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Grit happens (but not when it snows)

Time to go on the piste on the slippery slopes of St James Mount

Published on January 7th 2010.


WELCOME to Linz. Sorry, Liverpool which has become the world’s biggest skating rink.

So Liverpool has run out of salt. Does it come with a sell-by date?

A bit of notice and we could have enlisted the go-go penguins for a real winter wonderland. You can see the feelgood headlines now. ‘Snow Festival attracts one million visitors and earns half a billion for the local economy”.

Alas, someone missed a trick on Tuesday morning when Upper Duke Street was transformed into a ski-slope.

We’ve had artificial skating in Williamson Square at a fiver a go, but just when you thought it was safe to go back to work, here we are on the slide on one of the steepest hill-starts in the city centre.

It was left to unsuspecting motorists and a bus driver to make this Alpine discovery, courtesy of a few crash, bang, wallop encounters on the junior slopes. Luckily nobody seemed to be injured.

You can say luckily, but then again who can recall the double decker which, a few years ago, mounted the kerb and hit a stone wall in nearby Catharine Street? When the accident happened there might only have been the driver and about six passengers involved. But imagine the ambulance service 's surprise when it turned up at the scene and twenty-odd people were "injured" and waiting to be treated..

So Liverpool has run out of salt. Does it come with a sell-by date? Salt, after all, is millions of years old, so sitting in a depot somewhere in North Liverpool won’t do it any harm.

The council, by and large grits main roads, bus routes and key routes towards hospitals. Strange then that until a few years ago a small side road in Aigburth was gritted with such enthusiasm, you could be forgiven for thinking it was the M62.

One of the residents of the road happened to be the chief executive of the council. I know the said executive did not request or condone this enthusiasm. Indeed it must have been

an embarrassment to him, though his neighbours were ever so grateful.

It prompted this imaginary phone call to LDL.

DH: Hello. Sir David here.
LDL Operative: Who?
Sir DH: I’m the city's chief executive.
LDL Operative: Oh, can I put you on hold?
Sir DH: Why are you gritting my road?
LDL Operative: To stop people falling over?
Sir DH: Yes I appreciate that, but we are only supposed to do main roads and bus routes.
LDL Operative: But...
Sir DH: I don’t care if you did have a couple of shovelfuls left over – you are not supposed to do these side roads, especially three times a day.
LDL Operative: Er...
Sir DH: And by the way, why are you gritting now? It’s the middle of June.

Maybe some junior ranking officer thought he’d earn a couple of brownie points treating one minor road of his master as a major. In the recent episode of harsh weather the same road remained, like other side roads, untreated.

There was a time when council road sweepers were sent out and about to grit pavements. Navigating some city centre streets in recent days has been hazardous.

Should we blame the council for not having enough salt? Should we demonstrate some true British grit and spread a little bit of salt on our own doorsteps.

Snow might have deserted the banks of the Mersey in recent years, but we need to be better prepared for extreme weather.

Until then, strap on your leiderhosen and yodel your way through the Liverpool Alps, otherwise known as St James Mount.

Larry Neild

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20 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

My (bruised) arseJanuary 5th 2010.

They really are an absolute shower. Bradley's whining that it's the government's fault is absolutely unbelievable. Where is £250k a year Colin Hilton while this is going on? Do his roads get gritted like Henshaw's? What about McIlhinney, the man in charge of Liverpool Direct? This city's administration has once again proved to be a huge joke

SnowJokeJanuary 5th 2010.

An independent inquiry is needed to look at the chaos caused by this week's snow storms. Listening to Mr Bra dley blaming the government and the government saying it's down to LCC will do no good at all.Here's what we need to established: how much grit did Liverpool have stockpiled BEFORE any griting started. Compared to the miles of roads needing to be gritted how does that stockpile compare with neighbouring councils and other major cities.How many staff are engaged on gritting duties. Does the council still have a policy of utilising refuse collectors and street sweepers on emergency gritting duties as happened in the past. Who decided whether the gritters are sent out, who advises that person and is the level of gritting determined by the amount stockpiled.Why doesn't the council have an Emergency Weather Group to co-ordinate these kinds of episodes, including encouraging volunteer residents to help clear snow in their communities. We should not tollerate a situation where winter weather brings this city to a grinding halt. It is totally unacceptable, and with proper planning and foresight, avoidable. I personally thing some heads should roll over this fiasco. One can accept inconvenience as a result of bad weather, but for a major so-called sophisticated European city to grind to a complete standstill because major routes have not been sufficiently treated is unbelievable. The council leadership owes a big explanation to the people and a clear statement of what went wrong and why it won't happen again. We keep hearing about the massive wages we pay to our senior officers on the basis they are the best money can by. So why don't they prove it!

Liverpool WagJanuary 5th 2010.

