Fresh food and fuel in short supply

FUEL supplies are running out across Edinburgh as the big freeze stops deliveries from getting through to the city.

The Capital's filling stations and supermarkets have reported running low, with some already out of diesel.

Supplies of unleaded are also drying up, with one filling station warning that it only had enough to last until this morning. Shops and supermarkets have warned of delays in getting fresh products like bread and milk on the shelves.

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It comes as the city endures what is now the worst snowfall since 1963.

Police were called to Edinburgh Airport when passengers refused to leave a cancelled flight and the council has been swamped with complaints about the snow-cleaning operation.

Met Office forecasters today said the worst of the snowfall was almost over. The cold is set to stay, however, with overnight temperatures tonight dropping to -8C in Edinburgh and -14C in the Pentlands.

The weather continued to play havoc with transport services, with no trains this morning from Edinburgh to Glasgow Central, Dunbar, Bathgate or Dundee, and a reduced service on other routes.

Airport bosses were hoping to reopen the runway by noon.With up to 20 inches of snow falling over a four-day period, city chiefs insist they are doing their best and have employed private firms to help clear roads and pavements.

The petrol shortage has happened because supplies from the Grangemouth refinery are running at just 20 per cent of normal levels.

In a statement, BP said: "Deliveries have been severely impacted by the bad weather, with only safe and essential deliveries being made.

"Most of the deliveries that are getting out are in the Glasgow area where access is better than in the rest of the region."

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Meanwhile, staff at Scotmid on Leith Walk said they had problems with "all deliveries".

A spokesman for Scotmid said that customers should "keep checking their stores" for items that were in low supply.

Tesco also said supply levels could not be guaranteed, while Sainsbury's stores reported delays to fresh produce.

Private contractors with JCBs were being used to supplement the 75 road staff, 180 task force staff and 90 refuse staff already working.

Cllr Robert Aldridge, the city's environment leader, said: "I would like to send out a big thanks to all staff who have been working flat out to help keep Edinburgh moving.

"The public can do their bit to help clear drives and pavements and to keep a look out for their elderly neighbours."

But Cllr Ricky Henderson, whose Pentland Hills ward has been badly hit by the snow, said the council had been slow to act. He said: "Tackling the problem in my ward could take several days but it is encouraging that something is being done."

There was misery for thousands of air passengers after Edinburgh Airport cancelled flights. It came as police had to eject a handful of passengers who refused to leave a Ryanair flight for Malaga which was cancelled yesterday morning after spending more than two hours on the tarmac.

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Meanwhile, Kevin Brown, the airport's chief executive, hit back at suggestions the airport had been unprepared.

He said: "Edinburgh Airport is better prepared than it ever has been. We invested over 1 million in equipment this year and have trained teams to clear the runway when necessary."

It was also confirmed that all schools in West, East and Midlothian would be closed for the rest of the week.

Help city's 'Dunkirk spirit' shine through

WITH Edinburgh in the grip of the worst snowfall for almost 50 years, the Evening News is today urging everyone to do their bit to help beat the cold snap.

With our "S'No Bother" drive, we hope everyone will dig deep to help out their neighbours. Politicians, workers stuck at home, children and the army have already contributed to what some are calling Edinburgh's "Dunkirk spirit".

River City's Allison McKenzie helped snow sweepers outside the Lyceum, while the Federation of Small Businesses has linked up with local authorities to supply workers who cannot get to their normal job. Staff from at least 15 companies will help councils with sweeping, shovelling and gritting.

Edinburgh's health and social care leader Councillor Paul Edie helped clear snow from Fords Road Care Home in Chesser while Colinton/Fairmilehead councillor Jason Rust secured the soldiers from the fire support group of 3 Rifles in Redford Barracks to help ensure deliveries and emergency vehicles could get into the Old Farm Court care home.

Liam McConnell, six, and Lawson McConnell, seven, and eight-year-olds Derry McConnell and Connor Shaw raised money for charity Shelter by shovelling snow from neighbours' gardens.

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• TWO community centre staff walked miles in the snow from Fife to South Queensferry to ensure they did not miss work. The staff at Rosebery Hall made it in from Rosyth and Dalgety Bay.


THE snowfall over the past few days has been the worst since 1963.

That winter, known as The Big Freeze of 1963, was one of the coldest on record in the UK, with temperatures hitting -16.

It was also the year Hearts lifted the League Cup, the Beatles had a Christmas No1 with I Want to Hold Your Hand, and a pint of milk cost six and a half old pence.

Ski centre enjoys bumper boost as drivers warned

DRIVERS are being warned not to set off with snow on their roofs as the cold weather continues.

A Lothian and Borders Police spokeswoman said: "If snow falls down it could cause a crash. It might take a hard-nosed cop to fine someone, but it is an option."

While it might be an inconvenience for drivers, the snow has brought a bumper week for cash-strapped Midlothian Snowsports Centre at Hillend. The centre has had some of its busiest weekdays ever, according to manager Andrew Goulbourne. He said: "It's been fantastic. We've been getting a lot of parents bringing their kids."

Mr Goulbourne said that the access road was now "clearer than last winter".