Resilient Scotland gets back to work

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As the majority of Scots return to work today after the festive period, the First Minister has praised the many staff who have worked tirelessly during the holiday period to keep Scotland moving over Christmas and ensure that the Hogmanay celebrations went with a bang.

The Met Office has today confirmed that December 2010 was not only Scotland’s coldest December on record, but also the second coldest month that the country has experienced in 100 years, beaten only by February 1947.

Throughout this severe weather period, the Ministerial Resilience Committee has met 43 times, including on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

In these daily meetings, the First Minister and his Cabinet colleagues have been joined by the key organisations responsible for responding to the severe weather. These include COSLA, Transport Scotland, the Met Office, Scottish Water, SEPA, the Army, ScotRail, Network Rail, VisitScotland, the police and the local Strategic Co-ordinating Groups established under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004.

The co-ordination and monitoring work of the Scottish Government’s Resilience Room (SGoRR) has helped drive multi-agency action to deal with the extraordinary weather conditions by:

* Ensuring decisions and action were taken on the basis of comprehensive, up to date information from all relevant agencies and monitoring problems across the country to ensure a targeted response

* Coordinating and providing clear and up to date information and advice to the public using a range of media, to enable them to cope with the severe weather and make sensible decisions

* Working with local service providers to agree how to minimise disruption to key public services and coordinating military assistance to local agencies

* Working across the UK to ensure coordinated response and mutual support, for example in relation to aviation, rail travel, fuel delivery, salt and water supplies

* Creating a multi-agency transport co-ordination group which co-located in Traffic Scotland HQ during the worst of the weather conditions

* Working with that group to plan and take practical action on salt supplies, traffic diversions, adapting vehicles to clear snow, providing access to blocked and broken down vehicles on dual carriageways, managing HGVs in deteriorating conditions and ensuring welfare kits are available to support stranded motorists

* Securing vital heating fuel supplies to vulnerable customers in the run up to Christmas Day and securing a number of relaxations of haulage driver hours to ensure vital deliveries of food and fuel were able to reach shops and garages

First Minister Alex Salmond said:

“As most of Scotland returns to work and pupils and teachers go back to school, I would like to pay tribute to the thousands of individuals – gritter drivers, Scottish Water engineers, medical staff and many, many others – who have kept spirits up and the nation moving over the past six weeks.

“It has been an extremely busy period but their hard work and dedication has been greatly appreciated. Records are expected to show that last month was not just the coldest December on record, but the second coldest month that the country has experienced in 100 years, beaten only by February 1947. Yes, it brought misery, but it also brought out the best in our community spirit.

“And our efforts extended beyond looking after our own in recent weeks, assisting our neighbours in Northern Ireland in their hour of need. While our decision to run the seasonal flu adverts has been vindicated with improving vaccination take-up rates in recent weeks.

“Throughout this severe weather period, the Ministerial Resilience Committee has met 43 times, including on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Everyone involved has worked together to ensure a co-ordinated response and mutual support, for example in relation to aviation, rail travel, fuel delivery, salt and water supplies.

“To take but one example in the exceptional winter thus far, an unprecedented 400,000 tonnes of salt and grit has been used. However, early ordering means that we now have available 435,000 tonnes, either in stock or on order, to use over the next three months

“We are ready for whatever the rest of the winter may throw at us.”