Mid Ulster Council agrees to grit icy town centre paths

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The new Mid Ulster Council has agreed to help tackle the problem of icy paths in the town centres of Dungannon, Cookstown, Magherafelt and Maghera after heavy snowfall or prolonged freezing spells.

However, the commitment stops short of gritting public car parks in the town centres.

During severe cold snaps in previous winters, anger had mounted over the failure of statutory agencies to take responsibility for the footpaths.

A widespread public campaign to ensure the safety of pedestrians resulted in the majority of Northern Ireland’s councils changing their policy.

The main obstacles to gritting had been insufficient resources, funding and the threat of litigation.

The decision to treat slippery pavements was reached at December’s monthly meeting of the Environment Committee.

The three predecessor councils to Mid Ulster District Council all had separate agreements in relation to the treatment of footways in the region’s business centre, which were approved on an annual basis.

According to the council, the gritting of the paths should incur little additional cost to the council as it plans to use street sweeping and other resources not needed during heavy snowfalls and prolonged freezing spells.

The council has also decided that it should be under no obligation to carry out any works where it would be dangerous for its employees to do so.

“Given that the Council has not identified any budget or resources for the winter maintenance of off street car parks and that the DRD/Transport NI have not treated these facilities in the past the directorate is not proposing to implement any winter maintenance in relation to off street car parks”, the environment committee decided.

“The Council simply does not process the necessary resources to enable the implementation of a winter maintenance policy for Car Parks.”