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Long winter cost council dear

THIS year’s heavy winter did cost Shetland Islands Council an extra £700,000 in clearing around 1,000 kilometres of roads from snow and ice.

The council’s infrastructure committee will hear on Tuesday that their £1.2 million budget for winter services has been overspent by 58 per cent.

December, January and February were the coldest months in the UK for 31 years putting a huge strain on gritter and snow plough drivers.

The average temperature in Shetland during these three months was just 1.51 degrees, just a little bit milder that the winter of 1962/63 when the average was minus 0.18 degrees.

In his report before councillors, network engineer David Macnae, said: “The prolonged cold spell with almost daily snowfalls put a considerable strain on our salt supplies, not to mention gritting operatives.

“The over budget costs of vehicle maintenance largely as a result of increased use, the increased salt costs and the increased labour costs, compounded by the snowfalls over the Christmas shutdown has produced a considerable budget overspend in the region of £700k.”

Following a review the roads services intend to make only slight changes to the way roads are being treated during the next winter.

A consultation process with community councils, schools and road users produced mainly positive responses with many expressions of thanks to the snow plough drivers.

Mr Macnae said: “After an extended period of harsh winter weather, the winter maintenance service has proved its ability to cope with the conditions and deliver the service to an extremely high standard.

“This has only been achieved by stretching manpower and machinery to the limits including a bit of good fortune regarding salt supplies.”