Snow Summit

A detailed report and series of recommendations have been published following the recent ‘Snow Summit’ organised by West Sussex County Council.

The event involved representatives from all the public services across West Sussex, the business community and transport providers such as bus and rail companies.

The March 11 summit was webcast, and the public were also able to email questions about the response to the severe winter weather conditions

The report and recommendations have been compiled by the specialist crisis management company that ran the event, which was designed to look at what worked well, and what areas could be improved.

The report says that the West Sussex Public Services Board (PSB) is best placed to look at and implement the recommendations because it is the key partnership forum for all public sector services in the county from local authorities to the NHS and the police.

County Council Leader Henry Smith said: “As the report states, it is difficult to predict whether the run of snowy winters will continue, but the summit has highlighted a number of issues that need to be tackled in order to improve the response.

“It was a very worthwhile event, and I want to thank everyone who took part.

“The report makes interesting reading, and it also shows there was a great deal of excellent work by all the public services during the snow and icy conditions, with staff often going the extra mile to overcome problems.”

 Recommendations include:

· The County Council should work with partners to develop its strategic role in the co-ordination of bulk purchasing of grit/salt to take advantage of economies of scale and in securing supply, working with other local authorities to pre-position supplies at key locations in advance of seasonal weather. The PSB should consider funding support for purchase and storage.

· The County Council should work with farmers to agree a snow clearance scheme and the PSB should consider funding the equipment to enable this to happen.

· The County Council, the borough and district councils, the town and parish councils and other appropriate partners should assess what routes, beyond the priority ones, need to be treated and how that could be achieved, including the scope for community self-help. The PSB should consider what investment might assist this.

· Partners should consider for next winter how pavements, shopping precincts and other pedestrian areas could be cleared through improved co-operation and encouraging community self-help.

· Town and parish councils, communities and individuals should be given unequivocal advice on the legal position on clearing snow.

· Information from all partners ideally should be made available as soon as possible. Linked to this is the need for more co-ordinated communication with the public on public sector priorities, pressures and self-help. This should be addressed in planning for the future.

· All public bodies should pool information on vulnerable people and support joint plans and community self-help to ensure the safety of vulnerable people. The County Council should take the lead on this.

· Schools should develop improved contingency plans with the aim of remaining open wherever possible.

· Organisations should develop policies and procedures to support staff in working flexibly and identify the blocks that require to be removed to enable it to happen.

The full report is available on West Sussex County Council’s website

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