A sudden weather event such as we have just experienced requires a partnership effort from the council, public agencies, police and Borders communities.
However, the council is prepared and ready for the winter conditions – we have the staff to care for those who need it, and the staff and resources to keep the roads clear. Our salt reserves were at a maximum at the start of this period and we have been committing this resource in a very careful and planned way.
The vast majority of staff across all departments have once again shown outstanding commitment and have worked together to ensure that the services that need to be delivered right across the board have been, and continue to be, delivered. The council is extremely grateful to staff for ‘going the extra mile’, as are members of the public who have expressed their gratitude for the tremendous effort they are making to keep the roads clear and services up and running.
Where staff have been unable to get into their normal base, they have either made their way to a local office to carry out their normal duties or pick up other duties to support frontline staff or worked from home. Many staff have walked to work where they could.
In order to keep services open, the council has assisted those in more difficult areas by laying on minibuses to help their journey to work and allowing them to work flexibly.
In relation to schools, there is always careful consideration before the decision to close is taken. When faced with such severe weather and low temperatures, the safety and wellbeing of pupils and staff is paramount.
Taking advice from colleagues in the police and roads department, we constantly monitor the situation and do everything we can to ensure as many schools open as possible. Flexibility is built into this decision-making process as head teachers have a staff directory telling them where staff live and work so that they can arrange to redeploy staff that live near to their school to attend work locally. This minimises the number of school closures whilst keeping children and staff safe.
We continue to refine the council’s emergency and business continuity plans, including how we work with partner agencies. These plans have been used extensively during the last two weeks.
The fact that services, especially to the vulnerable, have been maintained, that key routes have been kept open and the Borders has remained ‘open for business’ is testament to the effectiveness and the dedication of our staff, partner agencies, police and the resilience of our Borders communities.
David Parker (leader)
David Hume (chief executive)
Scottish Borders Council