Council to partner with Roads Service to keep footpaths clear

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COOKSTOWN council has confirmed that they will work in partnership with the DRD to keep footpaths ice-free this winter.

Ivor Paisley, the council’s Director of Corporate Services department confirmed that Cookstown Council would act as an agent of the Roads Service in assisting with winter gritting on selected footways.

The Regional Development Minister announced the plans for the department to work with councils to keep footpaths clear of snow and ice in town centres and pedestrian areas.

Minister Kennedy said: “The Department has agreed to make salt and grit available free of charge, to Councils availing of the partnership agreement. Roads Service would also supply manpower to Councils where resources permit and provide an indemnity to Councils or groups working on their behalf. Whilst there is no legal responsibilities for either Councils or Roads Service to treat footpaths, the NI Local Government Association has signed up to key principles regarding cooperation with Roads Service during severe winter weather.”

“The negotations are ongoing between NILGA and DRD but as far as we are concerned we are happy to work as an agent for the Roads Service. If we are called by them to help clear footpaths in Cookstown town centre we will,” Mr Paisley said.

“We would encourage traders to keep their shopfronts clear but we remind them that they are liable if they do so. We will have insurance to do any clearance work we carry out. We hope there will not be too much frost or snow this winter.”

President of Cookstown Chamber of Commerce Brian Jordan warmly welcomed the news after last year’s confusion on who was responsible for clearing footpaths. “This is great news, Christmas has come early for traders knowing that they have the resources of the council behind them this winter.

People should also help themselves, if everyone does a little it will help the town and their own business. If traders don’t do anything to clear their shopfronts they may be equally liable.”

Salt bins and grit piles will be provided for people to use in their local areas to treat the public roads and footpaths which are not gritted.

A spokesperson for Magherafelt Council said they are waiting on negotiations between NILGA and the DRD being finalised before making a decision but would discuss the proposal at their next meeting.