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.