And the lessons of winter are ...

KIRKCALDY;'December 2010 SNOW; 'Photo ; WALTER NEILSON

KIRKCALDY;'December 2010 SNOW; 'Photo ; WALTER NEILSON

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COUNCILLORS will hear the findings of a review of Fife Council’s winter gritting and snow clearing policy at a meeting today (Thursday).

Following the most severe winter weather in more than 50 years, the local authority undertook a review of its services - and its findings will go before the enterprise, environment and transportation committee.

The report says ‘many learning points have been gained’ from the last two years’ severe weather.

Dr Bob McLellan, head of transportation and environmental services, said: “We aim to improve the winter service this year by getting into residential streets at the same time as the priority routes.

More gritters

“We’ve purchased additional plant giving us a fleet of 31 gritters.

“These cover 23 primary gritting routes which equates to 59 per cent of the Fife Road Network.

“This is against a Scottish average of 42 per cent.

“Additional resources from our environmental operations and parks and countryside give us access to smaller plant and tractors, enabling us to tackle residential streets and footpaths more quickly.”

Feedback from last winter showed the region’s secondary routes had suffered unduly mainly due to the introduction of salt conversation practices following national salt shortages and subsequent guidance issued by the Scottish Salt Group.

The local authority have a budget of around £3.3m in place to deliver the winter service this year - an increase of £343,000 on 2010/11.

And Fife is maximising its salt holding at the start of this winter, with 40,000 tonnes, to ensure resilience against the most severe weather.

Bins restocked

Dr McLellan added: “Last year, we had access to 1,000 people during the peak periods of severe weather at a cost of £150,000 per day.

“We also very much welcomed the self help of Fife’s residents.

“The regular restocking of grit bins will continue this year and we have also ordered 3,000 one ton winter sacks for use at schools and care facilities.

“Communications have been improved to manage public expectations when the most severe conditions arise.

’’We will continue to build on this in the coming winter and encourage more engagement with the local communities to ensure we deliver a robust service.”