There has been no end of coverage in the local media of the failure of local councils to grit and clear footpaths. Whilst I think councils should have had a plan in place I also think far too much is being asked of them.
When I arrived at work on Friday I knew the path outside our office on High Street would require clearing. On the way in, I stopped and bought a stiff broom and when I arrived I set to work clearing the snow and ice. Unfortunately I was one of only 3 on Bangor's High Street that seemed to bother. Had each shop or office taken the same action as we had then the paths would have been cleared and it wouldn't require action from the council.
Now obviously that doesn't solve the whole problem but it would show that people were prepared to make an effort of their own to help. If you're not prepared to help yourself, then why expect others to do it for you?
For me it represents a wider issue: that of a lack of community spirit amongst businesses and residents alike. It's all very well forming community associations and indeed, there are no shortages of them, but it's evident that many of them are not coming up to the mark. What is the point of an association to benefit the community if it does not take the initiative itself and instead relies on others?
If I was on Council, I would be writing to each local community group to begin consultations on a plan for next year. People know that council can not treat and clear every path but if they know a community group is prepared to clear their own patch, then council can prepare a plan that coordinates that. What we would then have is a comprehensive plan to treat the majority of our pavements that is based largely on the efforts of the local community.
Personally, that's the kind of plan I like. It's somewhat cliche to quote JFK, but he was on the money with 'ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country'. We just need to remember that country and community are interchangeable.