The big freeze blasts Formartine area

SNOW and sub-zero temperatures continue to make life difficult for pedestrians and motorists in and around the Ellon area, with one local resident hitting out at slow reactions from the local authority,

Castle Park resident, Norman Fraser told the Times: “The council should have acted sooner and been better prepared, given that they had plenty warning that this was going to happen. When it started snowing a week past Saturday, there were no gritters or ploughs to be seen - instead, they were around the town on Sunday, which in my view was far too late.

“Because snow wasn’t cleared as soon it fell, it has now compacted into ice, making it treachrous for pedestrians and motorists alike. The response should have been quicker”

Mr Fraser who has been helping to clear driveways and paths for his neighbours appealed to able-bodied residents to do the same, and keep an eye on elderly or vulnerable neighbours.

He concluded: “People don’t seem to cope with the snow nowadays. In the 1940s, there used to be snow that was about ten feet high and we still managed to get on with everyday life - because you had to.”

In response to Mr Fraser’s concerns, Aberdeenshire Council’s roads quality and resources manager, Bill Lennox, emphasised that even though a route has been treated, it can still be icy.

He said: “Pedestrians and motorists have to realise that the council can’t control the weather, though we are extremely well prepared, and also that salt is not a cure-all for winter road conditions,

“It only becomes effective at preventing ice formation after it has turned into a brine solution - dry rock salt needs the action of traffic to start the melting process. This is why roads can still be icy even after treatment and why untreated side roads can become difficult to clear of compacted snow.

“Contrary to popular belief, salt does not eradicate heavy snow from a road surface on its own - anything more than a light snowfall needs to be cleared by a blade or plough.”

Times Weather Columnist, Fred Crawford revealed that the lowest temperature in Ellon to date, was -14.6C last Thursday. Schools and businesses have been severely hit by the recent weather - which shows no sign of abating.

Ellon and District SNP Councillor, Rob Merson said: “Although I have received three or four complaints, all but one of these has been about specific problems which have arisen as a result of the adverse weather, and I have been happy to take these up on behalf of my constituents.

“Most people have recognised that the winter maintenance teams have been doing their very best under extremely difficult circumstances, and the worst weather conditions which we have experienced in Scotland for many years.

“My main concern is the danger that the icy conditions underfoot create for the elderly and infirm. I would recommend that they avoid unnecessary journeys, and make use of the delivery facilities offered by the local supermarkets and pharmacies.”

Democratic Independent Councillor Debra Storr said: “The snow has caused many school closures but I am pleased to see that they have been making effective use of the Glow system to minimise the educational impacts of closures. Some pupils may not be so keen! I know that some academy pupils have had exams re-arranged and some pupils have hated this delay, but others have taken it as extra revision time.”

A spokesman for Aberdeenshire Council said: “In persistent bad weather the constant movement of traffic and the clearing of snow reduces the concentration of salt, requiring even more treatment.

“We have at our disposal 300 staff, 70 gritters, 45 ploughs and over 50 footpath gritters. We can also call on 120 farmers and contractors with blades supplied by the council to clear roads of snow.

“The criticism we have seen of road crews and the council is unfair, given that staff have been working from 5am throughout the day and night in very difficult, sometimes dangerous conditions on 3,500 miles of road while this wintry weather continues.

Anyone encountering problems or delays shouldn’t be surprised in these circumstances and should drive according to the conditions.

“Motorists choosing to ignore police advice can also make it very difficult to carry out our gritting operations, as they block routes and require rescuing.”