Snow clearance advice

Snow clearance advice from Northumberland County Council

Many people believe if they clear snow or ice from outside their property or from the public footpath they could be sued if a member of the public were to slip on the area cleared. It is the view of Northumberland County Council that if people clear ice or snow from a public footpath in a safe and correct manner as outlined in the Governments snow code then it is very difficult to envisage circumstances where a court would award damages against them for a slip.

The following advice is from the Governments Snow Code:

Moving Snow
Think about where you are going to put it, make sure it will not cause problems. Ensure you don’t block other people’s paths or the road and do not pile snow over gullies or drains as this may stop melting snow draining away.

Use Salt or Sand
Be careful not to make pathways and pavements more dangerous by causing them to refreeze. Do not use hot water, this may melt the snow and ice but is very likely to refreeze turning to black ice causing more risk than it prevents as black ice increases the risk of injury because it is invisible and very slippery.

Repeat Salt Spreading
Remember salt can be washed away you may need to repeat salt spreading. You can use ordinary table salt or dishwasher salt – a tablespoon per square meter cleared should work. If you don’t have enough salt then use a little sand or ash, these won’t stop the freezing as well as salt but will provide grip underfoot. Clear Snow & Ice Early in the Day it’s much easier to clear fresh snow than hard packed snow, so if possible start early in the morning. If you remove the top layer of snow in the morning, any sunshine during the day will help melt any ice beneath. You can prevent the area from refreezing overnight by spreading some salt on the area you have cleared before nightfall.

Prevent Slips
Pay extra attention to steps and steep slopes – to clear snow & ice from these areas additional salt should be used to reduce the risk of slipping.

Take Care
Take care when you’re moving snow, first clear a small path down the middle of the area to be cleared, so you have a safe surface to walk on. Then shovel the snow from the centre to of the path to the sides. Use common sense and don’t do anything which would be likely to cause harm to others.

Clothing
Wrap up wear suitable warm clothing make yourself visible and wear footwear that provides a good grip.

Be a Good Neighbour
Some people may be unable to clear their paths, if your neighbour has difficulty getting in and out of their home offer to clear their path for them. Check that elderly or disabled neighbours are alright in cold weather. These are king and practical steps that most of us can take during cold weather.

Freedom of Information Act requests

Procedures for dealing with Freedom of Information Act requests

It is important that the Parish Council should deal with all Freedom of Information Act requests in a consistent and transparent way, and that councillors should be aware of all such requests and their outcomes.

  1. The Council will aim to respond promptly to all requests made to it under the Freedom of Information Act. To assist this process, parishioners should be made aware that all such requests must be made to the Parish Clerk in writing.
  2. If any councillor receives such a request, he or she will pass it on to the Parish Clerk without undue delay. However, the statutory 20 day period for replies will begin only when the request reaches the Clerk.
  3. If the request is of a routine nature, and can readily be met without requiring undue resources, the Clerk will respond directly, making a copy of the original request and reply available to all councillors through the correspondence file.
  4. If it appears appropriate to charge a fee for answering a request (for example, if a large volume of paperwork is involved), the Clerk will consult with the Chairman of the Parish Council about the level of payment requested.
  5. If the request needs clarification, is of a complex nature requiring considerable resources to answer, appears to involve sensitive personal data, or is potentially vexatious, the Clerk will consult with the Chairman (or other designated councillor) to determine the extent to which the request can be met. If the request cannot be met in full, the Chairman and Clerk will agree on the response to be sent back to the requestor, explaining the grounds for any refusal. In doing this, they will at all times follow the guidelines published by the Information Commissioner’s Office. Again, a copy of the original request and reply will be made available to all councillors through the correspondence file.
  6. The Parish Council will maintain a Model Publication Scheme as required by the Freedom of Information Act, and update it on a regular basis.

John Eakins
13/6/11

Millfield Road update – 9th May 2011

Millfield Road Bridge

Report from BT Bell received.

 

Millfield Road Bridge

 

BT Bell have now completed their report into the state of the Millfield Road bridge. A copy of their report may be viewed or downloaded here, and their covering letter here. Please address any questions or comments on this report to Monica Anderton, Parish Clerk.

Previous inspection reports on the bridge are available here:
2001 report and 2004 Report.

Millfield Road bridge inspection report

Millfield Road Bridge

New inspection report on Millfield Road bridge now available

 

Millfield Road Bridge

BT Bell have now completed their report into the state of the Millfield Road bridge. A copy of their report may be viewed or downloaded here, and their covering letter here. Please address any questions or comments on this report to Monica Anderton, Parish Clerk.

