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West Lothian gets Winter Ready

17 October
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West Lothian Council is ready to help tackle the impact of severe weather this winter.

The council has launched its Winter Ready West Lothian 2018/19 campaign, to highlight the council's preparations for severe weather and encourage local residents to do the same. Local residents are now being urged to make their own preparations.

The council has:

  • 30,000 tonnes of salt available for the winter period 2018/19 - three times the amount required during a 'normal' winter
  • nearly 100 vehicles equipped to tackle winter conditions, such as gritters, mini-tractors and skid steers.
  • 2,225 grit bins throughout the county

The council has warned that during extreme bouts of winter weather, that they can't cover all areas at all times, and is urging local people to prepare themselves, as best they can.

Executive councillor for the environment Tom Conn said: "Forward planning means that West Lothian is well-prepared to tackle impact of severe weather this winter.

"Trained staff, a significant fleet of vehicles and a large supply of salt is all ready to be deployed if snow falls, or if we experience other extreme weather conditions such as flooding or high winds. Other services across the council are also prepared to ensure essential services can still be delivered."

Last winter, West Lothian was affected by its first "red weather warning event".

The extreme conditions affected the entire council area and were concentrated over a four-day period.

Councillor Conn added: "Last winter was a reminder that when severe weather does occur it has a significant impact upon our communities. The council is well prepared but our resources can only cover so much.

"Our road network is over 1,000 km which is the equivalent of travelling from Livingston to Brussels and then some more. Gritting our footpath network is the same distance as gritting a route between Bathgate to beyond Paris.  It is clearly not possible to clear all roads and all paths at the same time during severe weather and we must prioritise what routes are treated.

"Priority is given to keeping major routes open during periods of severe weather, which means disruption is possible on other routes."

He added: "We have over 2,200 grit bins which do help but the reality is that grit bins are only ever meant to be used as a short term measure. Salt inevitably runs out quickly and in times of an extreme weather event it is not always possible to service and replenish grit bins due to their location and the deployment of resources in higher priority areas.

"We would urge residents to purchase salt/grit and help to treat their own driveways, paths and streets in the event of severe weather."

Changes over recent years and the impact of 'Beast from the East'

Changes have been made to improve the service in recent years, including using additional resources from other council services, more specific weather forecasting for the north and south of West Lothian, and reviewing route maps to include newly adopted streets.

This aims to ensure the council is as prepared as possible for all the kinds of severe weather that can take place in winter, which can also include low temperatures, high winds and flooding as well as snow and frost.

David Wilson, the council's Roads Operations Manager added:

"Last year was a reminder of how severe winter weather can be. Whilst available resources were used to good effect last year there were a number of emergency incidents where members of the public and employees were stranded in their vehicles and homes. In these circumstances it is important to balance the needs of the travelling public and the safety of employees undertaking the winter service; therefore risk assessments are essential which may result in roads being closed rather than attempting snow clearance. The safety of staff and members of the public takes priority."

Householders urged to prepare

Householders in West Lothian are being urged to take steps to ensure that they are prepared for winter weather.

Executive councillor for the environment Tom Conn said:

"Householders can play their part to ensure they are prepared for winter as well, by checking that pipes are lagged, they know how to turn off the water, and their insurance policies are up to date. Salt/grit is also readily available from most supermarkets and can be kept at home.

"Parents/carers should check that their child's school has up-to-date contact details, and drivers can prepare their cars by checking tyres, anti-freeze and carrying a shovel with them. 

"We would urge residents to purchase salt/grit and help to treat their own driveways, paths and streets."

More details on snow routes and how the council prioritises snow clearance, please visit www.westlothian.gov.uk/winter

Information on priority roads and footpaths, including practical information on how to prepare for Winter is being distributed to all homes and businesses via the council's newspaper Bulletin. Regular Winter messages are available on the council's Social Media channels.

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