Aberdeen council’s transport chief has insisted she is “confident” the city is prepared for the worst of the weather – with forecasters predicting a rough winter in the coming months.
The local authority has amassed 12,000 tonnes of salt and has an army of 180 staff and a fleet of 44 vehicles at the ready to keep roads and pavements passable.
And, for the first time, residents will be able to track the progress of gritters online to see what work they are carrying out on different streets across the city.
Communities will also be urged to step up their efforts at keeping paths and pavements clear, with one-tonne bags of salt being provided to community groups and large bins available at 20 locations.
In 2017, city residents were furious over the condition of the payments and roads, with some people claiming to be “trapped” in their homes and others threatening to withhold their council tax.
And, last month, there was concern when a city council report revealed there was a “high risk” its allocated budget would “only cover the costs of a mild winter” and warned extra funds may be needed in the event of high snowfall.
Scientists at University College in London have said temperatures could plunge in January and February and conditions similar to the infamous Beast from the East could sweep across the nation.
During budget negotiations earlier this year, the ruling Conservative, Aberdeen Labour and independent administration approved more than £40m of savings – including a £153,000 cut to winter roads maintenance.
However, council leaders have called for more cash from Holyrood to cover the expense, especially now that roads such as Anderson Drive have fallen under the authority’s control following the opening of the AWPR.
Aberdeenshire Council has been warned it may have to dip into its reserves to pay for road maintenance even in the event of a mild winter.
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But council transport spokeswoman Sandra Macdonald said, on a visit to the city’s Bucksburn depot yesterday, she was “confident” contingencies were in place if required.
She said: “We have 11,000 tonnes of salt here and 1,000 more at the East Tullos Depot, we have plenty in stocks and hopefully the weather won’t mean we need it all but we are prepared.
“There are contingency funds available should the winter prove to be worse than expected, but the staff are ready and hopefully the citizens are ready as well.”
Opposition Lib Dem infrastructure spokesman Steve Delaney said: “I would like to think the council is well prepared, but you never know what the weather has in store.
“It is hard to say if contingencies will be needed, but it is important that, if they are, they can be quickly accessed.”
Jackie Dunbar, SNP operations spokeswoman: “The slashing of the budget could mean that the funds required to carry out the vital works of gritting our streets and pavements are used up by Christmas – meaning the administration will need to dip into our already scarce reserves.”