Guildhall Square ‘like an ice skating rink’

People find it difficult to walk across an icy Guildhall Square at lunch time yesterday. DER4716GS002

People find it difficult to walk across an icy Guildhall Square at lunch time yesterday. DER4716GS002

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A Derry councillor has accused various organisations of “passing the buck” after witnessing several accidents on the untreated icy surface of Guildhall Square yesterday.

Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly said a number of older people were among those who suffered falls in the area.

There have also been reports of people needing treatment after falling victim to slippery pavements.

Speaking about Guildhall Square yesterday, Colr. Donnelly said: “It was like an ice skating rink. There were pensioners and children slipping and falling all over the place.

“This is the main pedestrianised area at the heart of our city, and yet the first bit of bad weather and this is how it is left.”

Colr. Donnelly said he had contacted Derry City & Strabane District Council and Transport NI, as well as other agencies, yesterday regarding the issue. He said: “I think it is a disgrace that nobody could even put down a bit of grit at the main pedestrian thoroughfare in our city .

“It’s down to a culture of ‘buck passing’, “ he claimed, adding: “This wouldn’t happen in any other city.”

Council and Department of Infrastructure/ Transport NI offered differing views as to who was responsible for gritting the pedestrianised areas.

A spokesperson for Transport NI said they have “agreed local arrangements” for the removal of ice and snow from town centre footways during prolonged winter weather.

“TNI will provide the salt to enable the councils to provide this service and may assist with providing staff if resources permit and are available, however our main task must be to keep the primary road network salted,” she said.

A Council spokesperson however said that under a Memorandum of Understanding between the Council and Transport NI responsibility for the gritting and maintenance of public roads and pathways lies with the Department.

“If required, in extreme weather conditions such as heavy snowfall or prolonged freezing, Council may be called upon by the Department to assist in the clearing of snow and ice from footways and pedestrian areas, and will be officially notified by the Department should these support services be required,” she said, adding that no request for assistance to treat surfaces had been received by Council.