PENSIONERS fear leaving their homes due to a lack of gritted pavements after it was revealed more than 220 OAPs suffered a fall during a three month period last winter.

But now West Dunbartonshire Council has vowed footways across Dumbarton and the Vale will be gritted by 8am during cold and icy weather until March.

A council meeting heard between December 2018 and February 2019, there were 227 falls by over-65s, resulting in 51 hospital admissions locally across West Dunbartonshire.

Eva McKellar, from Age Concern Vale of Leven, told the Reporter: “I think this is the biggest bug-bear for the elderly. It leaves them struggling to access the shopping centre.

“A lot of work needs to be done to make the pavements safer for elderly and disabled people, and even young mums.”

READ MORE: Children name West Dunbartonshire's gritter lorries

Brian Sloan, chief executive for Age Scotland UK, urged people to check in on elderly neighbours. He added: “Winter can also be a lonely time for older people if the weather means they are stuck at home, so we’d also urge people to keep an eye on their older family members, friends and neighbours.

“Bringing in some shopping for them, collecting prescriptions or just stopping by to check they’re ok, and being prepared to have a friendly chat, can be of great help and support to older people at this time of year.”

A standby rota has been in place since the beginning of the month to undertake footway treatment on 40 paths as and when the weather requires.

Priority treatment has been given to shopping areas, school and hospital routes, clinics, identified public buildings, major sheltered housing units, public transport hubs, busy links between shopping centres and pedestrian routes in major housing developments.

Footpaths near day centres for older people or those with special needs as well as steps and ramps to underpasses and footbridges will also benefit from gritting between 8am until 3.30pm Monday to Friday.

The remainder of the public footway network will only be treated in exceptional weather conditions.

Concerns were raised at November’s full council meeting about the number of elderly people falling in poor weather conditions and members agreed that action needed to be taken.

Between December 2018 and February 2019 there were 227 falls by over-65s resulting in 51 hospital admissions across West Dunbartonshire.

The update was brought before councillors at last week’s full council meeting.

Labour councillor John Mooney said the move : “I very much welcome this report which is as a result of a motion that was brought before us in November.

“It looks at the way we grit our roads and it should help prevent falls, especially with the elderly”.”

Jonathan McColl, council leader, added: “We have a significant problem with icing and people are already making their way to work at 8am.

“It would be really great if footways could be gritted before that time so that ice is not there when people are walking at that time.”

Concerns were raised by Councillor Jim Bollan, of the Community Party, that some areas wouldn’t benefit from the scheme.

He said: “This is a step in the right direction, but it is only part of the journey. We need a future review to make sure we deal with all areas identified. I would like to see a review in 2021/22 on how we can build on this.”

West Dunbartonshire council has a three-year winter maintenance plan which ensures reasonable steps are taken to prevent snow and ice endangering the safe passage of vehicles and pedestrians.

The plan will continue to be reviewed annually.