Previous inspection reports on the bridge are available here:
2001 report and 2004 Report.

Revised policy on covenant release

Revised policy on covenant release

Following a ruling from the District Auditor earlier this year on the legality of charging a resident for the release of a restrictive covenant, the Parish Council has sought fresh legal advice. In the light of this advice, it is now drawing up a revised policy on covenant release, which it hopes will be seen as fair, equitable and consistent.

Here you can view the Parish Council’s revised policy:

Covenants Policy

Covenants_Legal_Advice

Background

In 1973, the Parish Council took over several pieces of land from the now-defunct Riding Mill Estates company, together with responsibility for restrictive covenants on some properties in the village. Since then, the Parish Council has sought to charge residents for lifting restrictive covenants affecting their properties. This policy has been the subject of some dispute within the village.

The District Auditor was recently asked to give a ruling on whether the Council was acting unlawfully in charging for the release of a specific covenant. He confirmed that the Council had acted in a way consistent with the advice they had received from their solicitors and from the District Valuer, and was therefore acting lawfully. He did, however, ask the Parish Council to seek legal advice on the enforceability of its covenants, and use this advice in formulating a revised policy for managing covenants. The Parish Council has now received this advice, and is using this as the basis for a revised policy.

Policy on vexatious communications

Policy on vexatious communications

This Policy covers vexatious demands and/or repeated requests for information including Freedom of Information Act requests.

Under this policy the Council will consider repeated requests for information or variations of the same request, on a single issue, to be vexatious and unacceptable where the Council has already answered the request. Where excessive use of the Council’s time is being made in dealing with such requests, no response will be made except to inform the member of the public making such request that the requirement is unreasonable.

Taking into consideration the context and history of a request, a decision as to whether it is vexatious will be made on one or more of the following criteria:

  • Can the request be fairly seen as obsessive?
  • Is the request harassing the Council, or a Councillor or the Clerk?
  • Would complying with the request impose an unreasonable burden?
  • Is the request designed to cause disruption or annoyance?
  • Does the request lack serious purpose or value?
  • Where the communication of the member(s) of the public is considered vexatious, the person(s) will be informed and given the grounds for such decision.

If the conduct or correspondence of a member of the public or of a group of persons acting together is considered vexatious, the Council may refuse to respond to communications from that person or group of persons for a specified period of time or may limit the amount of such correspondence that will be dealt with.

Complaints policy 2010

Broomhaugh and Riding Parish Council – Complaints policy 2010

A

  1. A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction by one or more members of the public about the Council’s action or lack of action or about the standard of service, whether the action was taken or the service provided by the Council itself or a person or body acting on behalf of the Council.
  2. This complaints policy is intended to be
    (a) well publicised
    (b) helpful and receptive
    (c) not adversarial
    (d) fair and objective
    (e) quick, thorough, rigorous and consistent
    (f) decisive and capable of putting things right where necessary
    (h) regularly analysed to spot patterns of complaint and lessons for service improvement
  3. 3 At all times the rules of natural justice will apply

B

  1. A complaint against any Councillor individually should be made in writing to the Clerk (or, if the complaint is against the Clerk , to the Chairman)
  2. The Clerk will refer the complaint to the Chairman (unless the complaint is against the Chairman, in which case the complaint will go forward under B 4 (below)).
  3. The Chairman will seek to deal with the complaint to the satisfaction of the complainant
  4. If the complainant is not satisfied (or if the complaint is against the Chairman), the complaint will be referred to the Council, who will seek to satisfy the complainant
  5. The complainant, if not then satisfied, may seek redress elsewhere, eg the County Council.

C – PROCEDURE UNDER B4

  1. The complainant must put the complaint in writing, backed up with documentation or other written evidence of his or her claim
  2. If the complaint is referred to the Council under B4 above, a meeting shall be set up with the complainant (and a representative, if desired) and the Council.
  3. The Council shall consider whether the circumstances merit the exclusion of the press and public
  4. The Complainant should outline his or her case and then questions may be asked by the members of the Council.
  5. The Clerk or a nominated officer shall explain the Council’s position and questions may be asked by the members of the Council and the complainant.
  6. The complainant and other parties with an interest shall leave the room while the members decide by majority vote whether the complaint was justified.
  7. The complainant will be notified within 7 days of the Council’s decision and of any action to be taken if the complaint is upheld.
  8. There is no further right of review or appeal within the Council following conclusion of B4 (above).