Winter Activism Gallery

Each time it snows we see the same things – a blanket of snow on every road and “the Council” doing nothing about the roads that matter to us. Instead of looking to the council, what if we cleared the roads and pavements that matter to us? If they matter, surely it’s worth it? And if they matter enough for the community to pay taxes to the council, then surely it matters enough for some members of the community to come and help you.

The same snow never needs to be cleared twice, so each time someone clears some, everyone gets the benefit of that clear road. It’s a “positive externality”, a benefit to people outside of just your household. The libertarian analysis is that people will fix the problems that matter to them and so the problems that really effect everyone will be fixed, by them.

Also, we believe that this will naturally work better than “the council” (or state solutions in any field) because of fundamental issues. Only we know what we want, and it varies immensely between people and day by day, and this is especially true of the weather. The knowledge of what we want starts in the heads of thousands and is supposed to make more sense in the heads of a different group of just a few hundred people, despite all the Chinese whispers and bureaucratic obstacles in the middle. That cannot be true. Instead, we believe individuals and specialised local groups will always do a better job.

These photos put the theory into practice, and show that we can and will get up and sort things out ourselves, even though many people are put off helping by two factors:

  • The council is in the way – it claims a large proportion of our income to do this job and does it badly, It will always do it badly for fundamental reasons, and we need to work longer and harder to make up for the tax taken. It should stop trying to do this, give us our money back, and let us do it. Society will evolve new methods of doing thing’s at the same scale.
  • Unpredictable laws – every year we hear the same urban myths about how people could get sued if they don’t do a perfect job of clearing the road or pavement. This puts people off. We need a simple law that says if your do something to reduce the risk, then good on you, and you can’t get sued for leaving some level of risk behind. So if the risk before was 80% and now its 51%, you are in the clear even if it is still more likely than not that someone will fall over.


  1. Well done, Simon!

    I did my tiny bit at 12pm (I only had 20min): cleaned some 30sqm pavement near my house and that is the only snow-less area I’ve seen today, even better the sun dried this area off.
    On my way home from Edmonton I saw council workers in hi-visibility jackets shovelling snow – but they did it at 6pm, there is not much sun light in London after 6pm to dry it off.
    Couple of lessons: start cleaning snow when it stops snowing, buy grit (unfortunately I didn’t) and better clean the snow before noon.
    P.S.: I thought how old-fashioned (19th century) I was with my shovel, but even council workers do it only with a shovel, I believe for 7gbp/hour minimum? Why don’t they use snow removal machine, like this one:



  2. I was out doing my footpaths before 0900 so as to get at it before everyone started walking over it. The results of my shovelling can be seen on my blog.

    No doubt a council wallah would have complained about my lack of a high-viz vest and my lack of training in how to use a shovel but screw ’em.



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