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.