigation. Now any chancer who trips over can sue someone (rather than just saying “silly me”) in full knowlege that it is often cheaper for the organisation concerned to settle, rather than waste time and money preparing for court. As for the H & S aspect, when I was still working, managing 200 staff, I was roundly told off by a Health & Safety official for allowing my staff to make themselves tea and coffee, unsupervised, using their own mugs. Apparently I should have appointed a fully trained operative (i.e. kettle minder) who could ensure that hot drinks were only permitted in company-provided heatproof and lidded containers, and only consumed in an appropriate safety-assessed area. I kid you not.

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