Edinburgh Council orders review of road gritting

Edinburgh Council's preparation for winter -'Fraser Stewart, a depot roadman, shovelling road salt
Edinburgh Council's preparation for winter -'Fraser Stewart, a depot roadman, shovelling road salt
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A REVIEW of gritting arrangements across the Capital has been ordered following complaints that roads and pavements in many suburban areas were not treated at all during recent snow and ice.

The current priority system for deciding which roads should be gritted will be re-examined after councillors agreed that “shortcomings” were exposed during the recent spell of cold weather.

The move comes as forecasters warn Scots to expect more bad weather, with temperatures expected to plunge as low as -10C at the weekend.

Tory transport spokesman Nick Cook said: “We have been relatively lucky in Edinburgh over the past five or six years in that we haven’t really had particularly challenging winters. But I do think the cold snap this year has exposed some shortcomings and the need for change in the way we go about gritting our roads and pavements.”

He praised the work of council staff in keeping main routes clear and ensuring the city kept moving.

But he said that outside the “priority one” roads – which include main roads, all bus routes and roads to hospitals, schools and care homes – not enough gritting was done and many areas were “left untouched”.

And he called for a report reviewing the “continued suitability and responsiveness of the current priority system”. He suggested thermal imaging could be used to respond to the specific needs of different parts of the city and that the council’s “routesmart” technology could be used to improve response times.

Labour backbencher Scott Arthur cited the case of Michael Wilczynski, 71, who suffered multiple leg injuries after slipping on ice as he left his home in Carrick Knowe in December and had to wait three hours for an ambulance to come.

“He was one of 21 people that day who slipped and had to be collected by ambulance and taken to hospital. So there is a real human impact to this service if it doesn’t go well.

“And some of those 21 people may well have gone on to put extra pressure on our social care, which we know it doesn’t need.”

Lib Dem Kevin Lang said areas outwith the city centre were even more dependent on efficient and effective gritting because conditions could become more treacherous much more quickly. But he said the council’s online winter road maintenance map was seriously inaccurate, with grit bins missing and a raft of priority roads and pavements not shown as such.

“If the council is going to go to the trouble of producing an online map so people know what will and will not be done over the winter period, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that information is up-to-date and accurate.”

Yesterday’s meeting of the full council agreed unanimously that the current priority system for deciding which roads should be gritted needed to be looked at again. Transport convener Lesley Macinnes said: “There is a degree of consensus across the chamber on the importance of the gritting matter. We know how much our Edinburgh residents rely upon our ability as a council to deliver for them in this area.”

She said a review of the winter weather operations was already planned and paid tribute to the “exemplary” work of the winter team.