Still in winter’s grip

team of 2009-2010 three  out of five residents at Turnbull Court
team of 2009-2010 three out of five residents at Turnbull Court

ALTHOUGH fortunately there hasn’t been a repeat of the continuous heavy snowfall of last week, the early onset of an incredibly harsh winter is still causing problems in Berwickshire.

People are still waking up to snow in their gardens, on their cars, on footpaths and on roads, meaning that getting out and about is still proving a big ask for many.

Pictured are the elderly residents of Turnbull Court who, left dis-satisfied by the efforts of Scottish Borders Council workers, set about clearing the snow themselves.

One resident who is particularly disappointed by the work done by council staff is Joyce Richardson, who said on a number of days last week, SBC workers coming to the sheltered housing development had been “a waste of time.”

She told ‘The Berwickshire News’ that on Monday, November 29, the snow at Turnbull Court in Duns measured 17 inches and feeling let down by SBC, residents set about digging themselves out.

She said: “Even though we are unable to do the work ourselves to clear the snow we have tried our best.

“One of the gentlemen who lives here managed to clear the car park when we had all the snow last year but this year he just hasn’t been able to..

“One day last week two council vans were sent in with six men. They must have only stayed for about 10 minutes and only two seemed to be doing any work. I hope they feel guilty.”

The situation at Turnbull Court got more serious on Thursday, December 2 when an ambulance struggled to get in because of all the snow.

Mrs Richardson added: “A tractor halfway up the road cleared a parking space but then went away and didn’t bother to clear the road for the ambulance. I felt so angry and that’s why I contacted ‘The Berwickshire News’.”

Responding to Mrs Richardson’s concerns, a spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council said that council workers were trying their best to clear as many routes as possible, but some had to take priority over others.

They commented: “In these extreme weather conditions, Council staff are working around the clock to treat as many roads and footpaths as possible. Due to the severity of the weather, it is impossible for all roads and footpaths to be kept clear at all times so we are asking for members of the public to help where possible by clearing access to their own properties and by helping any friends, relatives or neighbours who may be less able.”

The efforts of Scottish Borders Council staff have been praised by Mid-Berwickshire Councillor Frances Renton who said they were doing their best during a particularly difficult time.

Speaking to ‘The Berwickshire News’ she said: “I would like to extend my thanks to all SBC staff who over the past week have once again went that extra mile to clear the streets and pavements, and also to the Social Work staff who have also done a great job in getting to their clients in sometimes appalling weather conditions.

“There was an enormous push over the weekend to get pathways cleared to allow the children who walk to school to get there safely when they reopened on Monday. As I was out and about in Duns on Saturday and Sunday there was a good community spirit and the public where being very patient and understanding when some of the roads were blocked to allow the staff and contractors to clear the snow.”

For the second week running NHS Borders staff have also been praised for pulling out all the stops to ensure essential services continue to operate.

Calum Campbell, Chief Executive of NHS Borders said: “Despite the difficult conditions, NHS Borders staff are making exceptional efforts in getting to their usual place of work, or identifying an alternative way of working.

“We are working round the clock to arrange transport to health facilities for essential staff. However I know many staff are wrapping up and walking to work wherever possible.

“A number of nursing staff and GPs are using tractors and 4x4s to get to work or visit patients. We are also working closely with partner agencies such as the Scottish Ambulance Service, Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue, and the Red Cross to transport patients in what are some very extreme weather conditions. Everyone is working together and doing whatever needs to be done.

“It is inspiring to see people throughout the Borders come together to support and help each other though this difficult time.”