Edinburgh council appeals for public help to keep city's pavements ice-free

Capital residents are being asked to pitch in and play their part to make sure the city stays safe and keeps moving when the worst winter weather starts to bite.

Tuesday, 19th November 2019, 6:00 am

Council leaders say that while they are geared up to cope with sub-zero temperatures - with 22 gritters ready to hit the streets - they cannot keep every road and pavement clear at all times.

They have drawn up plans to target high priority routes and are appealing for residents who are able to do so to help spread grit and clear pavements on side streets.

Transport and environment convener, Cllr Lesley Macinnes, said the council had robust plans in place, with 16 brand new mini tractors ready to treat pavements and more than 13,000 tonnes of salt stocked in preparation for frost, ice and snow.

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Snow being cleared from a pavement.

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To combat the threat of ice, a 75-strong road services team will be working in shifts round the clock to treat the city’s priority routes, and that there are more than 60 paid volunteers from departments across the council who are prepared to assist in any urgent action should it be required this winter.

Cllr Macinnes said: “We’re well aware of the impact that severe winter weather can have on the city and its services, as we saw when the ‘Beast from the East’ hit Edinburgh. That’s why we’re well prepared, as ever, with a fleet of lorries and gritting teams ready to tackle ice and snow during the colder months.

“What we’ve also seen during recent periods of extreme weather is the dedication shown by individuals and groups who have pitched in to help make their communities safe. We make every effort to keep the city moving over the winter, but resources need to be focussed on priority routes serving emergency services, vulnerable people and key arterial thoroughfares.

Edinburgh City Council's gritting team.

"It’s often thanks to these community members’ hard work that ice and snow is cleared from smaller streets, and I hope we will see people continue to make use of local grit bins and look out for their neighbours this winter.”

Budget problems 'no excuse'

Last month the council was criticised for asking residents to help clear their pathways and roads of leaves as autumn fell.

City Centre Conservative councillor Joanne Mowat warned that local authority budget problems “cannot be an excuse” for cutting vital services.

She said said: “It is always difficult getting winter weather preparations right but we would hope that the right balance between council provision and residents pitching in to help out can be found. Budget constraints cannot be an excuse for providing a reduced service which is essential to keep the city moving and residents safe.”

Rodney Kumar, spokesman for IAM RoadSmart, said: “The key to travelling safely in winter is to allow extra time regardless of your method of travel. Chances are the roads and pavements will be slippery, and possibly covered in ice you cannot see at this time of year.

“It is also important to keep your speed down – most people cannot react quickly enough if they are driving too fast for the road conditions and this is still the case in residential areas. It is important to check the weather forecast before the house and to ensure that the route you are taking has been properly gritted. These may seem like obvious things, but it’s surprising how many people don’t do it, and find themselves in a tricky or even tragic situation."