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Community shows true grit in self-help salt trial

12/12/12

The offer of free tonne bags of salt to help communities help themselves through the winter has been embraced by residents of an Aberdeen cul-de-sac.

Eric Galloway and his neighbours in Davidson Place, Northfield, are the first in the city to take up Aberdeen City Council's offer of a free one-tonne bag of salt to treat their areas during harsh conditions.

The council is carrying out a trial on salt supply and community self-help and has invited expressions of interest from community groups who are willing to get out and do their bit to tackle ice and snow locally.

Mr Galloway said: "We live in a cul-de-sac and it's on an incline. Very often the gritting lorries don't get down here because they're working on the busier roads, so it can be difficult to get out.

"There are some young folk in the cul-de-sac and there are some who can't push cars as much as they used to, including myself. I wanted to help in some way and so when I read about the council wanting to supply salt, I thought that could be useful. I can't push cars, but I can certainly shovel a bit of salt.

"One of the tenants here used to load up a couple of boxes of grit from the grit box and drive around, shovelling out a bit of grit at a time. Now he doesn't need to do that, we can all help ourselves. I've left a shovel by the bag of salt and the residents just go and shovel a bit of salt and then put the shovel back. It's working really well."

Mr Galloway added: "The day the salt came there was snow on the ground. We put a letter round the neighbours telling them the salt was here and it's been used already. The bag is on ground between my house and my neighbour's house and we're both quite happy with that."

One tonne bags of salt could be provided, where appropriate, which members of the community can use over the winter period to tackle icy areas. A secure and accessible area, like a driveway or garage, would have to be available for storing the salt.

Councillor Ramsay Milne, vice-convener of Enterprise, Planning and Infrastructure, said: "This is a great example of community spirit and I am delighted that Mr Galloway and his neighbours have taken us up on our offer of salt so they can help themselves.

"It's become clear over the last few winters that many people in Aberdeen are willing to help out in their own communities and that is commendable and something to be encouraged.

"There are about 900km of roads and 2,000km of pavements in Aberdeen and, with the best will in the world, the gritting teams simply can't get round every street every day to clear and grit them all, particularly when the conditions are very severe and they have to concentrate on the priority routes. The wet weather we've been experiencing makes things worse, because the rain either dilutes or completely washes away the salt.

The salt, like the grit provided in grit bins, will be for use only on public areas.

Any groups which would like to express an interest in taking a bag of salt for community use should email rblain@aberdeencity.gov.uk or telephone Richard Blain on 01224 241500.

Aberdeen City Council has gone into the winter with a full supply of salt – almost 17,000 tonnes – in stock and arrangements have been made for further deliveries throughout the season.

Supermarkets and hardware stores are already selling winter equipment, including bags of rock salt, antifreeze and snow shovels. The council is urging residents to be organised and get supplies now for use on their own property in case of a shortage later in the year. The salt will not go off and can be stored for future years if not needed this year. Table salt can also be used to melt ice.

All 900 of the city's grit bins are in the process of being filled – a major exercise which would take a two man crew the equivalent of 38 working weeks to complete. Businesses and members of the public are reminded that they are welcome to use the grit in these bins, but it should be used only on public roads and footpaths. It is not for use on private property or business premises. If a grit box needs to be refilled, please call 08456 080919 or call 01224 241511 and leave a message, stating the location of the box, or use the Report It link on the city council website at www.aberdeencity.gov.uk We will refill it as soon as we can.

Council employees carry out salting and snow clearing work on city roads on a priority basis. Further information is available in the council's Winter Services Plan 2012-13 at www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/web/files//Roads/winter_service_plan.pdf

Please bear in mind that all roads cannot be treated simultaneously. If there is a particular problem on a road, please call the Aberdeen City Council contact centre on 08456 080919. Problems can also be reported using the Report It link on the city council website at www.aberdeencity.gov.uk Please do not call the depot.

The council will also be using Twitter and Facebook to offer advice and keep city residents up-to-date with conditions in Aberdeen.

Local and national TV and radio stations and text services provide a useful source of information for motorists and travellers during inclement weather conditions and the Met Office provides a weather warning service, which you can subscribe to on the Met Office website at www.metoffice.gov.uk

For general information on main and trunk roads visit the Traffic Scotland website at www.trafficscotland.org

The Scottish Government has created a website to help people prepare for the winter weather. The Ready Scotland site, at www.ReadyScotland.org contains practical advice and the simple steps people can take to protect themselves, their families, their communities and their businesses from the worst effects of all kinds of bad weather.

Scottish Water is offering online advice to help customers keep their properties safe this winter, at www.scottishwater.co.uk/winter