Gritting and grit bins
East Sussex County Council are the highways authority for the Hastings and St Leonards area. They are responsible for the winter maintenance of most roads across the borough. They also maintain grit bits in key locations and provide residents with private grit bins on a chargeable basis. You can find out more on the their website.
Hastings Borough Council does not provide or fund grit bins and grit.
Clearing snow and ice
In winter many people help keep pavements and public spaces around their homes and businesses clear of snow, but some people are put off doing so because of fears of being sued.
If you are going to help clear pavements and public spaces of snow and ice you need to be aware of how to do so properly. You can find out more about how to correctly and safely clear snow and ice on the government's website.
Who is responsible for clearing snow and ice from our roads and pavements?
East Sussex County Council (ESCC) is the 'Highway Authority' and the law says they must "ensure, so far as is reasonable, that passage along a highway is not endangered by snow and ice". ESCC has a Winter Maintenance Policy, which it states "will ensure the safe movement of all highway users on designated roads throughout the county".
So what roads and pavements will they treat?
ESCC will carry out precautionary salting on predetermined routes. These Primary Routes are mainly A, B and some C class roads. They will not normally salt Secondary Roads unless there is heavy snow or severe ice. These tend to be major bus routes and roads that link hospitals and villages. Minor and Estate roads will not be treated by ESCC and they will not routinely salt footpaths or pavements.
Are there any exceptions to this?
ESCC has also agreed to treat access routes to the local bus station so that buses can get out on to the main roads and will in extreme weather conditions provide salt for Hastings Borough Council (HBC) contractors to spread around the Hastings Town Centre pedestrianised area and St Leonard's shopping area. More information on this is available on the ESCC website.
What do Hastings Borough Council (HBC) do?
HBC is not legally responsible for treating roads and pavements during severe weather but it recognises the impact on the community and has agreed to assist ESCC in helping make life a little easier for residents. We have some small scale gritting barrows and some snow clearing equipment that can be fitted to our grounds maintenance contractor's tractors. We also have a small supply of salt stored at the East Sussex County Council depot at Sidley, and arrangements with a local haulage contractor to transfer this salt to be used as described below. We also store salt at the crematorium and at our town centre car parks and offices for use at those premises.
If there is severe snow and ice our focus will initially be on maintaining access to the Borough Council's key premises. These are the cemetery and crematorium and the council's offices at Muriel Matters House and the Community Contact Centre at the Town Hall. By maintaining access to these premises we can ensure that at least some of our staff are able to operate our most essential services during severe snow and ice. Then we will try to maintain access to car parks and pedestrianized shopping areas in the town centre, and if possible some of the other primary and secondary shopping areas.
In spite of these efforts by both East Sussex County Council and Hastings Borough Council, we are never going to be able to reach every part of the town with our limited resources. All of you as residents and businesses in the town can do your bit to help.
But won't I get sued?
There is no law stopping you from clearing snow and ice on the pavement outside your home or from public spaces. It is unlikely you will be sued or held legally responsible for any injuries on the path if you have cleared it carefully and have not made it more dangerous than before.
"The only person who is at risk of being sued is a person who clears the snow so badly that things are worse than before and that common sense would indicate that this is so; an example given is that of a person who clears a path with water in freezing temperatures and pays no attention to the fact that the water left behind freezes and creates slippery ice." Ministry of Justice, March 2010
Read on to find out how you can help make a difference in your neighbourhood.
The snow code
Tips on clearing snow and ice from pavements or public spaces
Do not be put off clearing paths because you are afraid someone will get injured. Remember, people walking on snow and ice have responsibility to be careful themselves. Follow this advice to make sure you clear the pathway safely and effectively.
Clear the snow or ice early in the day
It is easier to move fresh, loose snow rather than hard snow that has packed together from people walking on it. So if possible, start removing the snow and ice in the morning. If you remove the top layer of snow in the morning, any sunshine during the day will help melt any ice beneath. You can then cover the path with salt before nightfall to stop it refreezing overnight.
Use salt or sand - not water
If you use water to melt the snow, it may refreeze and turn to black ice. Black ice increases the risk of injuries, as it is invisible and very slippery. You can prevent black ice by spreading some salt on the area you have cleared. You can use ordinary table or dishwasher salt - a tablespoon for each square metre you clear should work.
Do not use the salt found in salting bins - this will be needed to keep the roads clear. Be careful not to spread salt on plants or grass as it may cause them damage. If you do not have enough salt, you can also use sand or ash. These will not stop the path icing over as well as salt, but will provide good grip under foot. It will however need to be cleared up once the weather improves. Pay extra attention when clearing steps and steep pathways - using more salt may help.
Take care where you move the snow
When you are shoveling snow, take care where you put it so it does not block people's paths or drains. Make sure you make a path down the middle of the area to be cleared first, so you have a clear surface to walk on. Then shovel the snow from the centre of the path to the sides.
This information has been produced by Hastings Borough Council to summarise the legal responsibilities relating to clearing snow and ice from roads and footpaths, what else is being done by Hastings Borough Council and to provide advice on how you as businesses and residents in Hastings can help make life a little easier in periods of snow and ice.