Show some true grit and help clear Swaffham streets, says town council

The Buttercross in Swaffham. ENGANL00120140402160040
The Buttercross in Swaffham. ENGANL00120140402160040

More volunteers are still needed to widen the area covered by Swaffham’s volunteer gritting programme, officials have warned.

Although 16 residents have agreed to take part following a meeting at the town hall on Tuesday, the figure is well below the number who joined when the scheme was first set up five years ago.

Now, organisers have renewed their appeal for more people to join in and help to make a real difference to their communities.

And they fear costs are also likely to rise as the funding squeeze on local government continues.

The programme, which is led by the town council, encourages volunteers to work alongside the authority’s staff to keep pavements clear of snow and ice during the winter months.

Town clerk Richard Bishop admitted it may well have to snow before more residents sign up, but said he was encouraged by the response so far.

He said: “The meeting yesterday at the Town Hall was reasonably well attended, with some new volunteers welcomed.

“We are looking to keep the town centre clear as our main priority and then it will be down to the volnuteers to get to their particular road or street.

“If the snow is still on the paths in your street the chances are there are no volunteers.”

Between 25 and 30 volunteers signed up when the scheme was first launched. Since then, the idea has been rolled out to towns and villages across Norfolk.

But, although Norfolk County Council has supported the programme, Mr Bishop believes the town council will end up shouldering a much greater share of the burden over the coming years.

That includes new bins and the salt to go in them, as county stocks only stock existing bins.

He said: “We will continue to invest in more bins and more equipment to meet the demand, as the town continues to grow.

“Whilst grateful to Norfolk County Council for their support, there are challenges ahead in budget cuts at the county level, so inevitably it will be down to whether the town council choose to pick up these additional costs year on year.

“It is very likely that the town council will be stumping up the full cost of the grit in the not too distant future.

Anyone interested in taking part should email enquiries@swaffhamtowncouncil.gov.uk or phone 01760 722922 for more information.