Anger over ice-covered paths

Anger erupted today after it emerged scores of people have been injured slipping on treacherous ice because pavements around the town were not gritted.

IPSWICH: Anger erupted today after it emerged scores of people have been injured slipping on treacherous ice because pavements around the town were not gritted.

Although Ipswich Borough Council has the responsibility for the upkeep of pavements, only the town centre paths were gritted, leaving many other areas covered with a hazardous sheet of ice.

On Christmas Eve, the problems came to a head, with the emergency department at Ipswich Hospital inundated with people sufferings falls. Meanwhile, the Minor Injuries Unit at the Riverside Clinic in Ipswich saw a 200 per cent increase in the number of patients coming in.

David Hodgkinson, a consultant in the emergency department at Ipswich Hospital, said: “We normally have about 15 patients an hour but at times on Friday we were having 25 patients.

“Around 50 per cent of those were down to falls and wrist fractures. The last couple of days, we have seen a lot of people come in after falls but it stepped up on Friday.

“The waiting room has been full. By the end of the day we will probably have seen 30 more people than normal.”

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A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council said there are too many pavements to grit across the town and that treating roads is the priority.

He said: “We keep the town centre pavements gritted but we do not grit all the pavements. We urge people to take extra care.”

However Mary Blake, a Labour councillor for the Westgate ward, knows just how important it is to ensure pavements are gritted after she suffered a minor fall herself.

She said: “The paths are lethal. They focus on the roads but not the pedestrians. When the council had notice that it was going to be a bad spell of weather, they should have made an effort to make sure the paths were gritted.”

Icy conditions forced the closure of several parks and a car park in Ipswich. Sports centres in the town were also closed by the borough council.

Christchurch Park, Alexandra Park and Holywells Park, as well as the Portman Road car park, were shut due to the ice, as they were too hazardous for people to use.

Maidenhall, Gainsborough, Whitton and Northgate centres also closed on Thursday for similar reasons. It is hoped they will reopen as scheduled tomorrow.

An Ipswich Borough Council spokesman added: “Steps are being taken to clear the ice from the Portman Road car park so it can be re-opened as soon as possible.”

He added that “safety” was the top priority and the parks will be closed until the ice has cleared.

Several refuse collectors slipped over and one had to be taken to hospital on Thursday with a suspected broken bone or fracture.

Glynis Wood, Clean Neighbourhood team leader at Ipswich Borough Council, said: “There have been a few slips and injuries. Our refuse crews were doing their best to get round, however they were having to keep to main routes due to the treacherous conditions.

“Walking and pulling wheelie bins was proving very difficult on Thursday.

The advice was that if your bin was not collected, normal collections would resume on Monday, so any backlog from Christmas Eve will be picked up.

Do you think more should be done to grit pavements in the area? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

Consultants in Ipswich Hospital's emergency department urged people not to go out unless necessary after being inundated with people who had slipped and fallen on the ice.

Jan Rowsell, a spokeswoman for the Ipswich Hospital, said on Thursday: “We have seen the largest number of fractures today since the snow began. People are trying to be careful, but it is so slippery and icy that it is very dangerous.”

The Riverside Minor Injuries Clinic also saw a large increase in patients, mostly suffering from slips and falls. Between a third and a half of all patients were getting treatment after suffering falls.

Pat McCulloch, 55, of Foxhall Road, Ipswich, a cleaner at Ipswich Hospital, fell and slipped on the ice as she got out of the car to post a letter.

She suffered a crack in her hand and had it put in plaster. She will now have to be off work for four to six weeks.

Mrs McCulloch said: “It was so painful that I knew something was wrong. Every step, I was sliding all over the place. It was very bad on the pavements.”

A spokesman for Weatherquest explained that the reason conditions were so treacherous was because a layer of ice had formed over compacted snow.

He said: “When you have rain or mild air coming over the surface layer of the snow, it becomes quite smooth and becomes a thin film of slippery ice. It is like lubricating a hard piece of snow.

“Thawing has been a very slow business. Any mild air we have got coming will help to thaw the snow but it will not necessarily feel any warmer.”

Police and doctors spoke out to warn people to take care on icy pavements and minor roads after a number of accidents in the run-up to Christmas.

Suffolk police also issued the following advice for motorists:

Slow down.

Listen to local and national radio for travel information.

Tell someone at your destination what time you expect to arrive.

Clear your windows and mirrors before you set out and carry a screen scraper and de-icer.

Keep the lights, windows and mirrors clean and free from ice.

Keep your battery fully charged.

Add anti-freeze to the radiator and winter additive to the windscreen washer bottles.

Make sure wipers and lights are in good working order.

Check that tyres have plenty of tread depth and are maintained at the correct pressure.