Clearing snow and ice from public footways

Residents' advice

There's no law stopping you from clearing snow and ice on the public footways outside your home or from public spaces. It's unlikely you'll be sued or held legally responsible for any injuries on the path if you have cleared it carefully and not made the conditions worse. Remember, people walking on snow and ice have responsibility to be careful themselves.

Clear the snow or ice early in the day

It’s easier to move fresh, loose snow rather than hard snow that has packed together from people walking on it. So if possible, start removing the snow and ice in the morning. If you remove the top layer of snow in the morning, any sunshine during the day will help melt any ice beneath. You can then cover the path with salt before nightfall to stop it refreezing overnight. Be careful - don’t make the footpaths more dangerous by causing them to refreeze.

Prevent slips

Please pay extra attention to clear snow and ice from steep footpaths or steps - you might need to use more salt on these areas.

Use salt or sand - not water

If you use water to melt the snow, it may refreeze and turn to black ice. Black ice increases the risk of injuries as it is invisible and very slippery. You can prevent black ice by spreading some salt on the area you have cleared. Be careful not to spread salt on plants or grass as it may cause them damage. If you don’t have enough salt, you can also use ordinary salt, sand or ash.

Take care where you move the snow

When you’re shovelling snow, take care where you put it so it doesn’t block people’s paths or drains. Make sure you make a path down the middle of the area to be cleared first, so you have a clear surface to walk on. Then shovel the snow from the centre of the path to the sides. Ensure that when clearing snow/ice you are not making another part of the path, or the road, more slippery.

Offer to clear your neighbours’ paths

If your neighbour will have difficulty getting in and out of their home, you could offer to clear snow and ice around their property as well.

Check that any elderly or disabled neighbours are alright in the cold weather. If you’re worried about them, please contact the Highway Correspondence team using the details listed in the contacts section below.

If you have an emergency and require assistance, please dial 999.

Remember - when walking in wintry conditions, please tread with care and wear appropriate footwear, particularly if gritting or clearing snow or ice.