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Rhondda Cynon Taf Council is launching its Your Neighbours Need You campaign, to encourage residents to be ‘good neighbours’ and look out for one another during periods of severe winter weather.

This campaign was recommended by the Council’s Public Service Delivery Scrutiny Committee, to support the wider work of the Council to prepare for the potential of severe weather during the winter period.

Last winter, the County Borough experienced two periods of snow with freezing temperatures – in December 2017 and March 2018. While the Council’s proactive approach and comprehensive response was praised, there’s always more that can be done in preparation for severe weather.

Your Neighbours Need You

The Council has since bought three 4x4 vehicles fitted with snow ploughs, which can access side roads that its larger lorries cannot. Also, in October 2018, Cabinet agreed that the Council should encourage communities to come together, with neighbours helping each other during extreme weather.

The Your Neighbours Need You campaign encourages residents to help each other – and in particular vulnerable people – during periods of heavy snowfall. It promotes a number of small actions that ‘good neighbours’ can undertake during severe winter weather – which could bring freezing temperatures, an inaccessible road network and a halt to services.

A new campaign website has been published on the Council’s website, to provide detailed information and advice on how to be a ‘good neighbour’ when the snow strikes. Here is a broad summary of the advice being provided:

  • Checking in on your neighbours – especially elderly or vulnerable people, who may be reliant on important services or help which cannot be delivered during periods of severe winter weather. From offering to do their shopping to ensuring their heating is working, small acts could make a big difference.
  • Spreading salt from grit bins – when temperatures fall, the Council will spread salt on priority roads and ensure grit bins are topped up. But residents can do their bit too, by spreading ordinary salt on footways and ensuring their own driveways, and those of neighbours, are covered – when safe to do so.
  • Clearing snow safely – the Council will target key roads and town centres to clear snow, bringing in contractors where possible. However, it is inevitable the Council can’t reach every street in Rhondda Cynon Taf. Individuals can do their bit, clearing snow when it is safe to do so.
  • Keep up to date with news – and pass it on! – keep an eye on Council social media during periods of severe weather. The accounts will provide up-to-date information including important advice on travel, road closures, weather updates and services. Elected Members will also provide vital local information, so look out for messages from your Local Councillor. Share any important messages with neighbours.
  • Servicing your vehicles – motorists should consider whether it is safe to drive, and whether their journey is absolutely necessary. If it is safe to drive, a number of checks and actions should be taken by motorists. For example, check tyre pressures and pack an emergency kit, including blankets, just in case. Sources such as the RAC and AA will provide more information about this.

Councillor Steve Bradwick, Chair of the Public Service Delivery, Communities and Prosperity Scrutiny Committee, said: “This important campaign has resulted from our scrutiny working group, established to consider how communities can support the Council’s response to severe winter weather.

“The Your Neighbours Need You campaign is promoting the small actions which can be undertaken by residents, which will make a big difference to an individual or community when bad weather strikes. It is especially important that neighbours do their bit to support elderly or vulnerable residents.

“The two periods of inclement weather experienced last year brought significant disruption across the County and, whilst the Council had taken a number of steps to prepare for the onset of the weather, the volume of the snowfall presented major issues to many of our communities. 

“The Council only has limited resources in tackling the disruption and must always prioritise the condition on our main routes, so we are asking the public to help us – particularly in our side streets.

“Severe episodes of winter weather often prompt us to stay inside in the warm, although I would urge residents to think whether ‘Your Neighbours Need You’ – especially if they are elderly, as they may not have access to the services they may rely on.”

Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and Cabinet Member with responsibility for Highways, added: “In response to the work of scrutiny, Cabinet Members made a commitment for the Council to promote community self-help during times of extreme winter weather, with residents looking after one another when snow could – in the very worst circumstances – result in services being stopped, roads being impassable and communities being isolated.

“This campaign has come about following the valuable work undertaken by the Public Service Delivery, Communities and Prosperity Scrutiny Working Group. A report by the Group was put before Cabinet in October 2018, and it has informed these changes.

“The Council’s proactive approach to the severe weather in December 2017 and March 2018 was widely praised, and the Your Neighbours Need You campaign, along with the purchase of brand new 4x4 snow ploughs, will ensure that we are even better prepared when the snow next hits.

“This campaign is another valuable piece of work undertaken by the Council’s scrutiny functions.”

The Your Neighbours Need You Campaign was one of a number recommendations made by the Public Services Scrutiny Committee to the Council’s Cabinet, to support the Local Authority in preparing for winter weather. The consideration of this matter by scrutiny followed a Notice of Motion to establish a voluntary snow warden scheme in Rhondda Cynon Taf, tabled in the names of Cllr Pauline Jarman and Cllr Shelley Rees-Owen.

Follow the campaign on social media through #NeighboursNeedYouRCT, and visit our new Your Neighbours Need You homepage on our website: www.rctcbc.gov.uk/NeighboursNeedYou.
Posted on Wednesday 5th December 2018

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