Widespread anger at lack of suburban gritting
UNGRITTED roads and pavements have prompted complaints about the service provided by East Renfrewshire Council.
With temperatures poised to plummet again, many feel not enough is being done to grit side streets and pavements in Barrhead.
Some residents say the ice was so bad they were confined to their homes for fear of injury, or when they did venture out they had to hold on to railings and fences.
One pensioner from Levern Crescent, aged 72, who did not want to be named, said: "I was making my way down to the train station last week when I tried to get down a steep hill near Alan's Corner roundabout.
"I got stuck halfway down because it was just becoming too slippy for me to even walk down, and I had to turn around and try and get back up.
"It took me the best part of 15 minutes to get back up that little hill because it hadn't been gritted."
Irate residents have also taken to the Barrhead News Facebook page to vent their frustration.
Tracey McDermott, from Aurs Crescent in Auchenback, said: "There isn't enough being done here. I have been fighting with the council for three years about our cul-de-sac that never sees a gritter or a pick-up to shovel grit off of.
"The council issued a grit bin last year, only one which is halfway around the street.
"I'm now eight months pregnant and scared to go out in case I fall."
Some residents have also expressed their concerns over the state of pavements surrounding the town's schools and nurseries.
One concerned parent, Frances Mcgoldrick from Divernia Way in Auchenback, said: "I don't feel there is enough being done by the council, especially around the schools where it is like a skating rink.
"More should be done - the weather was forecasted so the council should have been out getting the streets and roads gritted instead of leaving it so late.\u201D
The problem is not isolated to Barrhead, with Neilston residents also feeling that enough is not being done to make sure that their streets remain safe.
Neilston resident Chloe Haigh said: "Madras Place is shocking when its icy. People need to hold on the a fence to walk down, council should have the place gritted, disgrace."
A sense of community spirit is also evident with some residents saying that they would be happy to do the gritting themselves if the supplies to do so were made readily available.
Auchenback resident Jeanette Jones said: "The residential slip roads do not get done and my neighbour is in his 80s. I am petrified he is going to get hurt as our pavement and road is like an ice rink.
"Even if the council provided little piles of salt we wouldn't mind putting it down ourselves around the houses of those who really need it."
In October, the Barrhead News reported that while many local area authorities are cutting back their gritting fleets amid growing financial pressures, East Renfrewshire Council was maintaining its current fleet of vehicles.
Grit stocks were being stockpiled following on from the chaos of winter 2010, when the entire country ran out of gritting supplies during weeks of snow.
A council spokesman said: "We have included some 270km of the network in our priority routes - 57 per cent more than most councils.
"That means that every time there is a forecast of freezing or below we grit 270km of road normally twice in a 24-hour period.
"Urban shopping areas and precincts, other areas of high pedestrian concentration such as station approaches and steep hills in housing areas and in the vicinity of old people-s homes or sheltered housing are priorities.
"Fixed gritting routes are pre-planned by the roads service to ensure that, during normal winter conditions, those footways on the routes would be gritted, usually, but not exclusively, in the morning, when considered appropriate."
"There is at least one footway along the frontage of each school gritted. Gritting requests for any other pathways, car parks, playgrounds would be passed to the Education Department."
Adding that it was "not possible to grit every road and footway", the spokesman continued: "All requests for assistance including the re-stocking of grit bins are noted and assistance provided when resources from our priority operations become available.
"We have 12 gritting vehicles available, seven of which are normally used in our pre-gritting operations but are supplemented by the additional five during extreme conditions."
Reports from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents show that every year up to 250,000 people in the UK suffer injuries from falling while in public spaces.
However, the rate more than doubles during the winter months, and hospital admissions due to accidents can often double or triple.
The most common injuries include broke wrists, ankles and head injuries from falling or slipping on ice or snow.
This article appeared in Barrhead News 19 Dec 12