Ha ha ha!

AnonymousJanuary 5th 2010.

Realise that Dig, but they should have just held their hands up like everyone else instead of falsely accusing the government of rationing their salt supplies.

scrittipolittiJanuary 5th 2010.

Hey Full of Grit, or "it was the council", you may not know this if you just read this webpage and the Echo but the same was happening throughout the country. You clearly didn't try very hard on the pavements -- my 75 year old mum managed to do hers in less than an hour. You have confirmed yourself as an armchair complainer. You'll be telling me next we should invest in some more snowploughs for the every 30 years that it happens . . . get a life. Or a shovel....

AnonymousJanuary 5th 2010.

Dig, is her name Grita Garbo

AnonymousJanuary 5th 2010.

Total incompetence. They normally get away with it because the people couldn't care less or believe all the gushing spin they read in the Echo. But this time the council have been found out.

snow bloody jokeJanuary 5th 2010.

More likely come cheeky council scallywag wanted to make sure Sir David had no excuse for not showing for work when the rest of the council staff were enjoying a snow day.

DigJanuary 5th 2010.

I poured boiling water on the ice on my doorstep last night. Melted it a treat. When I woke up somebody had put fresh ice there. I reckon it was the same scoudrels who put an A-Board in our garden advertising hot pasties and sausage rolls.

scrittipolittiJanuary 5th 2010.

I appreciate the moaning about the roads because I know everyone on this blog was desperate to get to work.... However, I think that each one of you who is moaning about the council should have a look at the pavement outside your front door. The pavements are the real disgrace (and not because the council hasn't cleared them) because individual property owners and businesses should clear them before they start ranting at "The Council". Where's the community spirit you all pine for if you can't be arsed melting and shovelling a bit of ice.As for businesses, I simply boycott any shop or restaurant that hasn't cleared the ice in front of their property... Hardly a revolution but something to be said for practising what you preach ....or should I say moan!

DigJanuary 5th 2010.

I know a girl in America that eats about £10 worth of grit a day.

Another Gritted TeethJanuary 5th 2010.

Where is Warren Bradley's PR manager? On holiday?

Mr A ClackJanuary 5th 2010.

Well said Scrittiplitti. And I am glad to see you got your Mother up out of the armchair to break and shovel up the ice on the pavement herself. Let them do it themselves. I am sick and tired of these moaning pensioners going on about it. I'm still waiting for my mother to do our path as she promised but she says the wheelchair won't grip on the pavement - obviously never heard of chains. It's an Electric one as well so all she has to do is hold the damn shovel and go full throttle a few times. Bone idle if you ask me, I think some people once they get into their 80s see it as the green light to be waited on hand and foot, the other excuse is the 8 steps up to her front door and wanting the ramps back, I've told her I need them for the car, it's a restoration job, long term project and anyway, how the hell am I supposed to take them back until she's cleared the ice - does she want me in a chair with a fractured pelvis as well? I might give social services a ring, see if they can get her down the steps and bring her round in one of those yellow vans they have, in fact I'll get on to them first thing in the morning. I'm like you, don't moan about it, just get it done, that's my motto. Oh and if anyone needs any segs let me know!

ObserverJanuary 5th 2010.

A council that couldn't organise a festival in Mathew Street is surely going to make a pig's ear of preparing for bad weather. The council is so busy telling us how wonderful they are, the best in the country for this, the most improved in the country for that, so when they have to prove just how good they are they fail, or rather slip on their backsides. Grit costs £35 a ton, so for the daily cost of their spin doctor they could have bought around 15 tonnes of grit.

Stranded of LiverpoolJanuary 5th 2010.

Get your finger out Liverpool, or rather your shovel. The roads and pavements are a disgrace. No excuses. You guys at the town hall have let the city down badly. Why or why are you all so bad at your jobs.

Saxa SamJanuary 5th 2010.

The supermarkets have no salt to sell to those of us who have to pay for our own.

AnonymousJanuary 5th 2010.

yes get off the computer and clear the pavements

AnonymousJanuary 5th 2010.

Also, Merseytravel don't appear to have helped by cancelling all the buses and not letting anyone know

the seven hills of liverpoolJanuary 5th 2010.

The City centre is basically contained in a 'bowl' and has been for over 800 years. All the main roads in ie from Dingle, Everton, Edge Lane, Prescot road, etc are major hills in (and out) so should of been a priority, none were gritted from what i have heard by people who come in that way. Hats off to merseytravel and its staff at the stations amongst all this, I usually only get the train now and then but they have been brilliant.

DigJanuary 5th 2010.

Why is everybody having a pop at the council about the weather? Does Mother Nature work for our council? It's not just Liverpool that is struggling. It's the whole country. Does anybody blame the council when we have a flood or somebody gets sunburnt? It's called 'force majeure'.

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