Edinburgh weather: Pavements become ‘ice rinks’

A man struggles to walk due to ice on the pavement in Napier Road, Merchiston. Picture: Greg Macvean
A man struggles to walk due to ice on the pavement in Napier Road, Merchiston. Picture: Greg Macvean
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PAVEMENTS across the city have been allowed to “turn into ice rinks” despite forecasters warning an icy blast was set to wreak havoc in the Capital, residents claim.

Treacherous conditions saw a spike in A&E admissions, with patients being patched up for broken arms, hips, collar bones and other injuries after taking a tumble on slippery surfaces.

NHS Lothian was unable to provide exact figures for the numbers of casualties admited to accident and emergency departments and walk-in ­centres but a source said they had been “busy”.

“We are having to deal with more injuries relating to the ice this week which I think it will come as no big surprise,” he said. “Staff are having to deal with more fractures and plan more return attendances to have fractures manipulated as a result of the increase in admissions.”

Almost 600 residents contacted the News on social media to condemn the “lack of planning” as temperatures plunged, freezing sodden roads and paths.

Crime writer Ian Rankin was among those complaining about the untreated pavements saying the area around his Merchiston home was like a “skating rink”. He said: “Try crossing at the Napier Road roundabout. And see the skating pond which was once a puddle!”

Eleanor Darroch, of Comiston, said conditions had been perilous when she left to go to work at the National Galleries. “It wasn’t just a bit of black ice, the whole area was horrendous – I fell this morning, other people were falling,” she said.

“At the West End there was a whole sheet of black ice from Palmerston Place, all the way down to the National Galleries and they don’t seem to do anything about it. I phoned the council because I fell, I could have my broken my hip or anything and I pay my taxes.”

But Councillor Lesley Hinds, transport and environment leader, insisted the Capital’s full gritting team has been working “around the clock” over the past three days to keep the city moving, with bus ­services unaffected.

She said seven mini-tractors had been salting busy pavements, pedestrian routes to hospitals, clinics, care homes and schools. Higher ground – such as Balerno and Currie – was also being treated first.

All 22 gritter lorries treated priority one routes – the main arterial roads, routes to schools, hospitals, care homes, ambulance depots – throughout the day yesterday, along with seven mini-tractors salting priority one footways. The repeated showers meant these routes and paths needed to be treated a number of times.

She said the team moved on to residential streets and paths during the night and returned to main routes at 5am ready for rush hour. With low temperatures set to continue, the council has warned people not go on frozen reservoirs or waterways.

In Midlothian, residents have been urged to use the 450 grit bins in the county to clear pavements outside homes and help vulnerable neighbours.

Councillor Derek Rosie, cabinet member for commercial operations, said: “The council has never been in a position to keep every residential street clear of snow and ice and has always worked in partnership with the community. However, in recent years, we have noticed there is a growing expectation on our staff to get down every road and pavement. This is simply unrealistic.”

Forecast: Better days expected

CLAIRE Austin, a forecaster for MeteoGroup, said the weather will grow colder today.

However, she added that much of the frost is expected to thaw tomorrow.

She said: “Saturday is looking mainly dry with sunny spells with highs of 3C in the daytime.

“There’s one or two wintry showers to the west but nothing major.

“The minimum temperatures overnight will be about 0C then it will rise to about 8C on Sunday.

“It will probably be a slightly improving picture throughout Sunday.”