“Chinese Army” couldn’t grit Edinburgh

Central areas like the mound are being gritted, but will they go far enough?

A local Councillor has described Edinburgh’s attempt to keep the city’s streets safe during the winter season as “impossible for the Council to do, even if they got the Chinese army.”

The comments come as local residents raise concerns about the availability and distribution of grit as predictions of a harsh winter loom. Last year grit bins ran out of salt and members of the public were forced to buy their own or stay in their houses.

Councillor Norman Work, vice-convenor of Health and Social Care, has taken a controversial stance on the issue of whose responsibility it is for gritting Edinburgh’s roads.

Last year, he angered many Edinburgh residents when he said: “A lot of people think the Council should clear the pavements, but I think residents and shopkeepers should do it – unless you’re 90 years old. This is no time for laziness: why not clear your own pavement?

“I remember when people used to clear the pavements outside their own property.”

This year, he is again urging individuals to be more proactive. “People think the council’s going to come and dig their car out of their driveway.”

“If you’re able, get a shovel and help.”

The Council are setting up a scheme for members of the public to register as volunteers to help with the gritting.

Councillor Work said he would pitch in: “I’ve got a pair of wellies – I’ll get out and help.”

Yet he did promise that “there is more money” going towards gritting this year, with the Council having bought more bins and holding open discussions with local residents to improve on last year’s problems.

Suggested strategies include adapting vehicles to have shovels, and dumping builders’ bags of grit onto pavements to supplement the shortage of bins.

However,  Work pointed out bureaucratic issues in the system. “Health and safety is preventing the workers who bring the grit to replenish the bins. They bring it, then they can’t walk on the pavement.”

Grit poachers also undermine the Council’s efforts. “Sometimes the Council fill [the bins] and people come and steal it to sell on privately,”  Work added.

Distribution and restocking of bins are becoming an increasingly worrying issues for community members.

Gorgie and Dalry was identified as an area with a worryingly small number of salt or grit bins which are allocated unevenly. On Ardmillan Terrace there are two bins, but between there and Haymarket – a distance of two miles – there are no bins, while there are none at all north of Dalry Road.

Rona Brown, Secretary of the Community Council, said: “We shouldn’t have to wait for an accident to happen”.

Local resident Angela Astor expressed concern that they would run out, saying: “There definitely isn’t enough grit in the bins right now to last the winter.” She also claimed people have been urinating on the material making it impossible or difficult to use.

Chair of the local community council Maria Kelly said: “There is concern that the council is trying to dump salt responsibility on the neighbourhood community council.” She requested more salt bins last month, but has not received an acknowledgement from the Council.

The Council website has a map of bin distribution available here. They also invite requests for relocating bins.

GRRRR-IT! Anger as grit only now hits the streets

By Rahsian Parris

Photo courtesy of Markgorman

After several weeks of extreme weather conditions and heavy snowfall, the city of Edinburgh is slowly beginning its recovery from the the worst winter in decades. Temperatures as low as -18C had been recorded in Kinbrace, Sutherland, however, also on Saturday, the buzzing Capital of Scotland and its neighbour, Glasgow, saw temperatures rise to a slightly warmer 4C and 0C respectively. These warmer temperatures should come as great news to the hundreds of people left in the deep freeze without working boilers; however, the snow is gradually starting to melt and yet another crisis is pending, sending shock-waves through the city. With slippery roads and slush ridden pavements the city is desperately in need of grit and though the city center and areas surrounding it seem mildly affected, higher up in the hills residents are suffering.

Ms King of South West Edinburgh area, Colinton, expressed her dismay at the current state of the residential area due to excessive snowfall and the slow progress of gritting in her area saying “throughout the whole of the Christmas period I’ve pretty much been stuck in my house, unable to move my car and in fear of even walking down the street to the supermarket because the streets are so snowy and icy and there hadn’t been any grit laid down. I came out this morning and was pleasantly surprised to see that the roads had been somewhat cleared and that grit had finally been put down, but it’s taken far too long; it’s been what? Three weeks now? It’s ridiculous”.

An unhappy elderly resident stated “the pavements have been cleared near the school in time for the start of the new term, but the kids are young, strong and stable, I have almost slipped many a time on these streets since it started snowing, what about those of us that cannot just pick ourselves back up?”

Grit, the deicing salt responsible for making icey roads safer to drive and walk on has been in huge demand as the wider United Kingdom, including Wales and many cities in England were panicked after it was announced that there may have been a shortage in supplies of grit throughout. However, over the past couple of days saviour lorry deliveries, of which the first supplies were loaded with 12,000 tonnes of grit, are aiding in the fight against the freeze, just as the country received further warning to be aware that the snowfall may not be over.

In a recent press release about The City of Edinburgh Council‘s work during the current weather conditions, Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, Cllr Jenny Dawe supported the council’s efforts stating: “The last few weeks have seen a massive amount of increased pressure on Council services. I am confident that our staff have been putting in maximum effort, working around the clock in the face of the difficult weather conditions, to reduce the impact for those living and working in the city. [...] We have seen some treacherous conditions on the roads and our priority must remain [with] the main routes into the city, access routes for emergency services and routes to hospitals. We are acutely aware of the impact on local areas because of the priority system. Residents should utilise the 1,600 on street grit bins across the city, which are replenished as quickly as possible. [...] I am sure that people are thinking of those less able than themselves and are remaining vigilant and lending a helping hand where possible.”

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