Lucky escape as weight of snow wrecks garage roof

WORKERS at a city garage had a lucky escape after its roof collapsed under the weight of the snow just a few hours before they were due to start work.

The roof of Dalziel's Garage in Leith came down in the early hours of yesterday morning, damaging the six cars inside.

It is likely that the Pitt Street garage, which offers repairs and servicing, will have to be demolished as a result of the extensive damage.

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It came as temperatures across Edinburgh and the Lothians plummeted further and city council chiefs confirmed emergency food parcels were being prepared for the city's most vulnerable.

The Met Office said its weather station at Gogarbank measured a low of -15C last night, while police said a monitor on one of their vehicles had detected temperatures of -22C in Blackburn, West Lothian.

The council said it had brought in an extra 100 contract workers to help clear the streets, with around 600 tonnes of salt now being used every day.

The most dramatic incident was at the Leith garage where the roof which was re-strengthened around a year ago. It is thought to have collapsed at around 4am, less than four hours before managing director John Goodlad arrived for work.

He said: "I opened the door this morning at half seven to find the roof had fallen down. Thankfully, there was nobody on the premises at the time."

A Land Rover, Audi, Renault Megane and Peugeot were among the damaged cars. A van, also parked inside, received minor damage.

Garage owner Iain Scott, 63, added: "It's almost impossible to say if the cars can be repaired until we get the roof off them. Some of the older cars probably won't be. There will be a demolition order on the building."

On St John's Road, Corstorphine, police cordoned off part of the street amid fears over guttering in danger of collapse.

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On Easter Road, Stuart Morrison, 23, was on his way to work at around 1.30pm yesterday when a section of guttering from a block of flats collapsed under the weight of the snow.

Mr Morrison said: "I just heard the cracking noise of part of the roof breaking. I just got out the way."

St Leonard's police station was also cordoned off amid fears that snow on the roof could fall and strike passers-by.

As the Scottish Pensioners' Forum said one in five Scottish pensioners were at risk of being unable to cope, the city council said emergency food parcels were being prepared for the most vulnerable. They will be available for "those who are assessed as having an urgent need and are unable to get to their local shops or don't have family or neighbours who can help".

The parcels will contain items such as UHT milk, tinned vegetables and fruit, teabags, biscuits and other essential goods, and are coming from the Tesco in Colinton. Council staff are helping out with deliveries while volunteers are also on standby from the Red Cross.

Edinburgh Airport was open this morning, with passengers advised to check with their airlines before travelling. However, passengers were stuck on the runway for more than 90 minutes last night after snow delays left the airport "full".

The EasyJet flight from Dublin International landed ahead of schedule at 7.10pm, but passengers were kept on the plane until 8.40pm, and were told by staff that the airport "wasn't ready for them".

A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said the delays caused by the heavy snow meant that berths for planes were full.

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He said: "We have to wait until we are able to clear a berth before we can move another plane in and allow passengers to disembark."

Police transported prisoners to court on Wednesday after custody firm Reliance was unable to get its vehicles out of its West Lothian depot.

More than half of primaries were set to reopen today while all secondary schools were due to be open for at least some year groups.

City education leader Councillor Marilyne MacLaren said: "The assumption is that schools will open unless there are overwhelming reasons not to."

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