Bonnyrigg and Lasswade Community Council feedback to Midlothian Council’s Winter Weather Service Provision
1.In what areas did the Roads team and its partners perform well?
For the most part priority carriageway routes, principal roads and bus routes were kept clear and well sanded. This was particularly true before the ‘Beast from the East’.
2.In what areas of the service did we [MC] not perform well?
Footpath clearing was poor. In some through roads ploughing activity caused substantial barriers to house entrances (High Street in Lasswade for example). This was isolating for the elderly. Likewise, footpaths to and from bus stops across many areas were not cleared isolating many. On main routes it is not possible to walk along the roads when the footways are not cleared.
During the ‘Beast’ it became clear the community would have to take on clearing of snow, particularly in residential areas. Few minded this but it became clear the grit box system was not fit for purpose. We understand there has not been an audit of the grit boxes in some time, nor are all re-filled regularly.
3.Council Winter Priorities
No argument with the winter priorities in principle. However, the execution of the priorities seemed to be uneven in places. Clearing roads is great but not at the expense of making footways impassable because of piled up snow. The reasons why we need snow clearing is to allow people to get to work, school, doctors etc so we would like to see more equipment and effort put in to footways or people are stuck in their homes with the main roads clear. There was an issue at Lasswade Primary School when the Lollipop Lady could hardly stand on the ice at one point far less safely shepherd children across roads. The lack of grit made it difficult for local householders to help what was a very dangerous situation. It should be noted that with the new parking restrictions around Lasswade primary the area of walking to school has had to increase and far more streets in the area need their footways given greater priority than the list shown in the policy. With other school exclusion zones this is likely also to be worth reviewing.
4.Involving local communities.
As a community council we believe we could take on a role in helping with an audit of grit boxes. Our social media reach is considerable and we could feed back information on where there are boxes and where they are considered to be required. Only if we are given the tools can be help deliver winter weather help i.e. the boxes have to replenished timeously. We would like to have a better understanding of what the criteria are for the siting of a box or we will be asking for one in every street.
It is of concern that the Cumnock Yard is where the local supply in Bonnyrigg is kept for footpath clearing. Perhaps new arrangements are now in place.
5.Other areas of winter service to review.
It is unlikely during extreme weather events that Council staff can know of individual problems. But the public could report and would be happy to do so if there was a Storm Emergency Phone Number operational during these rare emergencies. The Council website reporting is unsatisfactory at the best of times (acknowledgement or feedback) far less during a crisis. Problems such as where ploughed snow is causing a major issue or priority footways to schools would be better reported by phone – on a direct line to staff member who can explain response.
Some concerns have been raised regarding the consistency of subcontractors’ work. This was particularly the case with road gritting.
Concerns have been expressed about the provisions (far less the resources) put in place for a bad winter. The view of our members is that Financial Reserves need to be in place, and ring-fenced, for such events every year.