Bathgate businessman mounts his tractor to rescue those stranded in snow

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LOCAL hero spent 17 hours in his tractor clearing roads and answering the calls of people stranded in the snow following the blast of arctic weather in Scotland on Monday.

Entrepreneur, Wayne Gardner-young, 43, was “inundated” with pleas for help from people looking to have their vehicle pulled free by him and his team in the West Lothian area on Monday.

Mr Gardner-young runs a large number of companies in West Lothian and on Monday he decided to step-up to the challenge that the huge volumes of snow presented to help his staff and locals.

One of the businesses that Mr Gardner-young manages is the Kaim Park Hotel in Bathgate, situated just two miles from the M8 which was gridlocked on Monday night.

After taking his children to school in the morning, the businessman realised that the continuing heavy snowfall would cause problems in the area.

Mr Gardener-young said: “I went home and got the tractor, you don’t get stuck in a tractor.”

“It was such a busy day.  I took staff home from the hotel and brought more in to man the place, we had very few bookings early on Monday so I was preparing to stand-down staff.”

“As there was little work at the hotel, I offered to pay staff out of my own pocket to help me out on the roads.”

Mr Gardner-young was joined by seven male employees who manned a Land Rover and two tractors, one with a snow plough attached to the front.  They worked for most of the day clearing roads and freeing vehicles from the snow.

He said: “I went to the hotel to take staff home and it took me one and a half hours to do just two to three miles.

“I saw that there was a lorry blocking one of the roads so I decided to free it.  The police came up to me and asked me what I was doing I said that I was going to drag the lorry out of the way so that traffic could start moving again.

“So we dragged this arctic lorry out through the centre of Bathgate.  When people saw what we were doing we were called on to help others.  We spent the day dragging vehicles out and clearing snow.”

As the weather worsened many travellers realised that they were not going to reach their destination and their best bet was to get off the road and into accommodation.

Mr Gardner-young said: “At about five o’clock we still only had a few rooms occupied but within 10 minutes we were full, all 600 rooms.

“This meant that I had to go out and collect more staff.  At one point we only had one chef to cook 150 meals.”

Mr Gardner-young and his team took a break between four and five before heading out again and working until 10pm.

He said: “When I got home my wife said that she’d been on facebook and discovered there were hundreds of people stranded on the M8 so I collected all the blankets we had in the house and headed back out.

“I told the hotel staff to prepare for more people arriving.  We were offering anybody who needed it a free place to stay and laid on teas, coffees and soup.

“As it happened, not that many people came because they couldn’t get off the M8.”

Mr Gardner-young has said that if the dangerous driving conditions continue he would be able to accommodate 200 to 300 more people at the hotel who could stay in the function suite, the restaurant and lounge.

He said: “We’ll crank up the heating and provide hot drinks to those who are stranded.”

The entrepreneur was inspired to help out of “community spirit”.  He said:  “We just decided to do it out of community spirit, the best of British and all that.”

Mr Gardener-young described the response of the authorities to the situation on the roads as “an absolute shambles”.

He said: “They were working that hard to clear the roads over the weekend that I think all the guys were worked out for Monday.

“There were practically no gritters out on the roads.  The Kaim Park Hotel is next to the salt store for West Lothian and throughout the whole day I saw two or three gritters which I find quite shocking.”

News of the heroics of Wayne and his team come after an announcement from Transport Scotland issued on behalf of Strathclyde Police, Central Scotland Police, Lothian and Borders Police and Transport Scotland.

A spokesperson said: “Due to the extremely cold temperatures experienced across the central belt overnight, the gritting operation that has been carried out will not have had a significant impact on the ice that has built up on roads across the region. People are therefore advised not to travel this morning unless it is absolutely essential.”

The situation on the roads will be constantly monitored and updates issued.

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