Road clearing to be reviewed

Aberdeenshire Council is reviewing its snow clearing policies following the cold snap earlier this month. The local authority has said that this is the first year its strategy has really been tested.
Aberdeenshire Council is reviewing its snow clearing policies following the cold snap earlier this month. The local authority has said that this is the first year its strategy has really been tested.

SNP councillors have called for a review of snow clearing operations to find if there are lessons for Aberdeenshire Council to learn from this month’s cold snap.

The members have said that prolonged low temperatures have meant that despite there being relatively little snow fall in recent days, snow and ice has not shifted despite treatment leading to a number of complaints from residents about underfoot conditions.

The council has said, however, that a review of road clearing policies is already under way.

Councillor Richard Thomson, opposition leader, who asked for the review, acknowledged the efforts of road staff this winter so far.

He said: “The council workers involved in gritting and snow clearing operations do so in often appalling conditions and deserve our thanks for what they do. It’s clear that staff have been putting an enormous amount of effort into keeping Aberdeenshire residents safe in line with the policies which have been approved by councillors - something which we recognise and commend. During this most recent cold snap, most of our major routes were kept open and that in itself is a major achievement.

“The prolonged low temperatures have brought their own issues however, and where we would normally have expected the snow and ice to have cleared by now, a lot of residential streets are still affected because council staff are having to still have regard for keeping the major routes safe. That reduces the amount of time available for tackling other roads which, while less of a priority in terms of keeping goods and services flowing, are nonetheless still important to local residents.”

Councillor Peter Argyle, Infrastructure Services Committee chairman, said he is aware of concerns which have been raised across Aberdeenshire and he has asked officers for a policy review.

He continued: “The policies for clearing roads and footways were introduced under the previous administration, since when we have had two virtually snowless winters. This is therefore the first real test these policies have had. It’s right that we look carefully at how everything has gone; this review has already been arranged and is under way. I will be discussing these issues with the director but would also wish to thank all of our crews for the work they have done in very difficult conditions.”