Residents were trapped by ice

PUBLISHED: 14:39 07 January 2011

The residents of Budleigh Salterton have a right to feel extremely angry about the way the local authorities reacted to the recent difficult weather conditions.

A heavy fall of snow hit East Devon on the night of Thursday, December 16, and again, more seriously, on Sunday, December 19. Clearly, the main task of the local council was to try to keep main roads open, and this it eventually managed to do.

After that, it needed to turn its attention to the many side roads, which were impassable and often treacherous as packed snow turned to thick ice.

In this task it seems to have failed completely.

A week after the original fall of snow, despite the intervening dry, often sunny but freezing weather, many streets in Budleigh Salterton remained icebound.

Their residents, particularly the elderly, were completely trapped.

No grit or salt was delivered – either spread by the council or left in sacks or bins for people to spread themselves. All rubbish collection stopped.

Other services – including the post and various Christmas deliveries - managed to get through. But, as far as East Devon District Council was concerned, Budleigh Salterton became a no-go area, sealed in ice and its own rubbish and left to its own devices.

Luckily, its people are resourceful: they adopted the concept of a “big society” long before modern politicians invented it.

In my view, the council has been guilty of neglect and should be made to pay the price.

Some people have muttered about withholding their council tax.

I would recommend, instead, that they demand a full inquiry so that they can call both officials and elected representatives to account.

No doubt, if they do, they will be told that access to Budleigh Salterton was prevented for reasons of health and safety. To which they should respond that it is about time local officials thought less about the health and safety of their institution and more about that of the citizens it is designed to serve.

Hugh Williams,

7 Cliff Terrace,

Budleigh Salterton.

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