Weather report plea gets cold shoulder

Reporter:

Andrew Boyd

IT was dubbed the Big Freeze – weeks of sub-zero conditions that brought the region’s roads to a standstill.

However, now a new measure to help combat the effects of plunging temperatures has been given the cold shoulder.

Following last winter’s freezing weather, Flintshire Council is calling on volunteers to monitor local forecasts and proposed gritting action.

They would then make concerned parties aware of planned action in their area. But the concept of getting town councillors involved has been poorly received.

At a meeting of Flint Town Council a long-serving member of both the town and county council spoke out against the proposal.

Cllr Alex Aldridge, of Flint Coleshill ward, said: “They [Flintshire] are the local authority. I find what they want us to do extraordinary.

“They should be the ones doing it.”

Cllr Aldridge later went further in his criticisms of the proposed system. He said: “This is not something members of a community council should have to be responsible for.

“We are not trained weather forecasters and I fear the blame would be passed on to us when there are problems.

“The council employs enough workers to be able to deal with the situation themselves.”

Cllr David Cox, of Flint Coleshill ward, described the move as “sheer impudence”.
He added: “How do they expect us to forecast the weather – by pointing a finger in the air?

“I don’t know. We are not weather forecasters.

“I see this as a non-starter. As a town council we have limited resources, whereas Flintshire Council has staff employed to do these sort of things.”

Cllr Cox also drew comparisons with weather forecaster Michael Fish and the criticism he received after giving incorrect assurances over the Great Storm of 1987.

He said: “I would hope no criticisms would come the way of community councillors if the weather is bad.

“You only have to think back to what happened with Michael Fish to see what can happen if anyone gets the forecast wrong.”

Steve Jones, Flintshire Council’s head of Streetscene, has clarified the new role.
He said: “The request for information on winter conditions and the council’s proposed gritting action came originally from the town and community councils at the regular forum meetings held with council officers.

“There is no intention to avoid any responsibility for providing the service, but to pass on useful information to interested parties within the community.”

The recommendations were made at a meeting of the council’s environment and regeneration overview and scrutiny committee.

This winter will see an increased number of salt bins in the region, with bins currently being filled in anticipation of freezing conditions.

In a letter to Flint Town Council, Carl Longland, Flintshire’s director of environment, wrote: “Prior to filling, however, each location is to be assessed to ensure it meets the council’s criteria for the provision of salt bins.

“Any found not meeting the criteria will be removed.”

Several locations for salt bins have been identified in Flint, including Cornist Drive, Bryn Gwyn and Bryn Helyg.

Last month it was revealed the council would be drafting in an extra 1,000 tonnes of grit in case Arctic conditions strike again.

See full story in the Leader

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