Shropshire Star

Council moves to thaw anger at claims over lack of gritting in Bridgnorth

Shropshire Council is to be quizzed by councillors after residents in Bridgnorth suffered in the icy weather last week.

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Town councillors in Bridgnorth claim that Shropshire Council 'neglected' their own winter maintenance plan, which led to several people suffering injuries on a couple of days last week.

However, council officials say that the maintenance plan has been followed correctly, with footpaths only being treated in times of prolonged cold weather.

Bridgnorth town councillor Julia Buckley said: “I have been inundated by messages from distressed residents whose children fell on the ice on Wednesday and Friday Mornings, sustaining broken bones, causing quite a queue at our local hospital.

"I have repeatedly asked the head of highways and current cabinet member why did Shropshire Council fail to grit the heavily-used footpaths on steep school routes?

"In Bridgnorth, we are used to being neglected by Shropshire Council, but I cannot believe that any public decision maker would knowingly put children in such danger. It is frightening."

Several parents and children had a sketchy walk to school, with reports of numerous falls and trips to hospital as a result.

Mother Rachel Seabright said: "My 11-year-old son told me when he came home on Wednesday that he had fallen over twice on his way to school. He said he slipped twice and hurt his back. Its not bad enough to take him to hospital but it is causing him some discomfort.

"I was walking my other son to St Leonard's and we had to walk in the road, the roads were fine but not the pavements. It just seems a bit dangerous really. There are three schools that use Innage Lane."

Meanwhile a man who was due to have a physiotherapy appointment at Bridgnorth MIU on Wednesday, decided it was best to cancel it as he slipped twice trying to get there.

Another Bridgnorth parent said that her daughter had to be taken to hospital with a head injury after falling on the Wednesday morning.

They said: "She sustained a head injury and had to be treated at Bridgnorth MIU. The most frustrating thing is that her accident was totally avoidable. I understand we can’t control the weather, but as we all know it is possible to mitigate against dangerous road and pavement conditions by gritting. The main access to a primary school should have been included on the gritter’s route.

"Rather than try to help us to understand why so many roads were missed, and ensure this doesn’t happen again, some of our local councillors instead thought it appropriate to pose in front of a gritting lorry the next day declaring a ‘fantastic job’ was being done. This felt incredibly insensitive to the many children who were injured as a result of the dangerous condition of the town’s roads and pavements on Wednesday.

"Thankfully my daughter is OK now, and I would like to thank the staff at Bridgnorth MIU for their excellent care."

The social media post of some local councillors commending the work of the gritting team was indeed the topic of some debate.

Another woman was left with a broken wrist after falling on Sydney Cottage Drive.

Hannah Davies said: "I've been going out for weekly walks with a friend, we've been doing that since lockdown. My drive is on a slant, and I got down there absolutely fine, but the minute I stepped on to the pavement I fell on my face and broke left wrist in four places.

"Where we are is one of the main routes to the schools. I have never known it like that, we've been doing this walk for a year and half. There's usually a chap that comes round on a little quad and does the pavements."

Shropshire Council's head of highways says that there has been a 'misinterpretation' of the winter maintenance plan.

Andy Wilde, head of highways with Shropshire Council, said: “Shropshire Council has a publicly available winter maintenance policy, in relation to the decision making and the operational activities it carries out. There is some misinterpretation regarding our winter maintenance policy and operational plan.

"The policy does not include the treatment of footways, other than during periods of prolonged sub-zero temperatures. I can confirm that all our actions and decisions have been carried out in line with our current policy and there has been no change to the policy or level of service since 2018.”