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Highland Council assurances over winter road and pavement gritting as local authority seeks to ease strain on NHS from falls and slips; Ross-shire communities invited to help take local action to spread the load

By Hector MacKenzie

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A gritter takes to the roads of North Kessock during an earlier cold snap.
Picture: Gary Anthony.
A gritter takes to the roads of North Kessock during an earlier cold snap. Picture: Gary Anthony.

ROSS-SHIRE resilience groups prepared to help share the load of winter gritting are being invited to contact Highland Council.

The local authority, responsible for treating a massive network of routes on an agreed priority basis, sought today to provide reassurance to communities that its winter gritting teams are continuing to work "extremely hard throughout the area during the current lock-down, providing a road and pavement gritting service following the council’s policy on prioritisation of routes".

The local authority has recently invested in 10 new winter gritting vehicles to replace some of the aging fleet . It now boasts105 gritters, 42 footpath tractors, and one snowblower. It says over 200 staff spread around 50,000 tonnes of salt on Highlands roads and pavements in a typical winter.

In a statement today, it said that with the current Covid-19 pandemic, it is committed to doing everything it can to reduce the pressure on the NHS from those suffering from falls or slips due to winter weather.

The council is extending coverage where possible by bringing in additional council resources to enhance services related to pavement gritting.

In addition, and as in previous years, it is offering assistance to communities who wish to take action in their own area to help clear snow and ice from footpaths by providing salt in either bins or heaps, snow shovels and pushers, gloves and hi-vis vests, health and safety advice to volunteers and public liability insurance.

Full guidance and an application form can be found on the council’s website at https://www.highland.gov.uk/info/20005/roads_and_pavements/99/roads_information/7

Communities are asked to help identify the most suitable locations for these by either completion of the form on the web-site, or by contacting the following addresses:

Ross and Cromarty: Roads.RossandCromarty@highland.gov.uk

Skye & Lochalsh: Roads.SkyeandLochalsh@highland.gov.uk

Inverness: Roads.Inverness@highland.gov.uk

Trish Robertson, chair of the council’s economy and infrastructure committee said: “The council is working hard to deliver our winter gritting services despite the challenges that the covid pandemic is putting in front of us.

"Recognising the challenges being faced by the NHS, we want to do as much as possible to avoid the risk of slips and falls, and allow people to be able to get out and about as much as possible.

"If communities are able to assist in providing enhanced or more localised services, there is an opportunity for salt to be delivered to locations along with equipment to assist in spreading.

"The link on the council’s web-site gives further information, and I would urge any community or resilience groups who have capacity to help to get in touch and our local teams will help advise on appropriate locations for salt storage.”

Details of the council’s highland wide and local area gritting policies and maps are on the Council’s website at www.highland.gov.uk/gritting.

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