AS uneven and loose paving slabs on Banbridge town centre footpaths were repaired last week a local Roads Service worker has hit out at the council for using a mechanical sweeper which, he said, could be causing damage to the footpaths.
Complaints have been flooding in in recent weeks as people contacted both local politicians and the Leader to highlight what they saw as the dangers posed by the paving stones which are known to have tripped up a few members of the public.
Local Roads Service worker Colin Copeland suggested the paving stones had to be routinely repaired because the council’s precinct sweeper is too heavy and dismantles the slabs over time.
As Mr Copeland and a colleague repaired the paving slabs in Newry Street - each of which takes around 20 minutes to do - he told the Leader the surface is not as damage-resistant as it could be.
“In my opinion these paving slabs were not meant for a five or six-ton road sweeper to drive over them,” said Mr Copeland, who has worked for Roads Service for around seven years. Pavements are inspected several times a year and Colin said he has fixed paving slabs in the same areas up to four times a year.
“It takes about 15 or 20 minutes to repair a slab and we do about 20 in a day so it’s very time-consuming and I don’t know how much it costs. Ideally the pavements would be covered in ashfelt to make them able to withstand the damage of sweepers and trucks driving over them.”
A spokeswoman for Roads Service was unable to confirm how much it costs to repair each paving stone but said inspections take place frequently. “The town centre footways are inspected regularly throughout the year and any defects identified are recorded and prioritised for repair,” she said.
Mr Copeland suggested the council could use an alternative method to keep the streets clean. “In my opinion there should be a member of the council with a simple leaf blower that could blow the litter on to the road for the sweeper to lift. ”
But David Lindsay, Director of Environmental Services at Banbridge District Council, said the sweeper used is a specialised lightweight machine and is required to maintain a certain level of cleanliness in the town.
“Essentially, we deploy a light duty precinct sweeper which is designed for the express purpose of sweeping pedestrian footpaths etc. and as such its use is not considered detrimental to street paving stones,” he said.
“Council has a statutory duty in respect of street cleansing and although manual litter picking and use of leaf blowers will maintain a certain level of cleanliness, the surface of footpaths do become grimy and dirty to an extent that only the use of the mechanical sweeper will suffice to achieve the high standard of cleanliness that the council and indeed community would expect.”