With winter upon us, many householders have already taken steps to counter the worst that the seasonal weather might throw at the north-east. Perhaps they’ve installed new loft insulation, checked the guttering, fitted snow tyres to the car or topped up the anti-freeze. Aberdeenshire Council has followed the same principle, planning and preparing to ensure there’s minimal disruption to its services when the temperature plummets and the snow accumulates.
From school closure information to road gritting schedules and waste collection contingencies, carefully crafted plans are in place for when winter bites.
The experiences of recent years, when the severe and sustained wintry conditions had a major impact on everyday life across Scotland, have added extra impetus to Aberdeenshire Council’s arrangements for this winter.
“We have looked at how our services managed last year, during the worst conditions we have seen for many years, and used what we learned to help us prepare for this year’s winter maintenance programme,” says Council Leader Cllr Anne Robertson.
“We take every possible step to avoid our routine services being compromised by the weather, but it is inevitable that there will sometimes be some degree of disruption in a cold snap. When that happens, we prioritise our activities according to the greatest areas of need and direct our resources accordingly.
“In those circumstances, it’s important to stay informed: I’d urge people to check our website www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk, or use other local sources of information, on a regular basis.
“The council’s detailed planning for winter covers several key areas of operation.
For road users, a comprehensive programme is in place to minimise disruption when the temperatures drop to zero or the snow falls.
“Planned road treatments are central to the council’s efforts to keep traffic moving and specialist weather forecasts are closely monitored throughout the winter to aid the planning of our response.
“Around 1,660km of Aberdeenshire’s roads are earmarked for priority treatment by a fleet of 32 vehicles fitted with gritters, ploughs or snow blowers, but when the snow falls we can have over 150 pieces of plant out on our roads and footways.
“We have entered the winter with more than double the salt stocks we had last year, and more will be delivered as the season progresses.
“In excess of 300 staff can be involved at the height of a snow-clearing operation, their efforts supported by a network of up to 120 farmers and contractors using tractors and ploughs to clear routes in more rural areas.
“Even with all these resources we cannot be everywhere at once. There are over 1,000 grit bins placed across Aberdeenshire, and we would ask residents to help us where they can by using these facilities, and letting us know when they are empty.”
More details on the authority’s winter roads maintenance programme can be found at www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/roads/winter.asp
For school pupils and parents/carers, a tried-and-tested communication process – featuring several possible means of notification – is in place to inform people quickly when schools are closed and/or transport arrangements are changed.
Information can be sourced directly from www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/closures via email or Twitter, @Aberdeenshire
For householders, every effort is made to catch up on missed refuse collections as soon as the weather improves. Detailed guidance on what to do can be found at www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/waste/Collection_services/Missed_Collections.asp
“A great deal of resources, expertise and experience is invested in our ‘winter weather’ programme to ensure we’re as ready as we can be to cope with extreme weather conditions,” adds Cllr Robertson.
“I’m confident the combination of our hard-working and committed staff and our rigorous preparations will stand us in good stead.”