MID and East Antrim Borough Council is set to enter into a partnership with a Stormont department to ensure ice and snow is cleared from busy town centre footpaths this winter.
The council has agreed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department for Infrastructure to minimise the impact of prolonged spells of wintry weather on trade and citizens.
Members of the council’s Operational Committee agreed to enter the pact with the Department for the next three years. This will be brought to full council for ratification on Monday 5 November.
A report on the move reads: “The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) clearly sets out that neither Transport NI nor councils have statutory obligations to salt footways.
“The lead party in relation to the implementation of the MoU is the Department for Infrastructure, who will initiate the agreement and extend indemnity to council whenever they operate under the agreement.
“Council as part of the agreement will nominate a representative who will liaise with DfI (Department for Infrastructure) officers to prioritise the key footpaths and areas to be treated and respond to any request to implement the agreement.”
Mayor Lindsay Millar said: “The implementation of this agreement during times of severe weather contributes to maintaining the functioning of any active vibrant town centre, which contributes to growing the economy – this council’s number one priority.
“It ensures the safety of residents and town centre users, thereby protecting the health and wellbeing of our citizens, and it helps to deliver excellent services through a joined up approach between council and the Department for Infrastructure.
“We welcome the proactive approach taken by a number of our traders in recent years to ensure our walkways are accessible by members of the community and keep our town centres open for business.”
Council has also agreed a deal with DfI, who will provide supplies of grit for use by the public at household recycling centres and other areas across the borough – a move aimed at encouraging everybody to work together during spells of bad weather.
Bannside Traditional Unionist Voice councillor Timothy Gaston said on Twitter: “Welcome step forward, the next step for DfI Roads is to allow farmers to spread bus routes where they don’t have the resources to.”