Big winter clear-up gets under way as Army to be brought in

The big winter clear-up was set to get under way today as council chiefs brought in temporary skips to deal with the city's overflowing bins and the Army prepared to hit the streets.

As the freezing weather continues and the rubbish mounts up, the skips are being positioned across the city in locations such as supermarket car parks, schools and leisure centres.

Up to 70 of the skips - which will be emptied daily - will be rolled out by the end of the week, with the first 18 hitting the streets today.

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Meanwhile, talks are continuing between the Army, the Scottish Government and the council about using the military to help tackle the big freeze.

Under the plans revealed in yesterday's News, soldiers will be used to help the city's most vulnerable residents by ensuring they are able to get to and from their homes. They will also help to clear vital locations, such as doctors' surgeries, care homes and hospitals.

City leaders have come under fire for being slow to respond to the winter blast, but environment leader Councillor Robert Aldridge again insisted the council was doing all it could.

He said: "Edinburgh is the first authority in Scotland to seek help from the military to ensure our most vulnerable residents get the support they need to ensure access to hospital and emergency services.

"In these special cases, identified by the council, soldiers will be working hard to make sure these people get the treatment they need.

"Our own staff will continue to carry out snow clearance and gritting to keep the city moving."

As well as using the temporary skips, residents are also being told to use their brown garden waste bins for household waste until the rubbish collections start again.

Bin men have been operating a "limited service" since the severe weather started, making some collections in the city centre and on main roads, as well as clearing rubbish left on the street. However, just 250 tonnes of waste was collected from city streets on Tuesday, compared to around 400 tonnes on a normal day.

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Cllr Aldridge added: "The refuse service will be back to scheduled collections as soon as there is a thaw or the snow is cleared, but, in the meantime, we are asking the public to use these alternative arrangements to manage household waste.

"At the start of this current extreme weather spell we made every effort to empty bins.

"However, the deep snow, allied to hazardous conditions in some areas, prevented refuse collection vehicles getting into streets.

"I would like to thank residents for their patience and can assure them we are doing everything that we can to manage the situation."

Just three primary schools in Edinburgh were expected to remain closed today, while all high schools were due to be open to all pupils, except Liberton High, which was expected to be only open for S3-6 pupils.

Ratho has remained closed due to access issues, while Prestonfield has been forced to stay shut due to snow lying on top of a glass roof.

Prestonfield parent Rachel Budge said she and other parents have had to take turns at looking after each other's children to reduce the amount of time they are taking off work.

She said: "We are becoming increasingly angry about the lack of communication from the school as to why it is closed.

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"Obviously the present weather is not going to disappear overnight, and if the problems in the school cannot be solved soon, then surely some other arrangement is going to have to be put in place so our children can get back to school and we can get back to work."

Murrayburn Primary in Sighthill has also been closed for health and safety reasons after it was discovered that the snow had damaged guttering.

Carol Swan, chair of the parent council at Murrayburn Primary, said: "Obviously people are getting a bit fed-up, but we can't put children in danger.

"People are having to get babysitters, so it's quite difficult for the working parents."

Meanwhile, "irresponsible" skiers and snowboarders in Holyrood Park have been accused of putting themselves and others at risk. Historic Scotland said skiers had launched themselves off the Radical Road into the way of other members of the public and oncoming traffic.

Elsewhere, a critically-ill heart patient had to be airlifted to hospital after their ambulance crashed on black ice near the Forth Road Bridge.

One of the crew also needed treatment for neck injuries after the vehicle hit a central reservation on the M90 near to Kirkliston at around 1.30pm.

Good neighbours step out

THE Army came to the rescue of a bed-ridden 90-year-old by helping carers access her property.

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The woman in Colinton was becoming increasingly isolated as conditions worsened, jeopardising the five essential visits she must receive every day.

As well as the hazardous conditions underfoot, clumps of snow were falling from her roof, blocking the entrance to her home on Spylaw Park.

Major Hadfield, commanding officer of B Company 3rd Rifles, based at nearby Redford Barracks, sent a group of men out on Tuesday to remove the snow and ice, and they even helped clear the paths and steps of neighbours in the area.

One resident said: "On behalf of all our residents in Spylaw Park, I would like to express our gratitude for this very helpful and kind community action."

In the north of the city dedicated carers Jayne Easson and Cathy Anderson waded for almost a mile through thick snow, carrying heavy equipment, to reach an 80-year-old man who had been reported wandering in freezing temperatures in a disorientated state.

The duo abandoned their car on snowy terrain in the Bughtlin area when it became clear they could go no further. The man, who was dressed inappropriately for the weather, was located and returned to his home - which the community alarm service team had made safe - two hours later.

Meanwhile, Dalkeith volunteers Greg Thomson, Peter Scott and David Dunn began shovelling at first light to clear access ways and footpaths to schools.

Where to find skips

Skips which will be in place from today. Details of others will follow in the Evening News.


• Kirkliston Leisure Centre - Car Park

• Burgess Road Depot - Front car park

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• Gamekeepers Road approx half way up north side in parking bay

• Former Somerfield Car Park, Bughtlin Market

• Drumbrae Leisure Centre car park

• Silverknowes Golf Club car park

• Hillwood Road, Ratho Station, car park at play park

• Gateside Road, large footway at left hand side of entrance

• South Queensferry High School/Leisure Centre car park


• Iceland Car Park,

• Ferniehill Drive

• Cameron Toll Shopping Centre


• Bridge Street Car Park - Next to Adelphi place

• Marionville Road - Old

• Kwik Fit car park

• Peffermill Court,

• Craigmillar Castle Gardens

• Greendykes Road, Greendykes Drive

• Musselburgh Road, Joppa Toilets

• Newcraighall, Park & Ride

• Duddingston Park South, Miners Welfare Car Park