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Snow Warden Scheme


What is the Snow Warden Scheme?

In winter, we focus on salting the major routes which carry the most traffic. This sometimes means smaller communities don’t receive as much help as they would like. During times of extreme weather, through the Snow Warden Scheme we will provide advice, training and salt to community groups and parish councils who are helping each other on a voluntary basis. The Snow Warden is the key point of contact between Devon County Council (DCC) and the local community and is primarily a co-ordination role.

What does a Snow Warden do?

The Snow Warden is working on behalf of the parish council, not DCC, and will deliver winter maintenance support, determined by parish or town councils, to their communities. This includes:

  • Ordering grit supplies
  • Keeping a register of local trained volunteers
  • Receiving and responding locally to weather alerts
  • Organising and deploying volunteers to clear snow
  • Organising and deploying volunteers to spread grit when icy conditions are forecast
  • Encourage responsible use of grit/salt and help to minimise the abuse of grit/salt within communities

The Snow Warden must:

  • be nominated as suitable by the town or parish council or similar body
  • have received suitable training by DCC to carry out minor works
  • agree to work within the advice provided by the county council
  • agree to work to the parish council’s plan that has been agreed with DCC
  • be registered with DCC

What type of work can be done by the Snow Warden’s volunteer?

How to get involved

Town and parish councils: If you’re interested in joining the scheme and working with Devon County Council to more effectively manage your local area call 0345 155 1004 or email

Individual volunteers and community groups: Contact your parish or town council and offer your assistance. To get the right contact details for your area please use the postcode checker below. Alternatively contact Devon County Council on 0345 155 1004 or email


What is the difference between a Snow Warden and a Snow Warden’s volunteer?

The Snow Warden is the community coordinator during periods of extreme weather and will receive training directly from DCC. They are then responsible for training and managing local Snow Warden Volunteers as well as local salt/grit supplies and storage.

Snow Warden volunteers will be trained by, and carry out any necessary works under the direction of, the Snow Warden.

What training needs to be undertaken?

Snow Wardens are given safety training by Devon County Council. Snow Wardens will be provided with a fluorescent jacket to ensure visibility when working.

Training will:

  • outline DCC’s winter maintenance role
  • discuss the benefits of a voluntary self help scheme
  • consider the legal implications
  • consider a model for setting up a voluntary self help scheme
  • consider how voluntary work should be carried out in a safe and responsible manner
  • consider the purchase, storage and use of salt supplies and winter maintenance equipment
  • empower the designated Snow Warden to be able to set up a voluntary self help scheme and to recruit, register and deliver training to community volunteers
  • consider when a self help scheme should be implemented

Snow Wardens and volunteers carry out snow clearance at their own risk, but as long as snow clearance is carried out responsibly and within the guidelines of the scheme, a third party public liability claim would be covered by the County Council’s public liability insurance.

What are the responsibilities of the town or parish council once signed up to the scheme?

We would like to encourage parish and town councils to agree to:

  • Identify an individual to act as the parish/town contact point for these matters who will be accountable to the local community through the parish/town council.
  • Determine what the local priorities are in severe weather and how they will be delivered locally, and be accountable to the local community for them. Priorities should be confirmed with County Council Neighbourhood teams prior to winter.
  • Take responsibility for delivering local self help and where possible refilling the grit bins and salt bags within their parish in a way which fits in with the local priorities for example to arrange for local grit bins to be refilled using local resources.
  • Demonstrate that suitable arrangements are in place to store and manage the salt responsibly, and be accountable to the local community for the way in which salt is managed.
  • To use the salt during severe weather on the public highway only (including footways and footpaths), but not areas treated by the county council as part of the defined salting network.
  • Encourage responsible local use of the grit bin facility and help to minimise abuse, such as people taking salt for use on private driveways.
Does DCC provide public liability insurance?

In the unlikely event of a claim, DCC will cover the public liability aspect of insurance for voluntary work on the public highway or footway, providing it is undertaken in a safe manner according to DCC advice. This, for example, would cover any claims by a third party as a result of the snow clearance and the county council would defend.

DCC will not provide any other form of insurance cover for this activity which must be undertaken at the volunteers own risk. So, for example, any damage to one’s own person, property or vehicle would not be covered. If vehicles are to be used (for example farmers) then they must ensure that the vehicle is suitably insured for any activity undertaken – if in doubt, owners should check with the vehicle’s insurer.

If a local council decide to employ a contractor to undertake any winter operation for them then the County Council’s public liability insurance will not apply – it only applies to volunteers under this scheme.

What are the salt supplies and storage arrangements?

DCC is pledging to provide up to five tonnes of salt free of charge to parishes that sign up to the scheme. Those who register are asked to identify an individual to act as a point of contact during winter and demonstrate that they have arrangements in place to store and manage salt. Parish and town councils must have suitable, dry storage areas for the salt, protected from watercourses.

We have arrangements in place whereby further salt can be purchased through our own contract supply arrangements in the region of £100 per tonne dumpy bag (smaller bags may be an option at a higher price) where parish and town councils wish to purchase more themselves (for example if they purchase their own tow-along gritter). However because of the amount of salt used by tow-along gritters, users must ensure that they have considered the cost and storage requirements of the salt required.

Parish and town councils which register their interest with DCC’s local highway neighbourhood teams by the end of August can expect to receive a salt delivery in September or October. For parishes that may apply later, the County Council will endeavour to provide salt before the winter.

Parish and town councils need to speak to their Neighbourhood Highway Officer (NHO) to discuss salt deliveries and storage arrangements. Parish and town councils signed up to the scheme will have direct contact details for the NHO, however the Customer Service Centre on 0345 155 1004 can provide this information.


Devon County Council will provide:

  • A comprehensive winter service as defined in the Winter Service and Emergencies plan.
  • Refill county grit bins when we are made aware that they are empty.
  • Provide up to five tonnes of salt free of charge (usually in one tonne ‘dumpy bags’) to be supplied in one delivery to one parish location prior to winter and a small supply of salt bags. Quantity of salt to towns will be negotiated separately and will depend on the services that they wish to deliver, for example clearing High Streets.
  • Offer up to a further five tonnes of salt at the same time if required at £100 a tonne.
  • Provide a mechanism whereby further salt can be purchased.
  • Train Snow Wardens as part of the scheme, and provide advice and guidance as required.
  • Provide Public Liability Insurance (but not other forms of insurance cover) as identified within the scheme.

Volunteering details

When: Weekday am, weekday pm, weekends
Transport provided: No
Public transport nearby: Dependent on location of work
Disabled access: No
Training provided: Yes
Group activity: Optional
One-off opportunity: Optional
Out-of-pocket expenses paid: No

Funding and resources

DCC Winter Service Plan

Case studies

More than 250 towns and parishes in the county have snow wardens in place in case Devon is hit by prolonged severe weather. Read more >

Snow Warden

To find out more about being a Snow Warden watch this short film about Peter Smerdon, Rattery's snow warden Read more >

Parishes signed up to the Snow Warden Scheme are free to decide how they use their free salt in their area Read more >