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Customers – please stay at home!

11 Feb

We read a lot about how local shops need good convenient free nearby car-parking and how out-of-town shopping and internet shopping are creating difficulties for the high street.

So let’s see how one section of high-street is managing to attract customers in this cold weather we are having. Fyi, it snowed 6″ a week ago and hasn’t done so again at all since then. If the shop-owners had cleared it on the first day they would have had a clear pedestrian approach all week.

My story takes place along this row on shops is on the south side of Felixstowe Road at the junction with Derby Road in Ipswich (See it on Google streetview). Being on the south side does of course mean that they have had no sun on the pavements to help clear them. You should also be aware that the legal footway  stops in front of the post-box and telephone box. The land behind is private property and the shop-keepers can do what they like with. The footway should be keep clear for pedestrians, however they are would probably get more custom by attracting people to walk past their doors. Interestingly, they could also be legally liable for anyone who slip over while coming to their shops which is not something that I think they have considered. Here is the street scene back when it was warm when the Google Streetview car came through town.

Street-scene back when it was warm (and the pavements were clear)

This first picture taking today shows the bed-shop van parked as normal on the area outside the bed-shop (on private property) with sheet ice on the pavement where people have to walk.

Nice crossing, shame about the sheet-ice – nice van!

Here is a close up of the ice on the crossing by the van. Lots of money spent by the council on blister paving and bollards, but not effort from the locals to keep it usable this week.

Trying getting across there! Why doesn’t a shop-keeper sort this?

Here is a view from the other direction, the diagonal black car was ‘only going to be 2 minutes’. The other back car it probably partly partially obstructing the footway.

Nice ice sheet and nice wheels.

A little further along and there is the sign for the hair-dresser out across where people are walking (which is private property as the owner reminded me). I spoke to her because she had objected to my bike leaning against her shop and came out and moved it!

Shop owner explained that pedestrians should go to the left of the letter box

What is a shame really that she someone didn’t come out a bit earlier and stop this driver from blocking the pavement on the zigzags of a toucan crossing with his large van. The driver explained to me that he had ‘only been two minutes’ and wasn’t interested at all.

Van blocking view to toucan crossing – not concerned at all!

Finally, and a little further down the road we come to the Red Cross shop. Nope, they hadn’t cleared their forecourt at all, it is partly clear only because a car happened to be parked on the spot over the night when it snowed. They gave various reasons for not clearing both their forecourt and also the pavement, which included 1) we don’t have a shovel 2) we would have to buy salt 3) we tried but it was too hard 4) We would be liable if we touched it (wrong) etc etc. What is sad of course is that another division of the red-cross, for whom my wife works as it happens, is dealing with all the old folk coming into hospital who have fallen over on the ice this week. (Stop Press: see below…)

Red-cross – nope, they didn’t clear the snow – the clear bit was where a car was parked!

So there you have it. Yes – a few people are able to park really close to where they are going and can then slither along like everyone else when trying to actually get to their destination. But.. no, it is not attractive and I can’t believe that there has not been a shop-keeper or shop-assistant who would not have been able to find time this week to clear it.


OK, so I passed by again this afternoon. A new car had blocked the pavement joining the advertising signs, However the Red Cross shop had obviously had a re-think and cleared their access which is progress!

Another car blocks the footway

Red Cross clear their forecourt. A success!

I did not want to be mistreated…

8 Feb

We have had a comment on our Facebook page today suggesting: “Ask your council to include on radio traffic updates a reminder the pedestrians have a right to walk in the road, esp when the footway is covered in snow and ice (and the road is clear thanks to the gritting we all pay for). Drivers should keep speed down and proceed with utmost caution.”

Needless to say, pedestrians are hardly allowed to use the pavement at all, except in places and at times where it is not required by motorists. I am reminded of when Rosa Parks refused to stand up on the bus in Montgomery to allow a white man to sit down (the deal at the time there was that ‘colored’ people were only allowed to sit in the colored section of the bus, which was demarcated by a movable sign hung from the ceiling). As normal, the sign was moved backwards on that day to provide enough space for a white person to sit down. Of course, Rosa refused to stand, all hell broke loose leading to a bitter civil struggle which continued for years. Life afterwards for Rosa was not easy but the story of her gentle defiance is  told to every child in the land and her body now lies in state in Washington. In 1992 She explained that:

I did not want to be mistreated, I did not want to be deprived of a seat that I had paid for. It was just time… there was opportunity for me to take a stand to express the way I felt about being treated in that manner. I had not planned to get arrested. I had plenty to do without having to end up in jail. But when I had to face that decision, I didn’t hesitate to do so because I felt that we had endured that too long. The more we gave in, the more we complied with that kind of treatment, the more oppressive it became.

Not wishing to be over dramatic, but there are parallels. Blacks were expected to retreat as required for the convenience of whites, and pedestrians are currently expected to retreat as required for the convenience of motorists. Anyone who challenges the status quo has hell to pay.

Rosa Parks, with Dr. Martin Luther King jr in background 1955 (USIA)

With thanks to Wikipedia!

Three ways to clear snow

7 Feb

Three different strategies for clearing snow. The first picture shows a local shop-keeper who has actually cleared the pavements and dropped-kerbs outside their shop to make it easier for customers and passers-by alike. Thank you. We then have the nursing home where they cleared the path very very carefully right up to the edge of their property and then stopped; I can only presume that they believe (incorrectly) that they could be prosecuted for clearing the snow to the edge of the carriageway or indeed all along their frontage. Finally there is the dumb-headed approach where householders clear snow from their property and pile it up on the pavement where it obstructs pedestrians. More common than one might hope as can be seen from the two examples below.

