Dear Andrew Lewer,
I read with real interest about the work that Derbyshire County Council is doing to encourage members of the community to become actively involved in keeping local roads free and clear of snow this winter.
We often see examples of public bodies generating all manner of excuses why community minded activities like this cannot go ahead. As the Chair of the Health and Safety Executive, I have challenged many of these stories and endeavoured to set the record straight.
I am delighted to see that there's clearly a lot more common sense in Derbyshire. In proactively and constructively finding ways for town and parish councils, farmers and other willing local businesses to get involved in some gritting and snow clearing operations, you are setting an example that we would love to see other authorities follow.
Derbyshire not only contains some of Britain's finest landscapes, but also experiences some of its harshest conditions. Travelling to our Health and Safety Laboratory near Buxton provides a glimpse of the dramatic hills of the Peak District, but after snowfall you can't get there at all without a good gritting and clearing operation.
If we do face another severe winter, we need many more local authorities to be encouraging residents to do the responsible and neighbourly thing shifting their own snow and any that their more vulnerable neighbours cannot do themselves. There's no health and safety reason for them not to - and with a bit of civic encouragement, I am sure the county of Derbyshire can set an example to the rest of Britain. "By good counsel", indeed.
Thank you so much for taking the time to write to me, commending the attitude of Derbyshire County Council to engagement with the public in winter. Derbyshire embraces the concept of 'Big Society' and I believe the encouragement of citizens and parishes of the county to assist in adverse weather is an excellent example of the Big Society in action.
Regrettably, there remains a legacy of fear of litigation which has served to discourage some from doing their bit. Your letter is of great assistance in allaying those fears and will, I am sure, lead to even greater numbers aiding their fellow citizens.
Derbyshire County Council will continue to see to join in partnership with town and parish councils and civic minded individuals to provide a high quality service to all.
Councillor Andrew I Lewer (Conservative)
Derbyshire County Council
Leader of the Council
And Local Government Association
Deputy Chairman and Deputy Group Leader