We now know that 500 or so people attended A&E during December after slipping on icy footpaths in Edinburgh. We could probably estimate the cost of this to our stressed Ambulance Service, NHS and Social Care system, but the human cost is incalculable.
The seriousness of this situation is why all 61 Councillors (2 Councillors from one party were absent) present at Full Council last week backed a call to review the system currently used to keep our footpaths, roads and cycle-paths free of ice and snow. The clear message is that the status quo is not good enough for Scotland’s capital city and that residents are right to feel angry.
The solutions brought forward by the review are likely to include a mix of using existing resources better, investing in new technology and making a wider pool of Council staff available to keep the streets safe.
Cutting across this, I hope to see far greater priority given to higher lying areas (e.g. Fairmilehead, Colinton, Oxgangs, Bonaly & Balerno) and also communities which have high proportions of older residents.
Indeed, it breaks my heart to hear stories of older people “trapped” at home waiting for snow to melt. They helped make our city what it is today, so deserve greater respect from the rest of us.
I shall also be arguing that communities be given the resources they need to be more resilient. I’d like to encourage more people and businesses to return to the tradition of clearing the path outside their house, and perhaps even that of an elderly neighbour. Of course, to do that we’ll have to make sure grit bins are serviceable and kept full. Ensuring we have the resources to do that alone would be a great starting point.