"Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you," said the wisest of wise men. "The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon."

('The Alchemist' Paulo Coelho)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The street beneath your feet

This was mentioned in passing in a review of the papers on television this morning. I already knew what the legal position was, or at least I think I did. (It took ages to find anything very authoritative on the subject when I looked on the internet.) Basically, during snowy or icy weather, the legal position in the UK is that a householder bears responsibility for ensuring that the pathways on his own property are clear for anyone likely to use them, such as the postman. (Haven't seen one of those for several days.)
But when it comes to the pavement outside, the position is different.
Councils generally do not grit pavements, nor do they grit most of the less busy roads. In fact, now that grit is becoming less available, even fewer roads will be gritted, which means that many people will decide to leave the car at home and walk. This could be a sensible decision except that walking on ice and compacted snow carries its own risk - ask any A&E department.
It is possible that many  householders would  be quite happy to clear the pavement in front of their property and if everyone, or even the majority of people, did this, it would make life so much easier for pedestrians. In fact in many other countries, this is positively encouraged or even required.
Oh but, hang on, this is the UK we're are talking about here, land of the 'blame culture', where people who have an accident are then encouraged to look for someone to blame and claim compensation from, whether it was due to lack of care or simply 'one of those things.' So, householders are warned not to clear the pavement in front of their property in case they are sued. After all, the argument goes, by clearing away the snow and ice, passers-by will assume that the pavement beneath their feet is clear and they can dance along it without a care in the world and without having the intelligence to realise that, although the surface is reasonably clear, it is not the same as walking on it on a sunny summer's day.
So everyone's a loser. Householders play safe as they decide not to run the risk of being sued and pedestrians continue to hobble along, hoping they will not end up measuring their length at any moment, or, worse still, especially if they are elderly or disabled, they decide not to venture out at all.


Yorkshire Pudding said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yorkshire Pudding said...

I award this post a B+. Interesting content and a high level of grammatical accuracy. For extra coaching see me in my study after prep.

At Shirley's health centre, they have a big tub of grit. However, the "partners" are refusing to use it on the treacherous sloping car park because if they don't salt and grit it perfectly, they fear they could be liable if a visiting patient falls down or crashes his/her car! Whatever happened to common sense?

Jennyta said...

That says it all, YP! Heaven help elderly or infirm patients.
Only a B+??? :(

Railwayman39 said...

Many years ago when England was England and not a province of the Fourth Reich there were by-laws saying that every householder should clear snow away from outside the house and lay down ash (the stuff we used to get from the firegrate when we were allowed real fires) and/or soil before eight a.m.
But we had no Elf and Insanity then

Rosie said...

I heard this on the news this morning and think it's awful that we have come to this.I have spent last week meeting parents and children in the playground hoping nobody fell over. They would be working out how much they could get before they had got up and dusted themselves down.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

If you want a higher grade than a B+ you will have to resort to bribery.

Jennyta said...

But I'm POOR, YP!!

Rosie, I remember a parent attempting to sue our school because her child, who had come to school far too early, had slipped on some ice.


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