THE leader of Oxfordshire County Council has accused county residents of lacking the “British spirit that defeated Hitler” in the wake of freezing weather.

Keith Mitchell said people had developed a “dependency culture” when he was challenged by a former town mayor about the “ice rink” state of roads in south Oxfordshire.

Mr Mitchell replied to Ken Arlett in an email: “I have to ask what has happened to the British spirit that defeated Hitler and yet quails at a little snow?

“If every householder and every shopkeeper took some salt and a shovel and cleared the area of pavement in front of their home or shop, we might have regained some of the spirit that has kept this island free for 1,000 years.

“But no; we have developed that dependency culture that someone up there is to blame and should be sorting out our problems for us.”

Mr Arlett, former mayor of Henley, challenged Mr Mitchell after constituents complained about ice on pavements, in car parks and roads.

He said he is taking legal advice following Mr Mitchell’s reply of Monday, December 21, which also accused him of settling “comfortably into the position normally attributed to the harlot”.

Julian Freeland, a partner at Bicester-based HMG Law, said anyone who cleared pavements of ice could be liable for a personal injury claim if somebody slipped on the treated area.

When asked to comment by the Oxford Mail, Mr Mitchell said: “I’ve just come back from New Year and I’m too busy with stuff on my desk.”

A spokesman for the county council said: “People have happily been clearing snow and ice from the front of their own homes in cold weather for many, many years. We support them.”