Budleigh phone lifeline formed

An emergency response network is being set up to help the elderly and vulnerable in bad weather – and the town council need volunteers.

Dubbed by deputy mayor Courtney Richards as the ‘Budleigh Society’, councillors say they need community-minded residents willing to help clear snow and provide essentials in the event of another freezing winter or heavy flooding.

The new emergency committee, chaired by Councillor Alan Jones with deputy mayor Courtney Richards, Caz Sismore-Hunt and John Shiel, was convened for the first time on Tuesday.

And 50 people, including representatives from the Otter Valley Association, Hospiscare, Age Concern and Budleigh Lions, as well as PC Simon Evans, packed out the Public Hall to ask questions, suggest ideas and pledge their support.

Cllr Jones said a dedicated telephone emergency number would soon be set up at the Public Hall, adding: “It would not be for general emergencies… but mainly to deal with things such as snow and flash floods…

“We all remember last year what areas like Northview Road and Honey Park Road were like (ice and heavy snow).

“The idea is that, if someone rang up and needed help, such as an elderly couple unable to get to the chemist or to the food shop, the person who answered would know which volunteer lived closest and then would call on the couple’s behalf.”

Most Read

Volunteers could either be ‘shoppers’, ‘shovellers’ - to clear paths and pavements – and those with four-wheel-drive vehicles to help with medical emergencies.

A network of 10 gritting bins, placed at strategic locations, will also be purchased, thanks to a contribution from County Councillor Christine Channon.

He added: “We discovered last year that there was a pecking order for salting and gritting roads.

“I often hear about people being liable for prosecution if someone slips on an area outside your home or business you have cleared. This is not true - it is an urban myth.”

Deputy mayor Courtney Richards said: “I don’t want to use David Cameron’s term - I prefer ‘Budleigh Society’ not ‘Big Society’.

“I think the county council should have snow ploughs up and down the town, but I can jump up and down and it won’t make it happen, so we have to help ourselves.

“We just need a list of names of those willing to be called on when the time comes.”

If you would like to be put on the list, call town clerk Jo Vanstone on (01395) 442245.