A council has defended its decision to grit the area surrounding its offices, after being accused of ‘looking after number one.’

Justin Keen, 40, was shopping in Epping High Street yesterday when he noticed workmen clearing the car park at the council offices there.

He said: “Considering the entire High Street’s pavements haven’t seen a grain of salt since the first snow showers last week, we both thought it typical of the council to be looking after their own interests.

“It’s clear the council has given instructions to clear their car park despite the fact that most of the council workers due in by car will no doubt call in to announce they are staying at home due to the weather.”

But a district council spokeswoman said: “It is not Epping Forest District Council’s responsibility to grit the pavements.

“If staff can’t get in, they can’t help the public, which is why we do it, although we were all asked not to come in too early.”

She added that the same team that cleared the car park on Sunday was gritting all the council’s public car parks across the district, to keep them safe.

Essex County Council, which is responsible for gritting roads, announced today that its lorries treated main routes five times on Sunday and would be back out this afternoon.