Thursday, January 07, 2010

Preparation, preparation, preparation?

Sorry to bang on about the weather ...

... but I'm somewhat frustrated by the increasingly shrill tone of much of the official Council briefing and news releases of the last few days: the general message of 'were doing all we can and trying our best' seems to be repeated ad nauseum?

Well, I do not doubt for one second that the workers on the ground are doing absolutely everything they can - and I've got nothing but admiration for them ... problem is, there's not enough of them and there should have been a much more significant redeployment of staff by now.

What about the contingency plans for such a redeployment over the holiday-period when the help was needed most? To me, it appears such plans just didn't exist and you get a hint of the confusion if you glance back at this 'briefing note' from 30th December 2009 which clearly states:

"However, due to a favourable weather forecast, every effort will be made to grit residential non-main routes by the end of 31st December, 2009."

Really? Few, if any, of the residential streets in my Ward have been gritted and we're now at the 7th January 2010.

The same briefing note goes on to say:

"In order to encourage the use of salt-bins for “self-help” purposes to grit residential footpaths, a full compliment of vehicles have been assigned to refilling salt bins from today."

Really? I've had numerous complaints about salt-bins being empty right throughout the last week.

Yet, whilst formally briefing that all of this was in-hand, on the very same day (30th December 2009) a Met Office public weather service advisor, was saying:

"The weather for Hogmanay evening looks like it will be generally cold and clear.

"With the risk of snow showers affecting the city, there is a possibility that there will be some further snow on the ground.

"Temperatures will be just below freezing but with a brisk north-easterly wind, the chill factor will make it feel bitterly cold - more like -8C.

"I would advise people to ensure they wrap up warm and as untreated surfaces could be icy, sensible footwear would be a good idea."

It just appears to me that all the warning signs were there, and yet sufficient preparation was not made to redeploy enough staff to deal with the impending crisis.

As I said a few days ago, I'm not really expecting anybody to openly admit they've got anything wrong --- but I really do hope that senior figures make sure the right lessons are learned from this whole episode and that much better contingency arrangements (especially for the redeployment of staff over holiday periods) are in place for the future.

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