Saturday, May 11, 2024

Council hiring fleet of OAP snow clearers to solve gritter driver shortage

elderly snow plough
Suffolk OAP Bill Robinson training for council snow-clearing duties

Suffolk County Council is hiring an army of pensioners to clear snow this winter.

The nation’s driver shortage is hitting the road gritting fleet, meaning roads could go uncleared when the bad weather arrives.

But highways chiefs have come up with an ingenious and cheap alternative plan.

They have placed adverts for elderly people to head out into the snow and clear roads with adapted walking frames.

Council spokesperson Lorraine Fisher, 34, explained: “There are plenty of old people out there with little to do to pass the time.

“This gives them a renewed sense of purpose and some extra money in their pocket.”

OAP snow clearers will be paid £4.25 an hour and given a free hat and scarf to help cope with the chilly conditions.

Asked why the rate was so low, Ms Fisher said: “Our tests and training so far has shown they are very slow, so we have to work out an hourly rate that reflects the amount of tarmac they can actually clear in any shift.”

Pensioners keen to get involved can expect fantastic conditions. Hours are 4pm to 6am and, once they have walked to their designated road, they can go home as soon as they have finished.

However, local hospital medics are not sure the plan has been thought through.

Dr Steve Walshe, of Ipswich Hospital, said: “While the council might be saving some pennies exploiting our elderly, it will be costing us a fortune in cases of hypothermia and broken hips.”

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