Here are a few snowy pictures:

A shop-keeper clears outside his shop – keep it up!

Nursing home in fear of actually clearing the pavement

Let’s just pile this nasty snow up on the pavement (and then drive on the pavement!)

Let’s pile the snow along the pavement, no one uses it anyway!

As a postscript… after clearing the snow along the frontage of my house I noticed a couple of guys clearing snow off the roof of their car piling it up across the pavement I had just cleared. I, not very politely, (sorry) suggested that they might like to remove it which they did without complaint which was decent of them, but it is interesting to note how little social awareness there is around all this.

Think pedestrian, especially when it snows!

5 Feb

Ipswich hospital did an excellent job clearing snow from its service roads today, but unfortunately failed to clear its pavements effectively, which is a shame, given the considerable workload that slips on snow and ice create for the NHS.

Some of their pavements had been dressed with salt but there was then too much snow for that and the paths were soon covered in slush and will probably freeze solid tonight. It’s a good job that emergency services are just round the corner! All of the following pictures were taken on busy routes on hospital grounds.

‘Critical care this way’, but no effort to clear the path to it.

Road cleared, path covered in slushy snow, now freezing

Nice pedestrian crossing, road cleared of ice, path has not been.

For anyone who is still in doubt, residents are encouraged to clear pavements and business owners are at risk of prosecution if they fail to clear snow effectively. The ‘Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957’ states that a business must “take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that the visitor will be reasonably safe in using the premises for the purposes for which he is invited or permitted by the occupier to be there“. (Section 2.2) Lots of occurrences of the term ‘reasonable’, but personally I think it is reasonable to expect a large hospital with thousands of staff and visitors arriving each day to take a bit more care to keep their primary pedestrian routes clear of snow and ice. It would certainly set a good example for others to follow if nothing else!

Be un-prepared and then do nothing!

21 Dec

As a boy scout I was encouraged to ‘be prepared’ and then act if appropriate. While in town today I discovered that the shopkeepers weren’t prepared for the snow and then didn’t respond. They were inside staying warm while their customers were fighting there way through the snow and slush outside. These modern shop-keepers seem to expect the ‘authorities’ to do it for them and if the authorities don’t then it doesn’t get done.

A set of stone steps outside the Buttermarket shopping centre were covered in snow. The manager said they had tried to clear it but had ‘failed’, remarkable given the normal fuss about ‘Elf and Safety’. He also said that they certainly wouldn’t clear anything that wasn’t owned by them because of the risk of getting sued, which just doesn’t happen. He didn’t think they could even make a donation to the boy scouts to do it for them. BHS didn’t seem to have done anything either.

Meanwhile the BBC was reporting  ‘Cold weather hits major retailers’ shares‘ and the Ipswich Evening Star was proudly advertising ‘5 pages of coverage of snow reports’. Is this Big Society or Little Britain. I will continue to encourage these people to wake up and sort things out for themselves rather than waiting for ‘nanny’ to do it for them.

Slush on Tavern Street

Slush mounds in Arras Square

Slush up to the entrance of BHS


Steps covered in snow and slush


5 pages of snow reports!

Travel “chaos”? Your snow stories….

19 Dec

The BBC has been asking for your stories of ‘travel chaos’ saying “The snow continues to disrupt transport networks”. Speaking for myself, we had a lovely walk today and were not alone… no chaos that we could see anywhere. The roads were particularly quiet. A good opportunity for people to explore where they actually live for a change.

People walking on Rushmere common

Clearing snow from pavements

30 Nov

In Minneapolis residents residents are reminded by the local authority to clear the snow on the pavement (sidewalk). The authority’s website says politely that ‘Keeping our sidewalks free of ice and snow is the neighbourly thing to do’. It then goes on to make it clear that residents that the law “requires that property owners clear sidewalks after the end of a snowfall within 24 hours for houses and duplexes, Four daytime hours for apartment and commercial buildings (daytime hours begin at 8am)”.

In the UK the Telegraph rather unhelpfully reported in January 2010 that “Health and safety experts warn: don’t clear icy pavements, you could get sued”. The government has now made it clear that you can clear snow with a proviso that you should avoid making the pavement more dangerous. It then says: “don’t be put off clearing paths because you’re afraid someone will get injured… Remember, people walking on snow and ice have responsibility to be careful themselves. Follow the advice below to make sure you clear the pathway safely and effectively.”

David Howarth who is a former MP for Cambridge and a former lecturer in Law at Cambridge University goes further. He says “furthermore, in the very unlikely case where the intervention does make the situation more risky, it is not enough to show that the passer-by fell over. The passer-by would have to show that he would not have fallen over anyway, or would not have injured himself just as badly in some other way – something that is very hard to do”.

He goes on the say “Finally, even if the risk was made worse and the injury was caused specifically by the enhancement of the risk that the householder was responsible for, there is still no liability unless the passer-by can prove that the householder acted in an unreasonable way. Since most people think, as you and I do, that it is perfectly reasonable to clear the snow from the pavement outside one’s house, even if the case had not been thrown out previously, it would fail on this point.” Finally that “There is no known case of anyone in this country ever being sued successfully in these circumstances“.

He signs off saying “There is no need for a change in the law. What we need instead is a change in the quality of the people who write and edit newspapers“!

So, get clearing!