Parish snow warden appeal

Joseph Bulmer

County council recruiting volunteers to coordinate local road gritting strategies

IT might seem a bizarre request to make in the middle of summer, but Devon County Council is on the lookout for volunteer snow wardens.

The council wants to hear from people willing to act as a point of contact for individual parishes during winter and offer to store and manage local salt supplies.

Safety training is given, and as part of the role, wardens would take responsibility for the grit bins and salt bags within their community, encouraging responsible use of grit.

Around 30 parishes signed up for the scheme when it was launched last year and it is hoped the recruitment drive will swell the ranks before next winter arrives.

Those that do will receive up to five tonnes of free salt. They will be free to decide, in the best interests of their community, how they use it on public roads and footpaths in their area.

Among those to have already signed up to the scheme is Great Torrington Town Council, which bought its own push along salt spreaders last winter.

Cllr Roland Pitts, who is the snow warden for the town, said: “We know there are limited budgets for everyone, but if we can work together with the county

council we can get a lot more for our money.

“As a town council we felt that we can help to keep our town centre pavements as clear as possible from snow to make it safer for the public and last winter we had people out clearing snow at 7.30am.

“We’re doing this voluntarily for the benefit of the town. There’s a limit to what we can do but we will do as much as we can, and our priority is the town centre and main footpaths into town.”

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said although parishes weren’t obliged to join the scheme, severe weather could hinder efforts to re-stock local supplies.

“The winter is months away but we’re encouraging parishes to plan for it

now,” he said.

“The snow warden scheme is about giving parish councils local ownership, and supporting them in providing self-help in their local community during the winter.

“Parish councils know what their priorities are in terms of maintaining access to their community buildings and primary schools, and they would be able to determine their local need.”

Devon County Council is in the process of replenishing the county’s 3,000 grit bins ahead of next winter.