Councillors asked to agree improvements to Aberdeenshire's approach to winter weather

A range of changes are being suggested to improve the approach taken to dealing with winter in Aberdeenshire’s communities.

In recent years, the Council has reviewed its delivery of roads winter services to ensure delivery meets the expectations of the travelling public in line with the standards contained within council policy.

Following this review, further changes are now being proposed to make best use of available resources and councillors will be asked to approve them next week.

Planned footway gritting has been increased and re-focussed to ensure the busiest paths are treated first, with those which are top priority all to be completed by 8am.

In comparison to the current arrangement, 100 kilometres of paths will now receive immediate treatment on the first day of frost, as opposed to around 87 kilometres.

This includes links to transport interchanges, academies and medical facilities.

By focussing on delivering an equitable service across the whole of Aberdeenshire and concentrating efforts at locations in settlements with higher pedestrian numbers, some communities with low pedestrian numbers may see a reduced footway gritting service following the reprioritisation.

To allow communities to help themselves more during winter, Aberdeenshire Council is also proposing a snow warden scheme.

This would see volunteers provided with training, warm clothing, insurance cover and safety equipment to help make a difference in their communities.

It is also intended to double the number of large grit bins at council recycling centres to improve public access to salt and grit.

Last year, the council’s winter maintenance service was achieved within its allocated budget of £4.28 million. This is significantly less than in previous years.

Chairman of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC), David Aitchison, said: “These changes are designed to make the best use of available resources and we are making it even easier for communities to help themselves, should they want to do that.
 
"Winter weather in Aberdeenshire can often be really challenging for everyone, but we can all work together to minimise the impact it has on our daily lives.
 
"The proposed snow warden scheme has the potential to really increase the resilience of our communities, paired with the increased availability of grit and salt, and we are keen to speak to communities who feel these would be of benefit."
 
ISC vice chair, Graeme Clark, said: “Local authority budget challenges remain, and it is important the council makes sure it spends the available budget wisely.

“The improvements being proposed ensure a quality service can be delivered to the greatest number of residents.

“Where communities have a determination to increase their resilience and work together to reduce the impact severe winter weather can have, we will be delighted to help facilitate that with the provision of equipment and training.”

Local councillors were asked for their views before the proposed improvements go before the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee next week. (Thu, Oct 6)

You can see more information in the report to committee on our website.