'Snow champions' sought by Cumbria County Council

Jayne Varty
Image caption The first volunteer is Jayne Varty, vice chair of Pategill Tenants' Association

Volunteers willing to help clear snow and ice from paths and pavements near their homes are being sought by Cumbria County Council.

The council said it planned to recruit up to 300 "snow champions" as part of of the new scheme.

The volunteers will get high-visibility vests, gloves, a snow shovel and salt for use on agreed stretches of walkways in local communities.

Jayne Varty, 43, from Pategill, Penrith is the first person to be recruited.

She said: "I do it for the sense of community. People often talk about helping others, but not many actually get involved.

"I have a neighbour with spina bifida who can struggle to get around in a wheelchair when it's been snowing.

"There are also many older people living in sheltered housing nearby and for them a trip to the shop round the corner can be pretty dangerous."

'Hands on deck'

The council said the scheme meant it would have a record of which areas were being cleared and could provide people with the right equipment and guidance.

The cabinet member responsible for highways, Tony Markley, said: "This new scheme is an extra investment in winter maintenance, but will only be as effective as the people willing to take part.

"In reality, the number of days when it's necessary to clear snow and ice are relatively infrequent, so it's not a huge commitment.

"But we want to be sure that when the bad weather comes, we have many more hands on the deck helping out."

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