Winter 2012/2013 – An update of our thoughts…

We have had an odd sort of winter so far….

There has been a situation featuring a rapid snow fall, late on a Friday morning, which meant that some sites which had only contracted us to grit areas for 5 days of a week, did not receive specific attention until the following Sunday night/Monday early morning, after being gritted in the early hours of the Friday prior to snow falling. This is the nature of the 5 day cover. Customers who contracted their sites to 7 day cover raised no concerns this year.

Similarly we have had issues where the nature of the warnings from the Met Office which trigger our service have come under closer scrutiny. Unfortunately we are bound by copyright legislation about the circulation of all the data we have at our disposal. The simple answer is that if there is a warning issued by the Met Office for a specific area (usually based on postcode) then a solicitor potentially prosecuting a compensation claim would demand that the duty of a property owner is to react to that warning by responding in a reasonable and appropriate fashion to the level of risk or hazard. This puts a burden of pressure upon the Met Office issuing warnings to those who grit. This is a limiting, objective, yes/no system.

It can be complicated by searching for greater detail and interpretations. Certain issues have been posed which are not answered in a subjective manner relevant to the particular site.

“..how cold is cold?” “..is it cold enough to be icy?” “..what will happen if the snow melts?”

“..some areas on that site will thaw slowly because they are in the shade.”

Some estates suit certain levels of service more than others. It would be impossible to offer an estimate about how obliging, how practical, how enterprising some occupiers of premises may or may not be in the pursuit of a solution to the problems posed by winter.

In at least one instance, the gritting service we provided had gone unnoticed by tenants on an Estate (we can confirm using satellite tracking when a site has been gritted retrospectively!) and much to the surprise of other users of the Estate, a visiting delivery driver proceeded to clear and grit most of the car park spaces, from grit he had on his truck!

In another instance, businesses faced with a quiet day for staff in cold conditions, asked drivers and warehouse men to clear snow or spread grit which the tenant happened to have, because they were unaware of where liability and responsibility lay. We are as a nation, still generous, practical problem solvers, thankfully!

We have debated this in our offices in great detail and feel the need to share our clarifications, not conclusions. I feel it is a matter that will evolve and at no time will we ever get to a stage where we can cover every possibility posed by nature.

This is our Mission Statement as a Landscape Management Company in all weathers!

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