52 Things - Number 36: Look at creating a Winter Weather scheme

Overview and Background:

Winter in rural areas can be a nightmare, with small villages often cut off from larger towns nearby by treacherous snow and ice, and a lack of salt on the roads from local councils. This is often because countryside roads are Category 3, meaning they do not receive gritting until Categories 1 and 2 are taken care of.

The approach: 

This means many people can feel isolated and trapped in their own homes during winter, meaning they cannot visit appointments, get to work or do their weekly shopping. Older people who live alone can be particularly vulnerable, especially if a household has fallen into fuel poverty, and living conditions are harsh, cold and quite lonely. This can have a significant impact on health, leading in extreme cases to winter deaths.

Some villages have decided to take control of this issue, and are setting up Winter Weather schemes all over Yorkshire to combat the cold. One example of this is the parish council serving Bolton Percy, Colton and Steeton, where parishioners have took gritting of roads and pavement into their own hands.

With the support of Rural Action Yorkshire, and a small grant of £250, the community has been able to purchase extra rock salt and grit, and cover the costs of ploughing such as fuel and labour. This has enabled them to spread salt on the roads, arrange transport for residents in need, and make the Parish Council’s generator and lights available in an emergency.

The outcome: 

Joyce Collier, clerk to the Parish Council at the time said: “People are thrilled and it is definitely a worthwhile thing to do. People have been able to get out in the village more easily and safely. In the future, we will look into getting something that can spread grit on the roads, rather than relying on shovels.”