ABERDEENSHIRE Council has defended its snow clearing work during the recent bad spell of weather after a Cruden Bay resident claimed the council had no snowploughs to clear the village’s streets.
John Pilkington, of Braehead Drive, says he was just one of many residents who struggled to get their cars out of the driveways because of the amount of snow lying on the streets in the village.
He told the Buchanie: “A lot of people had to have a lot of time off work because they simply couldn’t get out of their driveways due to the amount of snow.
“I pity those people who had urgent or hospital appointments. The situation was extremely bad throughout Cruden Bay but I believe the council may have sold its last small snowplough last year prior to the bad weather and have none of these ploughs left to clear the streets.
“During the entire period of the heavy snowfall Cruden Bay didn’t see a single plough - the only thing we saw on Braehead Drive was a tractor with a bucket on the front, but that only took away the top layer of snow and left treacherous ice underneath,” he said.
“The small 7.5 tonne snowplough used to go up and round the streets of the village and into the estates, but we had absolutely nothing at all like that this time.”
However, a spokesman for Aberdeenshire Council said this week that the local authority actually increased its number of ploughs by one last year.
“Across Aberdeenshire there is a vast network of roads and footways and these have to be treated on a hierarchical basis,” he said.
“This does mean that certain roads, and indeed footways, have a higher priority and are therefore treated first.
“Our Priority 1 footways are those within the central areas of urban communities where shopping and commercial activities are concentrated and also those serving essential public services.”
Across Aberdeenshire Council workmen have access to around 100 pieces of snow moving equipment, including gritters, ploughs and snow blowers. It also has more than 50 pieces of plant dedicated to the clearing of footways and other ancillary areas.
In addition to its in-house resources, more than 120 farmers are contracted to the council to provide ploughing services, primarily on the rural road network. During periods of heavy snowfall the local authority also utilises resources from the private sector to assist with snow clearing operations.
The council operates a stand-by system between mid-November and the end of March, with personnel and equipment strategically placed across Aberdeenshire allowing the most appropriate treatment to be carried out as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The daily schedule is planned using specialist forecasts from the Met Office along with information gathered from a range of ice detection sites across Aberdeenshire.
The winter maintenance programme comprises spreading salt on roads and footways to prevent the formation of ice (gritting), and ploughing snow to clear roads following heavy snowfalls.
Morning gritting usually begins at 5:30am and ends at around 8am. Evening gritting start times vary, but the council usually aims to end no later than 10pm. Grit bins are also provided at locations throughout Aberdeenshire, members of the public may use the salt from these bins to treat roads and footpaths.