Town is 'cut off' as snow wreaks havoc

COUNCIL Leader David Parker has defended the local authority despite the town being cut off for most of this week after some of the worst snow in three decades.

Speaking to the Hawick News Mr Parker refuted claims that SBC weren't prepared for the severe weather conditions that paralysed the town on Wednesday and left many streets in Hawick stranded under heavy snow.

However, he conceded salt levels were running out rapidly, and with attention focused on keeping the main roads open, back streets and pavements will remain untreated amid further weather warnings for more snow.

He said: "At the beginning of December we had 25,000 tonnes of grit which is the maximum we can hold. On top of that we've been getting deliveries on a regular basis to replenish the stock.

"But we have used all the backlog and we are relying on an operational supply of 1,000 tonnes a day. At the moment it's being rationed and, basically, every day we are using what we get."

On Wednesday, 211 Council workers, 42 lorries, 11 tractors, 14 JCBs and a snow blower worked throughout the Borders to clear the major roads.

However, the shortage of salt is the biggest concern, with the local authority even using gravel as an alternative in some areas.

It is understood the current situation is being compounded by the fact that the conditions are affecting the whole of the UK, with only two salt suppliers to take care of the country. And Mr Parker revealed their supplier in Cleveland, Teeside, on Tuesday, had a three-mile tailback of lorries from councils and private contractors.

He added: "This is the worst winter weather we have experienced since 1981."

The situation has also played havoc with the emergency services although the community spirit which is synonymous with the town has been shining through.

On Wednesday paramedics walked to a man in Silverbuthall who had fallen, and good samaritans Ian Gourlie and Richard Bain took a 101-year-old from her home in Minto Place to the Community Hospital when two ambulances got stuck in the snow.