Cllr Laura McNamee said: “We have seen action from certain councils such as Belfast to ensure that footpaths are cleared but more must be done to help our retail and entertainment sector right across Northern Ireland. This should be the busiest week for shops throughout the country but the amount of shoppers was extremely low at the weekend.
“If the figure of £10 million of lost revenue is correct then the failure to ensure our footpaths are gritted is having a devastating impact upon our local shops. There needs to be a joined up approach between the Department for Regional Development, the Councils and all the agencies involved. We can not afford to allow the current situation of each side blaming the other to continue.
“Local people have been calling to be allowed to grit the footpaths in the area and I am glad that the Road Service has tried to fill some grit boxes. But it has not helped that the Roads Minister Connor Murphy has added further confusion by saying that it’s unlikely you will be held liable if you clear footpaths. This comment is completely unsatisfactory and if anything will put people off doing it. The laws on this issue need to be amended to allow people to clear their own footpaths with the certainty that they will not be held liable.
“However, some people are seeing this as an opportunity to make some money and are emptying grit boxes to sell it on. We have also got reports that the price for a bag of grit has doubled since the beginning of this cold spell two weeks ago. I would urge businesses to avoid hiking up prices and think of their local community when setting prices.
“Some of our elderly citizens have felt like they have been confined in their own homes because of their fear of having a fall on the ice. We must see urgent action, as this issue could drag on for weeks if not dealt with now.
“Finally, I would like to pay tribute to the efforts of the Road Service personnel especially the gritter drivers who have been battling to keep our roads open while working round the clock and often at great peril.”