From Martin S
Anyone who has had difficulty during the past week trying to walk up or down the pathway at the side of the new car park on Station Road may be interested to know that I recently wrote to Calderdale Council and accused it of "crass negligence" in not laying a non-slip surface.
The reply I received is as follows:
“1. The footpath alongside the above car park has an average gradient of 1 in 15 (or 6.7%), which is less severe than many of the footpaths in Calderdale, and not regarded as particularly steep.
2. It was surfaced in tarmac with a nominal aggregate size of 10mm which is larger than the usual footbath material, which utilises 6 mm aggregate. It therefore offers of course, more slip resistant finish.
3. Due to the nature of the material, newly laid tarmac has a tarry finish which can be slippery when wet, but this oxidises and wears-in with use, achieving its optimum slip resistance after a few weeks/months, depending on usage.
4. I estimate the cost to coat the footpath in an antiskid material at £2,000. Due to the point stated above, such a coating is unnecessary and the extra cost is unjustifiable.
As a final comment, the scheme has achieved all of its design objectives and the contractor has achieved a high standard of finish. I am happy to answer your queries and explain the reasons behind design decisions, however, your accusation of "crass negligence" is quite inappropriate.”
Calderdale is fond of talking about gradients and used this same spurious reason in connection with the wavy path in Calder Holmes Park. When mentioning the gradient I'm not sure whether Calderdale is assuming that I am stating that it should tear up all paths with such a gradient in Calderdale and resurface them in a non-slip material. What about common sense?
I just feel that it would have been a good opportunity to spare people potential injury by laying a non-slip surface. A surveyor I know said that a non-slip surface would not have cost any more than the present service. I myself don't know if it would have cost any more. Whether the surface does oxidise and it becomes safe to walk on in icy weather is yet to be seen. However, even if it would have cost £2000, that must be less than treating injuries at the hospital and ancillary costs (loss of earnings etc.).
From Zilla Brown
I myself have fallen more than once in Hebden over the last few icy days. I agree that the new footpath at the east end of the park is now a potential hazard since it has been given a tarmac surface. The new wooden rail at the side of the path is impracticle too as its far too low to hang on to. There aren't even any grass verges at the sides so one is forced to attempt the path. Ditto the bridge near the post office- another skating rink.
Even the pavements actually in town were icy today - doesn't the council have a duty to keep them safe in bad weather?
From Martin S
Talking about the bridge over to Holme Street, it is just a year since I fell badly on ice there and did some permanent damage to my wrist. I find it incredible that whoever is responsible for it (both British Waterways and the Council initially denied responsibility) can get away with not ensuring that it can be crossed without danger. I'm surprised that the parents of the schoolchildren and the school itself have not complained about it.
From James Elsdon-Baker
I don't understand why the Council fails to grit pavements and only grits roads. The risk to pedestrians is huge. Perhaps some system where temporary grit pits are put out in icy conditions so people can grit their own bit of pavement near them. It wouldn't cost that much to do compared to the cost in A&E of all the accidents that must occur.
From Janice S
I emailed the Council on Thursday about the treacherous icy state of St George's Square. I saw several people (some elderly) struggling to cross it - I had to hang onto the bollards to stop falling, so they are at least useful!
The pavement by the outdoor market was also bad, and I think it was 'flu jab day' at the Health Centre as a lot of people were struggling to get there.
The Highways Department haven't got back to me yet, but their website says:
"There is no precautionary salting of pavements. Salting and snow clearance is carried out after a period of heavy snowfall or in extreme icy conditions. This service is provided in town and village centres, along shopping parades, on main roads where there is a significant pedestrian flow and on access paths to hospitals, bus stations, and some schools."
I think Station Road and the town centre should qualify for salting under this paragraph. However, I have to say that I'm surprised that some of the traders hadn't stepped in and helped to grit the Square on Thursday. The market area was also apparently very icy - perhaps the market manager could do something. Having said that, I couldn't see any grit bins. Are there any in the town centre? I'd rather take matters into my own hands than wait for the council workers, if it's really dangerous.
From Graham Barker
Years ago, when I were a lad, traders would routinely clear snow and ice from the pavements in front of their shops. The practice died out with the rise of the compensation culture. If, by clearing a pavement, they created any kind of hazard - residual ice, mounds of snow etc - they risked being sued for consequential injury or loss. The liability is probably even greater now, and probably applies equally to householders. Thus, to be legally safe you leave well alone. Sad.
From Janice S
Perhaps, if I take matters into my own hands, I could disguise myself as a masked superhero so no-one will recognise me and sue me (assuming Gordon Brown hasn't cornered the market in superhero outfits). I'd have to supply my own grit though - I couldn't find any grit bins in the town centre, not even at the bottom of Birchcliffe.
I understand that the icy pavements issue is going to be discussed by the Hebden Bridge Partnership next week, so I'm hopeful that something will be done.