Winter plan for Caithness roads confirmed
24th November 2017
The priorities by which The Highland Council will grit roads in Caithness this winter have been approved.
At the Caithness Committee meeting (Tuesday 21 November 2017) members approved a winter maintenance plan for the area which includes priority road lists and maps showing the priority gritting routes.
Across Caithness there are 135kms of primary routes, 222km of secondary routes (55%) and 49km of other routes. The average annual usage of salt for the Caithness area is around 6,000 tonnes.
Primary routes are treated first, followed by secondary routes and crews will only move on to treat other roads when the primary and secondary routes are all completed.
Over the winter in Caithness the council will operate a rota to ensure that there is always a qualified and experienced member of local staff available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take decisions on the deployment of appropriate resources to deal with the weather conditions
The council uses a professional forecast provider who provides daily and five day weather forecasts. This data is used to plan treatment for the roads; In addition real time data is obtained by staff from 30 icealert sites. These sensors provide information on the road surface temperature, surface conditions and the presence of salt.
Each year local areas put in place their own Winter Maintenance Plan to cover the operational details in order to deliver a service locally within existing budget and resources
Chair of the Area Committee, Councillor Donnie Mackay said: "We are lucky to have a hard working and dedicated team of local staff who go out in the worst of wintry conditions to provide the best service they can. There will be ten front-line gritters and four footpath tractors. The plan of routes and priorities we have agreed will be closely monitored over the coming months to make sure we can respond to extreme conditions and use all available resources to the best effect."
Details of the Caithness Area priority routes and winter services information can be viewed by visiting the council's website at: http://www.highland.gov.uk/gritting.
Caithness councillors are keen to encourage communities to "self-help" as much as possible and to be aware of people within their local community who may need assistance from neighbours in clearing snow and ice or possibly shopping or accessing health and social services during extreme weather conditions.
Community self-help is also being encouraged under the Councils ‘'Winter Resilience’’ scheme whereby communities can submit an application via their community council to carry out footway gritting operations within an agreed area. The Council will provide the community with salt/grit, bins, scrapers and reflective waistcoats. This does not replace the service provided by the Council, but allows the community to provide an enhanced level of service.
Guidance is also published on the Council web site https://www.highland.gov.uk/readyforwinter and by the Scottish Government on their “Ready Scotland” web site http://www.readyscotland.org/ (external link) urging people to be prepared for emergencies and extreme weather.
A council gritter at Dunbeath
With Storm Caroline hitting the Highlands yesterday, today's heavy snowfall and the forecast for a drop in temperatures over the next 48 hours, the Highland Council's crews and winter vehicles have been busy in action. The fleet includes 105 gritters, 42 footpath tractors and over the coming months 200 plus staff will be providing winter maintenance services.
Wick Campus, including Wick High School, Newtonpark Primary School and High Life Highland Leisure facilities will remain closed on Friday 8 December 2017. The closure is due to high winds during Storm Caroline today which caused some damage to part of the roof of the Wick campus gym, causing the metal flashing around a roof light to become detached.
Following the high winds forecast and experienced this week due to Storm Caroline, The Highland Council is encouraging landowners to check trees and vegetation near to public roads which may have been damaged. Roads affected by fallen trees this morning were near Beauly; Achnagarron near Invergordon and Lochaber which staff are clearing.
The high winds during Storm Caroline today have caused some damage to part of the roof of the Wick campus gym, causing the metal flashing around a roof light to become detached. The school was already closed to pupils today due to the adverse weather.
Road condition reports by The Highland Council's Community Services for the morning of Thursday 7 December 2017 are as follows: Caithness and Sutherland: Most roads are affected by snow and ice. Treatment in progress.
The Highland Council expresses its deep disappointment at the news of further branch closures by the Royal Bank of Scotland. Leader of the Highland Council Margaret Davidson said: "This will cause real difficulties for many customers and small businesses.
Highland consumers who have lost money to a scam involving payment through Western Union wire transfer between 1st January 2004 and 19th January 2017, are being encouraged by Highland Council Trading Standards to file a claim for a refund with America's Federal Trade Commission in a bid to get some or if not all of their money back. In January 2017, Western Union agreed to pay $586 million for turning a blind eye to scammers and other criminals who used its service to trick customers into paying for bogus prizes, loans, jobs, discounted products and other financial rewards in exchange for money upfront.
The Highland Council and Department for Work and Pensions are implementing plans to improve accessibility to their services. This joint venture will see the jobcentre staff co-locating with the Council and other services in the council's new modern office developments in both Fort William and Wick.
City-region deal investment means that Inverness can now be branded a digital city. Ness WiFi, a free WiFi service, which was successfully piloted earlier this year, has now been rolled out across Inverness city centre, extending to and including areas such as the High Street, the Castle, Eden Court, and the bus and railway stations.
Leisure and cultural venues currently run by council arm's-length bodies will continue to benefit from charity relief from non-domestic rates. Following lengthy consultation with stakeholders, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay today confirmed that the Scottish Government will not be accepting the recommendation of the Barclay Review to end this benefit.
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