Inquiry launched over Welwyn Hatfield snow clearance

PUBLISHED: 17:37 18 February 2009 | UPDATED: 21:11 26 October 2009

Cllr Malcolm Cowan

Cllr Malcolm Cowan

AN inquiry is set to be launched over who was to blame for snow-covered pavements not being cleared or gritted. As reported in last week s WHT, paths across the borough were left icy, when the heaviest snowfall for years hit the country. This week Liberal

AN inquiry is set to be launched over who was to blame for snow-covered pavements not being cleared or gritted.

As reported in last week's WHT, paths across the borough were left icy, when the heaviest snowfall for years hit the country.

This week Liberal Democrat county and borough councillor Malcolm Cowan is demanding an explanation as to why nobody took responsibility for clearing the streets, leaving residents to struggle to walk on the ice.

When contacted by the WHT, both Welwyn Hatfield Council and its contractor Serco claimed it was not their job to clear paths.

Rather, it was the county council's domain and no emergency clause was included in their contract.

Meanwhile, a county council spokeswoman blamed a simple "misunderstanding" between the two authorities.

But it has come to light an emergency clause for Serco staff to assist in clearing paths does exist.

Serco's grounds maintenance contract states: "The client [borough council] may require the contractor [Serco] to completely clear a one metre strip of snow and ice from the total length of one side of a footway."

A spokesman for Welwyn Hatfield Council claimed the clause could only be activated on the county council's say so.

But Cllr Cowan fumed: "The county contacted all 10 district and borough councils asking for help, but Welwyn Hatfield refused.

"We need to find out how to work better in future."

Cllr Cowan said: "The refusal by Welwyn Hatfield Council is appalling.

"Why do they need the county's permission anyway? They have got their own footpaths outside old people's homes to get started on."

He added: "They worry about the health and safety of staff, but nobody worries about the health and safety of residents.

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