It's too snowy and cold to send out gritters, claim council bosses
A FLEET of council gritters were left in their garage as roads were closed because they couldn't handle the cold weather.
Perth and Kinross Council said several gritters had been forced off the roads in an area where temperatures fell to –10C this week.
A spokeswoman said: "The council experienced some technical problems on Tuesday with fuelling, due to extreme weather conditions which temporarily reduced the fleet of gritters."
The council claims the gritters were now working "flat out" to keep the roads open.
It is believed that council bosses had difficulty accessing fuel for the vehicles due to the conditions. Almost half the fleet of gritters was affected.
The revelation provoked fury among motorists and residents fearful of leaving their homes due to the state of the roads.
Ian Thomson, of Muirton Bank, Perth, said: "It is a scandal. I've heard of the rail companies blaming the wrong kind of snow and leaves on the line for disruption, but for the council to say it was too cold to get the gritters out is just ridiculous."
He added: "It is a miracle there have not been more accidents – many roads have been treacherous for days.
"Gritters are intended to be used in extreme weather, that is the whole point of having them. So to say they cannot operate as a result of low temperatures is a complete joke," said Mr Thomson. "Huge parts of Perthshire have effectively come to a standstill. Where were the gritters when we needed them?"
Meanwhile, motorists unable to remove their snowbound cars from streets in Perth had insult added to injury when traffic wardens issued tickets to vehicles trapped because of the roads chaos. One driver said: "It's unbelievable. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed it. I asked one warden what they thought they were doing, and he was embarrassed but said he was just following orders."
It was a freezing start to the New Year across the country, with heavy snow affecting the North-east and Highlands in particular.
A group of passengers spent the night at Inverness airport after snow and ice stopped flights from the city. Dozens of people were stranded and about 16 opted to stay in the terminal, where they saw in the New Year with champagne and pizza.
Continued heavy showers yesterday meant that flights were again suspended.
Heavy and persistent snow showers were again expected to hit Grampian and the Highlands last night, with up to 20cm forecast in some areas and temperatures as low as –15C overnight.
Hundreds of revellers who had gathered on Calton Hill in Edinburgh to watch the Hogmanay fireworks were left struggling to get down the hill after the path froze into sheet ice.
They had to cling on to railings and edge their way down the hill, taking up to 20 minutes to negotiate a few hundred yards.
One reveller said: "You'd think with everybody up there that they'd have gritted the path back down… There were a lot of people slipping and sliding."
The Met Office said the freezing conditions were expected to continue well into next week, with severe frosts and ice on untreated surfaces.
The prolonged snow showers forced the cancellation of today's Highland football derby between Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Ross County in Inverness, on the advice of police.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 12 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: East