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Page last updated at 05:34 GMT, Wednesday, 20 October 2010 06:34 UK
Sheffield council asks for volunteer snow wardens
Stocksbridge in the snow
Shoppers in Stocksbridge struggle with the snow in January 2010.

Snow wardens are being recruited by Sheffield Council to keep the city's side-roads safe for drivers this winter.

The council launched the 'Great Snow Debate' after last winter's bad weather - the worst for 30 years.

The survey asked how gritting and snow clearing services could be improved

Now it is looking for volunteers to spread salt and clear snow from smaller roads and pavements which are not treated by gritter lorries.

In the online survey many people agreed that untreated side-roads caused serious problems for drivers and 50 of those who responded were willing to volunteer to become Snow Wardens.

But the council's Street Force team is looking for another 50 volunteers so that all areas of the city are covered by Snow Wardens. They will be issued with a shovel, high visibility coat and gloves and given some safety training.

John Charlton, Director of Street Force, said: "The idea is we'll train up snow wardens and when the bad weather comes we'll take a one-tonne bag of salt to an agreed location.

"Snow wardens will clear the snow with assistance from their friends and neighbours on the minor roads, the cul-de-sacs and the those places we never really have time to deal with."

The one-tonne bags of salt will be in addition to the usual grit bins provided by the council.

The idea for the Snow Warden scheme originated in Calgary in Canada, where a group of people known as Snow Angels commit to helping other more vulnerable members of the community in case of severe weather.

Snow in Sheffield, January 2010
Herries Road and Shirecliffe Road in January 2010.

Other councils in England are trialling similar projects, but it is the first time this kind of scheme has been run in Sheffield..

Gritter lorries will still tackle all the main routes as usual, and the council has already stockpiled 24,000 tonnes of rock salt with another 4,000 tonnes available in reserve in an emergency.

Last year 28,000 tonnes of rock salt was used on the roads in Sheffield so even if this next winter proves as bad as last year, the council is prepared.

John Charlton said: "At this stage the Snow Warden scheme is just a trial, but the results of the Great Snow Debate survey showed us that we needed to find a way to help people help themselves after they showed such concern about the state of the side roads.

"We hope that the Snow Wardens will complement the work done by the council's winter service."

In addition to the Snow Warden scheme, the city council's survey highlighted the need for more work to be done on the footpaths in the city centre, local shopping areas and hospitals.

As well as the 250 members of staff who were gritting footpaths last year, the Street Force team will divert staff from other areas such as park and cleaning services to boost numbers by another 250 if the snow is particularly heavy.

Every year, the council produces a winter maintenance public information leaflet and this will be updated to include advice for motorists and further information about the role of Snow Wardens.

Other measures being considered by the council to improve the service they offer in the event of heavy snow include the relocation of teachers and other staff.

This may mean, for example, teachers not travelling to their normal school, but helping out at the school nearest to their homes.

Anyone wanting to volunteer to become a Snow Warden can find out more by checking clicking here - Sheffield City Council - or calling 0114 2734567.

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