Countdown to chaos as salt stocks low

David Mundell celebrates with his family after the result of the election at Dumfries.
David Mundell celebrates with his family after the result of the election at Dumfries.
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SALT stocks will be rationed in the Borders after it emerged no deliveries are expected until the New Year.

Scottish Borders Council has confirmed it is undertaking an “essential review” with 15 days of salt supplies left for the region’s roads.

And the local authority will continue to pressure suppliers and the Scottish Goverment to maintain an “acceptable” level of salt stock, with sub-zero temperatures to continue into January.

An SBC statement read: “The review comes after it emerged that there are no confirmed deliveries of salt supplies to SBC over the next few weeks.

“In anticipation of continuing severe weather, SBC has already been operating a rigorous and active management approach to the use of salt stocks since the start of the severe weather period.

“SBC currently has 15 days resilience and approximately 7,000 tonnes of salt in supply having used approximately 17,000 tonnes since the start of the severe weather period. This position has only been achieved through the very tight management and deployment of salt resources since the winter emergency began.

The statement added: “In the meantime, SBC’s priority will be to continue to maintain the main road network to ensure that the majority of traffic moving in and around the Scottish Borders does so in as safe a manner as possible.”

Council chiefs plan to use a maximum of 160 tonnes of salt per day on primary routes, 80 tonnes on trunk roads and 60 tonnes on urban streets and grit bins where a salt/grit mix will be used.

However, both urban streets and grit bins will see their supply “controlled” to ensure overall salt stocks remain within an acceptable level.

Demand and treacherous road conditions have also resulted in a backlog of 20 days for oil deliveries for heating and fuel.

Lothian and Borders Police chief superintendent Graham Sinclair was due to raise the issue of oil shortages with chief constable David Strang this week.

At Scottish Borders Council’s emergency planning meeting, emergency planning officer Jim Fraser said the council had helped supplies reach vulnerable people, such as a cancer patient in Glentress.

At the same lunchtime meeting on Tuesday, SBC’s director of education and lifelong learning, Glenn Rodger, admitted there would be a “sigh of relief at half past three” when schools across the region closed for the festive break following disruptions throughout December.

And despite forecasts for the freezing conditions to continue and low fuel supplies at several schools, Mr Rodger said: “We fully intend to reopen all schools for the start of the new term on January 5.”

Meanwhile, SBC has praised the work of its home carers – in particular the night support team – who have continued to serve vulnerable Borderers throughout the big freeze.

Among those grateful for their work is Rob Ainslie of Galashiels, whose mother-in-law Win Sidell, 86, receives support at her Wood Street home.

Mr Ainslie said: “The carers have never missed a visit – they have been up at 7am, lunchtime and between 7pm and 8pm each day.

“They have been unable to get to the house in their cars but have still visited on foot despite the pavements being covered in snow and ice.”

SBC leader David Parker added: “We are well aware of the efforts being made by individuals and groups across the Borders who have been helping to clear snow, check on neighbours and delivering food and prescriptions. We really appreciate all of this and as we approach the Christmas break, it is vital that communities continue to keep up the good work, maintain high spirits and ensure they are well prepared for the Christmas holiday.”

Advice on issues such as refuse collections – where householders are asked to ensure their bins are ready and cleared of snow by 7am – during the wintry weather is available at www.scotborders.gov.uk