Is this the “Big society”?

13 January 2011
Snow event - December 2010

Grit big society?

Our parish council last night voted to buy one metric ton of grit to clear our roads during future snow and ice events.

Responsibility for clearing roads rests with the local highway authority, Devon County Council. There is one main road into the village – 1 3/4 miles from a through route. Our road is not on the primary network of routes, prioritised by Devon CC for clearance. That’s despite the road being a bus route and the presence of a school in the village. We’ve been fairly lucky this year: twice our road was gritted and ploughed so that we were cut off for no more than 24 hours.

Yet, the main road is but one of several routes within the parish. Most outlying homes were cut off for up to 10 days in the December snows. Add to that, Devon CC now say that salt stocks are so low that it will only treat primary routes if there is further icy weather in January.

Faced with a bleak picture and hardship and disruption to farms and isolated homes, the parish council considered the self-help option. The chairman proposed buying the salt for about £160+VAT. He has sorted out a place to store the salt. The plan would be to get local residents to take responsibility for the road near their property.

From the point of view of limiting the chances of being cut off, it is a good plan. It’s good too to see community spirit to tackle a community problem. You’ve got to like the “just do it” spirit.

On the other hand, the highway authority should grit and plough. The authority provides a couple of dozen grit bins in the parish and fills them.

Taking local responsibility has significant short and long term implications.

Who takes the risk? Residents or the parish council? Or, does that still rest with county?

If the community takes the risk and the responsibility, how long before county pulls back completely? Would that be a bad thing?

Other services? Should we reopen local rubbish tips?

If this is the big society, there’s some big questions for us, as a community. Are we in a position – in our splendid isolation – to answer?


Snow event video

18 December 2010

Excuse the black spots – camera doesn’t like being pointed at direct sun.

Snow event

18 December 2010

About 12cm or more dumped overnight.

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More photos.

Photo of the day – Hail!

31 January 2010

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Mad winter weather: hail.

Lazy photo blog post no. 395.

Photo(s) of the day – Snow event

5 January 2010

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It started out okay. A light dusting at home and not much to speak of in Bideford. But, there was a distinct absence of buses on the Quay. The bus from Hartland arrived. The driver had set out from Barnstaple before the snow got bad. She was one of the last buses on the road as FirstBus, Stagecoach and Beacon suspended services.

The Link Road was blocked so we travelled the “back road” via Yelland, Fremington and Bickington. Each little hillock presented a challenge as more snow started to fall on untreated roads. Drivers let each other slide down the hills one by one. We completed the 9 mile journey in about an hour.

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Big lumps fell from the sky in Barnstaple throughout the morning. I cadged a ride home as there seemed little chance that the buses would resume.

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Back home, it was as pretty as a postcard and the roads were passable. Heck, I even saw a gritter lorry.

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Later on, however, the skies turned black and snow fell again.

Tomorrow looks like another snow event.

Photo of the day – #uksnow EX39 5/10

19 December 2009

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#uksnow EX39 5/10

Melted about 2 hours later.

A bad case of wind

14 November 2009

We have had worse storms since we moved here three years ago. Nevertheless, wind gusts overnight and this morning probably topped 50mph, possibly as high as 60. (Update: at 8.48 the wind seems to have picked up again.)

I’ve quickly checked the vulnerable garden and allotment bits and pieces. Oh, and the house is standing and not (I think) leaking.

  • Greenhouse: okay
  • Salad cloche: check, a bit battered, but holding
  • Cabbage and broccoli netting: still standing
  • Broad bean cloche: weighed down by rocks, hasn’t moved
  • 20 foot eucalyptus: swaying but erect
  • Back fence: ouch

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