White-out plan is put in place for Linlithgow

061210 wintery conditions in linlithgow
061210 wintery conditions in linlithgow

Linlithgow is bracing itself for winter with an updated action plan.

On Tuesday, West Lothian Council unveiled a new strategy to make it more ready than ever before for a severe winter.

Linlithgow councillor Martyn Day said: “There was a massive consultation leading up to this and this was fed into the most comprehensive weather review ever done in West Lothian.

‘‘We could not be better prepared. We only hope it doesn’t have to be put in place.”

The new plan follows winter 2010/11 which saw the worst blizzards in Linlithgow since 1964, pupils having time off school, roofs caving in and 30cm of snowfall in one night. It will be covered by the council’s £2.8 million winter service budget for 2011/12, which includes £500,000 for extra equipment and the out-of-hours monitoring service.

Salt stocks have been brought in at a record breaking 30,000 tonnes, three times as much as at the start of winter 2009/10.

Approximately 4000 tonnes is used over six days of continuous salting, so 30,000 tonnes would be enough for around 45 days.

The council has added to its fleet by buying 29 BobCats and two Multi-Hogs with snow blower attachments. They will be used with the 29 footpath tractors, four fixed body permanent gritters, 16 multi-purpose HGV lorries/gritters, nine operational gritters with demountable gritters, 11 pick-ups (hired), and one loading shovel already used. The out-of-hours monitoring service means strategic routes will be treated before early morning peak traffic hit the roads.

Streets have been sectioned into ward areas and prioritised on topography and locality, and the council and Lothian and Borders Police will remove any parked cars blocking access to gritters.

Sheila McGaw, chairwoman of Linlithgow Pensioners’ Group hopes the plan will be better than last year, saying: “The pavements need to be cleared earlier. At Merker Terrace where I stay you couldn’t walk to the main road.

‘‘Older folk were stuck in their homes and they were lucky to have relatives to help them. Numbers in our group went down considerably due to the bad weather - no one was getting out of the house.”

Road Services will extend their winter service to include Linlithgow Primary, Linlithgow Bridge Primary and Low Port Primary, clearing main entrances.

Missed areas for bin collections will be prioritised and service disruption will be advertised through the council webpage and social media. The six CRCs will be kept open if possible, and 11 “emergency tipping points” including Sainsbury’s, Linlithgow and Holy Family RC and Winchburgh Primary can be made available.

Four wheel drive vehicles will be used to reach the elderly and vulnerable and an emergency volunteer service is in place to help in collecting medication, shopping and snow clearing.

The severe weather strategy follows months of consultation with local area committees, trade unions, head teachers, parent councils and emergency planning officers and will be put in place if there is a continuous snow forecast, leading to over 10cm of snow over a large area.

Council leader Peter Johnston said: “The last two years have seen severe weather with last winter widely acknowledged as being the worst in the last 100 years.

‘‘No-one knows for sure what this winter will bring, however the best information we have is that it is likely to be as bad as last winter.”