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Winter Resilience

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 26th October 2011.

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Photo of Neil Bibby Neil Bibby Labour

A wish on the part of residents that every road be salted around the clock is one that cannot be granted, and the Government says in its report that it cannot give such an absolute guarantee. I know that the Government has purchased more salt than it did last year, but I hope that the trap that was fallen into last year, when the Government told us that there were ample supplies of salt without adding the necessary caveats, and leaving local authorities to explain them, can be avoided.

As others have done, I pay tribute to the people—and organisations such as community councils—who pulled together in their communities and gave up their time to help their neighbours and those who were most in need.

I note from the report that the Scottish Government is engaging with NFU Scotland to explore ways in which farmers can assist with snow clearance. A number of local authorities in more rural areas already use the assistance of farmers, and I urge that avenue to be pursued as soon as possible. I hope that there will be greater co-ordination among local authorities this winter. I know that local authorities in the Strathclyde area have taken steps to increase their ability to share supplies. Such co-operation between councils should be supported and encouraged.

I think we can all agree that, this winter, we must hope for the best but prepare for the worst. I hope that the Scottish Government will avoid making the same mistakes that it has made in past winters and that it will lead a co-ordinated and well-communicated response to whatever the weather throws at us.