Friday, 29 October 2010

Free Bags Full

The sudden cold snap of the past week has, much earlier than expected, brought memories flooding back of the frozen days of last winter's Big Freeze and the quite pathetic disruption it caused to the whole of the UK.

For me it brought back memories of my temporary role as pavement gritter for Worcester Park. During one snowy spell at the start of January, I made my way across the ice-rink pavements of Worcester Park to check on stocks of rock salt in the yellow them - fully expecting every bin to have been completely emptied.

Instead I found several bins almost full to the brim with rock salt and so I set about gritting the pavements of my road. It took me a good hour and a half of traipsing back and forth to the salt bins, filling up containers and spreading the grit by hand but I managed to de-ice a considerable stretch of pavement.

There was no shortage of help and appreciation - from the young chap who helped shovel grit into buckets for me and the woman who me carry a particularly heavy load to the man who helped me haul some containers into the boot of may car and the neighbours who opened their front doors and thanked me for my efforts.

Yet as I toiled away, the radio phone-ins where filled with callers adamantly insisting that they would not be clearing or de-icing any stretch pavements outside their homes as that is what they paid the Council to do.
Others insisted that they would only do their bit if they got a rebate on their Council Tax. I'm not precisely sure that I understand the logic of that argument. I cut my hand last year and applied a dressing to it - can I get a rebate from the NHS because I treated myself?

Of course not everyone was is a position to scrape ice from their pavement or haul buckets of grit around. I was never suggesting that the octogenarians of Worcester Park strap snow chains to their mobility scooters and carry on regardless.

What surprised me back then was the number of perfectly fit and able people who seemed to have lost the ability or simply the will to help themselves and others.

Any residents who are inclined to be a bit more community-minded and who live in the Sutton Council part of Worcester Park can get ahead of the game this year by collecting a free 10kg allowance of grit for use on footpaths, pavements or roads at the front of their homes.

You will need to bring your own bag or sack to collect the grit. Your garden waste sack or blue bin would be ideal, or a large plastic container.

Collection of the free grit is available from 10am to 5pm on 30 & 31 October 2010, and 6 & 7 November 2010

You can collect the grit from:

• Woodcote Green Garden Centre, Woodmansterne Lane, Wallington (collection from the Express Drive Thru only) (provided already bagged) 10am – 5pm on Saturday 10.30am – 4.30pm on Sundays
• Sutton Hospital (car park off Chiltern Road)
• Clockhouse (the central green at The Mount)
• Council offices (car park, Denmark Road, Carshalton)
• Kimpton Park Way Reuse and Recycle Centre – until 2pm on Sundays. (please check the webcam to avoid busy times –

You can also collect grit on behalf of elderly friends or neighbours or residents who don't have cars.

Check out Sutton Council's website at for more information and details of proof of identity/residence that you will need to provide.