Council chief regrets ‘lost opportunity’ for ‘gender neutral’ snow clearing in West Lothian

A senior councillor has hit out over a decision to clear snow from roads before pavements – insisting future downfalls should get the ‘gender neutral’ treatment.

Tuesday, 23rd February 2021, 4:45 pm
Snowy scenes like these missed on 'gender neutral' path clearing, says council boss

Frank Anderson, the SNP depute leader at West Lothian Council said roads crews had not grasped a ‘lost opportunity’ during recent heavy snowfall to copy one Swedish city’s clearance plans.

It is almost two years since the councillor first suggested copying the policy pioneered in the Swedish city of Karlskoga where authorities decided to clear footpaths before roads.

In 2012, officials in the western Swedish city launched prioritised clearing of footpaths and cycle paths around schools, daycare centres and then large workplaces before roads in what became known as “gender neutral” snow clearing. Most pedestrians, the city council found, were women, and most drivers men.

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'Lost opportunity' - Councillor Frank Anderson

This winter West Lothian Council has faced a blizzard of complaints about empty salt bins and snow and icebound pavements left uncleared.

As heavy snow fell across the county again last week residents took to the streets themselves to clear footpaths, including for elderly residents in Ballencrieff Mill, Bathgate. In Dedridge, Livingston, residents cleared a road to allow a hearse access to their street.

Councillor Anderson said: “The priorities of the council need to be reviewed. Clearing the pavements first makes more sense if we are encouraging more active travel. It is a lot easier to drive a car in 6cm of snow than it is to walk, especially if you are pushing a buggy.

“We should copy the Swedish authorities who have ploughs which ‘sweep and salt’ footways and cycle paths. There are more accidents involving pedestrians slipping. falling and injuring themselves than are involved in motor accidents during winter. It was really encouraging to see the community clearing the snow from their areas but being hampered by empty grit bins, on many occasions.

A council spokesperson said: “West Lothian Council’s approach to winter service is similar and consistent to all other Scottish local authorities in so far as it bases its winter service provision on the principles contained within the Code of Practice ‘Well-managed Highway Infrastructure’ – 2016, issued by the UK Roads Liaison Group.”

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