First of all, some good news: the Met Office is predicting a dry, bright few days to come here in Edinburgh, so that should be the last of snow – for the time-being at least. Unfortunately, of course, the clear skies will bring ever lower temperatures, which is far from ideal for thawing.
It’s inevitable then that it’s going to take some time to clear residential streets, so please do continue to bear with us during this difficult period. Our number one priority is to keep the main ‘category one’ routes open, making sure ambulance drivers and other emergency vehicles have the access they need.
Since the snow first fell last Friday night, we have used an average of 600 tonnes of salt a day – a total of over 3000 tonnes. We still have over 4000 tonnes in stock and more on order. With the snow easing off we have at last been able to make headway into some of the ‘category two’ roads.
I’m also pleased to report that our taskforce has received a welcome boost to their numbers thanks to street cleaners, gardeners, refuse collection staff and other council contractors who have all been drafted in to help clear snow from some of the worst hit neighbourhoods.
You too can play an important part by helping clear drives, pathways and pavements and keeping a look-out for elderly neighbours. Local businesses can also do, and are doing, their bit by helping to keep doorways clear from snow.
Concerns were raised last year that if someone was to slip after snow had been cleared by a ‘good Samaritan’, the person doing the clearing could be liable for damages. I want to make it clear that this is not the case, and would encourage everyone who is willing and able to keep up the good work!
As with all workers across the city, council staff have faced a tremendous challenge in getting to work and I have been encouraged by the many stories I have heard of their doggedness in braving the atrocious weather to ensure, as far as possible, that vital services are maintained to keep this city safe and on the move.
Of course, the vital services that the council provide go beyond keeping the roads clear. Our teachers and other staff have made an extra effort to ensure that as many Edinburgh schools are open as possible, and our social workers are checking on people who are vulnerable.
It’s important that we all try and offer a helping hand or even just a friendly face to others who may be in need. Checking to see if an elderly neighbour upstairs could do a pint of milk or a loaf of bread only takes a minute. If you are concerned about someone who may need extra help, you can contact our social care direct team on 0131 200 2324 or, out-of-hours, on 0800 731 6969.
I can assure you that our staff are working 24 hours a day in all conditions to keep the city moving. In the meantime, thank you for your patience as we work through the impact of the worst snow falls in half a century. With any luck, we will soon all be in a position to start enjoying the festive period!
Robert Aldridge is Environment convener at City of Edinburgh Council