UK 'is well prepared for the snow'

29 Nov 10
The public sector across the UK is ready for this week's severe weather, central and local government leaders have stressed

By Vivienne Russell

29 November 2010

The public sector across the UK is ready for this week’s severe weather, central and local government leaders have stressed.

In Scotland, which has been particularly affected by freezing temperatures and snowfall, stocks of grit and salt are good and the country is ready to face the winter, ministers said today. On Saturday night, Scotland recorded a minimum temperature of –15.3°C at Loch Glascarnoch in the Highlands.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said all steps were being taken to shore up the nation’s resilience. There were 360,000 tonnes of salt and grit in depots in every local authority area, enough to keep Scotland supplied for two months of heavy usage, and a further 100,000 tonnes on order, he said.

 ‘The Scottish Government’s resilience operation is closely monitoring developments in partnership with out colleagues in local authorities, the Met Office, Transport Scotland, and health, and developing preparedness and actions,’ MacAskill said.

Wales experienced the coldest November night since records began. Temperatures fell to –18.0 °C at Llysdinam, near Llandrindod Wells, Powys. In England, a minimum temperature of –13.5°C was recorded at Topcliffe in Yorkshire.

The Local Government Association has stressed that English councils were making ‘unprecedented’ efforts to prepare for the bad weather following last year’s cold winter. Its survey of councils has revealed that almost half (48%) bought new gritting machinery in the past year and a total of 1.2 million tonnes of salt have been ordered, 33% more than last year.

Peter Box, chair of the LGA’s economy and transport board, said: ‘Councils are leaving nothing to chance… Gritters will be on call to operate around the clock, seven days a week on treacherous roads in freezing conditions to ensure that schools remain open, businesses keep running and emergency services can continue saving lives.

‘There will be no room for complacency in the weeks ahead. The fact that many councils are still waiting for salt to be delivered at this late stage is undoubtedly going to make a challenging time of year even more difficult. While this is not ideal, councils have responded by setting up arrangements with neighbouring areas to share supplies.’

The Met Office today said the cold spell was going to continue over the next few days. Chief forecaster Steve Willington said: ‘The very low overnight temperatures we have seen are likely to be repeated through the coming week as the cold and snowy weather continues.’

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