Snow causes havoc as council budgets blown

Taking a stroll through Edinburgh this morning suddenly feels like an ordeal, with people more focused on staying upright than planning their day as they head to work.

Pavements across the city have turned from white sheets to brown slush, and it’s been revealed that Midlothian Council has already spent their entire winter roads budget.

In the midst of commuting chaos across Scotland, it has been reported that at least five local authorities have exhausted their winter maintenance budget, forcing them to spend millions more in a bid to keep streets clear. Extra staff costs and more grit have been deployed throughout the country, but even today there are still roads covered in snow, with some schools still closed.

 

Edinburgh’s streets are quieter than usual today as snow makes commuting treacherous.

Midlothian Officials are also stressing that the cash used to grit the roads “would put a strain on the council’s overall budget”. The strain comes after council budgets across the country were slashed by over £30 million in the last two years.   Predictions suggest budget gaps of more than £30 million every year until 2023 – totalling up to £152.9 million.

David Kennedy from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities says:

“Cuts to local government certainly don’t help the situation.” But he assures that the Government will not sacrifice safety to save money.

“Councils main concerns are public safety and keeping roads clear and people moving. Like any budget decision, individual spend is rightly and properly a matter for local discretion based on local need and circumstance.”

Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s transport minister, has since responded to the reports of some councils having exhausted their budgets, stating that the Scottish Government is willing to have talks with local authorities on the matter and that his “door is clearly open.”

UPDATE:

An urgent question has been asked at Holyrood to find out how Scotland will deal with the heavy snow that will continue to batter the country. It has been confirmed that there will be another amber warning for tonight across Scotland, and Police Scotland have also updated their travel advice warning from a level 3 to a level 4. This suggests that drivers avoid driving wherever possible.

  • Level 3: Police advise that there is a high risk of disruption for road journeys. Travellers are likely to experience significant delays.
  • Level 4: Avoid travelling on the roads – Non-essential journeys should be avoided. Severe delays are to be expected.

The amber warning relates to the M77, M74 and M75 motorways, which will not be closed. Mr Yousaf has also added that the option of closing off certain roads which could be severely affected is not out of the question; he will be working closely with Police Scotland and the option could be considered if necessary – but it would be localised.

Lib Dems MSP Mike Rumbles has called for funds to be made available to the councils that need support after their winter resilience funds have reached their limits. The transport has stated that no council has come forward as of yet on this, but he will be in contact with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) to discuss it. He has also reassured everyone that there is enough supplies to cope with what is being called some of the worst snow in a number of years.

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