VOTE: Volunteers wanted for town ice patrol

Midhurst town councillors may have been caught out without a winter maintenance plan when heavy snowfall left people stranded on icy roads in December, but now they are ready to face another winter onslaught.

Last September the town council decided not to draw up a full winter maintenance plan with West Sussex County Council because the town was too large to rely on a single co-ordinator.

It was decided to ask for a single supply of salt and grit at the Bepton Road depot for the use of the public.

Although this proposal was acknowledged by the county council there was no further action, the town council’s winter plan group reported this week.

“Events overtook us with heavy snowfall in December and hasty arrangements had to be made for the county council to deliver sacks of salt and grit to various points in the town,” it said.

The lack of planning resulted in ‘the telephone ringing off the hook at the town council’, Judith Auchard told fellow town councillors.

Now the town council’s planning group has come up with a set of recommendations to deal with severe weather in the future.

But town councillors have warned it will only work if members of the public are prepared to step up and volunteer to become co-ordinators for their roads.

“This is the ‘Big Society’ in action,” said chairman of the council’s finance and general purposes committee Steve Morley. “Let’s hope people will answer the call.”

“This is a good basic plan,” said vice-chairman of the town council John Quilter. “But it only succeeds where you have got people who are prepared to come forward and act as co-ordinators.”

Presenting their recommendations, Mrs Auchard said the group believed the town council, which had very limited resources, should focus on actions which were ‘realistic and achievable’.

They should, it was recommended, support neighbourhoods by arranging delivery, by the county council, of large bags of salt to a specified list of locations in the town.

“The emphasis must be on self-help and neighbourhood co-orindation to ensure the salt is spread on residential roads and not used on individual drives.”

The town council had to try to identify, through residents’ associations and personal knowledge, people willing to act as co-ordinators at each location.

It was recommended co-ordinators should be given guidelines on how, where and when to use salt for best effect, co-ordinate with the county council by providing a list of locations and quantities of salt needed and ask shopkeepers to put salt – which would be available in car parks – on pavements in front of their businesses.