Community spirit will make Blackburn a safer place this winter

With the Met Office predicting the third severe winter in a row, volunteers are being drafted in to grit streets throughout Blackburn. Nicknamed Winter Squads, the volunteers will be residents trained by the local council to both grit and clear any snow from allocated areas.

The three squads will be fully equipped and go out in force around the town during cold snaps. They will ease the pressure on the council and will also reduce the chances of drivers being involved in an accident. The bad weather wreaked havoc on Blackburn’s roads last year causing hundreds of drivers to claim on their insurance and get new motor insurance quotes.

Council chiefs said they came up with the idea after a number of residents came forward and said they wanted to do more to help their communities if there was another cold spell. Due to lack of resources the areas targeted by the teams would not usually be gritted as part of the council’s winter programme.

Councillor Mohammed Khan, executive member for Adult Social care, said “There is a lot of community spirit in Blackburn and the winter squads are fine examples of that. Let’s follow their example and all be good neighbours during winter and think about others over the holiday period. The volunteers will also target pavements outside local community buildings as well as any steep and hazardous streets.”

As well as treating minor roads the squads will check on elderly and vulnerable people during bad weather to make sure they are safe. The teams will focus on ensuring the vulnerable have ample supplies of food and medicine but will have the powers to summon extra help if they deem it necessary. If the scheme is a success, the council hope to extend it throughout the borough next year in preparation for the winter of 2012.

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