ARGYLL and Bute Council is planning to recruit community volunteer help to keep Helensburgh's pavements safe during cold snaps this winter.

Community involvement in gritting and clearing pavements in the event of very cold weather has been suggested by officials from the authority.

Discussion took place during a meeting of the authority’s environment, development and infrastructure committee on Thursday, September 12.

Forecasts the previous weekend had indicated that another ‘Beast from the East’ may hit the UK in January and February.

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And Councillor Ellen Morton, who chaired the meeting in the absence of chair Councillor Roddy McCuish, endorsed the opinion that communities could become involved in efforts to fight it.

She said: “When I was young, nobody used the phrases ‘community resilience’ or ‘community engagement’.

“It was just taken for granted that every shopkeeper and householder went out and cleared the pavements of snow.

“I know a lot of people in the community still do that. What we want to do is encourage that.

“The days of expecting the council to do everything have gone – that is the reality and there is no sign of it changing soon.

“It is very important that footpaths are as safe and accessible as possible

“We want people to shop in our town centres, but if they are not safe, people will not come in.”

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The committee was discussing the council’s winter maintenance policy, which was announced to the public shortly after the meeting.

Councillor Jim Findlay initially floated the idea of the public becoming involved in order to avoid slippery pavements during a cold snap.

He said: “Most people here [at the meeting] are drivers, but a high number of people in Argyll and Bute don’t have vehicles and there is a demographic of elderly people.

“About 10 years ago South Lanarkshire Council took the decision not to grit pavements in East Kilbride. The result was a significant increase in visits to A&E the next day.

“I would ask us to consider getting out of our style of thinking and working with registered social landlords on problem areas. This is really joined-up thinking.”

Jim Smith, the council’s head of roads and amenity services, said: “There are some very good suggestions.

“Community maintenance is something we are aiming to do – we just don’t have the number of staff needed to do it as well as carriageways.

“We just about manage to do carriageways. We are hopeful we can get volunteers – we can provide equipment and materials.

“Councillor Findlay has some good ideas and hopefully we can get communities on board to assist.”

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In February, the council approved an additional £500,000 being allocated to winter maintenance as part of its budget for 2019/20.

The council has 31 frontline vehicles ready for action during winter, with another two spare in case of breakdown.

There are also a further six which can be deployed if necessary as well as tractors and V ploughs.

The policy can be found at