RED HOT TOPIC OF ICE COLD STREETS

CALLS for Angus Council to try to ensure pavements leading to Forfar's schools are cleared of snow as soon as possible were made at this month's meeting of Forfar Community Council.

The meeting heard pupils walking to Whitehills Primary School were forced to walk along the busy Montrose Road, whilst those trying to get to and from Strathmore Primary School were forced to walk on St James Road.

Other "hot spots" in the town were identified and, whilst members praised the workmen who had worked long hours to clear the town centre, they questioned those who made the decisions as to which areas were cleared, and when.

Addressing the meeting chairman Mrs Isobel Ross said her phone had been "red hot" with people complaining about the state of the pavements during the recent white-out conditions.

One lady had telephoned her that day to complain that the pavement on St James Road from Strathmore Primary School to Gallowshade Road was "ice bound".

Mrs Ross said: "The children are walking on the road. I'm not blaming the workmen, they have done a great job and are doing what they are told, but there does not seem to be a plan of action. Where are the priority routes?

"We will be getting in touch with the director of roads to find this out and possibly add in our own ideas.

"I have great admiration for the people that did the job; for social care staff who did not let anybody down; for the Salvation Army, they all worked their socks off to get to people to make sure they were safe, they had food and they were warm.

"Members of the public carried out snow clearing in the area and looked after their neighbours - everyone did a great job.

"But we didn't have that much snow and we are still "ice-breaking" on pavements."

Members listed areas which were particularly treacherous under-foot including Coutties Wynd, Green Street, Lilybank Crescent, Dundee Loan, Dundee Road and Kings Road.

Mrs Ross continued: "Why were the link streets not done?"

Angus Councillor Glennis Middleton stated she had had more phone calls than ever, some of them "quite abusive", and anonymous letters about the streets not being clear.

She said: "Can I make it perfectly clear that people who are not happy with what is being done should take their complaints to the administration councillors because I have done my damndest.

"I have had issues along the Montrose Road where they cleared the road and not the pavement. I stood at my kitchen window in horror as children walked on the Montrose Road to school, in the dark, in dark clothing, with people pushing buggies because they had to be on the road because there was no pavement to walk on.

"I was told the priorities were to keep the main arteries clear."

She, too, praised all those who had worked hard to keep the roads clear, from those ploughing, gritting, digging to the girls in the Access office dealing with calls.

She added: "Many people in Forfar have played their part and I thank them from the bottom of my heart. But I have to say to the officers concerned - why would you clear the main arteries and not clear the car parks, because we now have a situation where cars are abandoned everywhere?

"I know the contractors cannot be everywhere. There was a phenomenal amount of snow in a relatively short period. However, we have not had snow for a week and we have created another problem because there are now mounds of snow everywhere.

"I am asking for them to be removed because, if we get more snow, we will have nowhere to put it because the mounds of snow are in the way!"

Councillor Middleton had attended a full meeting of Angus Council prior to the community council meeting and had been informed of the financial implications of the harsh winter conditions.

She said: "We were given an up-date on the winter maintenance situation and, to date, we are some "640 odd thousand" over budget. That means that if we have no more snow then that is manageable. If we have much more snow, and if we have to bring out other contractors, then that will be a very serious situation.

"As a councillor I understand that, but last week when I was given an update at the corporate service committee, I was told health and safety came first, that the budget would be managed and that it would not be a restrictive budget in terms of what has to be done. I was also told no contractors would be stood down."

However, she added that was not the case with reports of contractors being stood down twice during the last week.

She added: "I understand the council is trying to control the budget, but my worry is they are being penny wise and pound foolish."

She praised all those who had "done their bit" to clear the snow but added it was an "urban myth" that those who clear the pavements, including householders and shop-keepers, could be sued if someone slipped on the pavement.