Chamber meets on gritting issue

COOKSTOWN Chamber of Commerce are considering taking the issue of frozen footpaths into their own hands as they prepare to host a meeting next week.

The Chamber is one of the first in Northern Ireland to invite Belfast-based Winter Maintenance company Saltworks to describe how they can help avoid a repeat of last winter’s chaos.

Local businesses are keen to tackle the issue early on, said Chamber President Brian Jordan. “Last year I think everyone shied away for fear of litigation,” he said. “The figure lost to local businesses for what is essentially a peak time of the year could have been as much as a third - and that can’t happen again.”

Robert Burns, a director within Saltworks, will attend the meeting in the Burnavon on Wednesday October 5 at 10am and provide information on the services they can offer to the town. “This meeting is about informing people,” said Mr Jordan. “We want to alert businesses as to what they can do, what options are avilable to them and what their responsibilities are.”

Last winter it remained unclear as to where the responsibility for gritting and salting footpaths lay - with the DRD, council and local businesses all reluctant to do so.

Next Wednesday’s meeting comes as the council debates whether or not to sign up to an agreement with the DRD, making the council “agents” of Roads Service. The agreement - which would cost the council £25,000 - is also understood to offer protection from expensive insurance claims from members of the public who injure themselves in wintry conditions.

Mr Jordan said the Chamber is keen to work with the council to address the issue. “We want to work in cooperation with the council - I want a bit of clear thinking here.”

The meeting on Wednesday is open to all businessmen and women in the area as well as local councillors.