From Aberdeenshire Council communications team –
Aberdeenshire Council’s frontline teams have been praised for the role they continue to play in supporting critical services as a result of the ongoing Level 4 Covid-19 restrictions and the recent heavy snowfall.
Services such as waste collection, burials, winter maintenance and emergency road repairs have all continued throughout the pandemic despite the challenges faced at the current time.
Members of staff from Roads, Landscape and Waste Services (RLWS) continue to be redeployed and retrained in a variety of different roles to support some of these core activities including household waste collection, household recycling centres, burials and safety inspections.
Most recently they have been tasked with keeping our roads and footways clear of snow across the region in very challenging and inhospitable conditions.
Responding to snow and floods
Paying tribute to those efforts, Cllr Peter Argyle, chair of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, said: “Each and every one of our staff has demonstrated outstanding levels of teamwork and dedication under difficult circumstances both as a result of the ongoing pandemic and more recently the winter weather and subsequent flooding and that is testament to their resilience and personal character.
“Since the pandemic was declared, teams across Roads, Landscape and Waste Services have demonstrated tremendous resilience in terms of retraining and relocating to undertake new tasks – often at very short notice – and their efforts continue to be hugely appreciated by everyone at Aberdeenshire Council. These redeployments have required them to change holiday plans, work longer hours or change work patterns, commute to new locations, and undergo training in unfamiliar roles.”
In total, around 210 Roads and Landscapes staff have been retrained to assist with waste collection and disposal as and when required, and in an average week around 25 staff will be called upon and redeployed to assist their Waste colleagues.
Clearing the way for vaccination centres
For burials, 89 Roads staff have also received training to support our Landscape Services colleagues along with 47 members of the team who have been trained in burial lair identification and setting out.
Cllr Argyle continued: “The response by our frontline crews during the recent heavy snowfall was nothing short of magnificent and again our thanks go out to them all. Our snowplough and gritter drivers worked long shifts morning, noon and night to keep our roads network open – ably-supported by our Fleet Services who kept our vehicles operational.
”Staff were redeployed to operate every snow-clearing blade we had at our disposal to clear our footways, ensure safe access for those attending Covid vaccination centres and attempt to keep our towns and villages accessible in the face of almost continual snowfall.”
ISC vice-chair Cllr John Cox added: “Our gratitude, of course, is extended to all those farmers and contractors who joined us in what became a real battle to keep our roads and communities open. Likewise, our thanks go to all our dedicated snow wardens and all our residents who demonstrated real resilience and community spirit during one of the worst winters we have had to endure in many a year.
“As temperatures began to rise, we again saw both our staff and communities having to respond rapidly to snowmelt which caused river levels to rise sharply and which resulted in many significant cases of flooding across Aberdeenshire. To all our staff who were quickly on hand to fill additional sandbags in key locations and to all our partners and resilience teams who stepped up to support our communities, our thanks again go to each and every one of you.”
Director of Infrastructure Services Alan Wood said: “During the past we have seen our core services put under considerable pressure and we would not have been in a position to keep them functioning successfully were it not for our dedicated workforce. The transition from frontline staff undertaking regular roles to supporting colleagues in different jobs and locations was quick, well-executed and a great success. You have my sincere thanks for everything you have achieved.”
Head of Roads, Landscape and Waste Services, Philip McKay, added: “The pandemic has impacted on every aspect of the Roads, Landscape and Waste Service. Changes in operating practices have been necessary to ensure that key activities could continue. Colleagues across the service have risen to the challenge of each and every one of these changes and for that I thank them all.
“These changes have also had impacts on our communities with services on the ground markedly different from the pre-Covid norm. On the whole, our communities have demonstrated understanding and patience with us. That is very much-appreciated and I would like to assure everyone that we are doing all we can to deliver as much as we can within the current restrictions.
“Finally, I would like to thank everyone – no matter their role – in the response to the recent weather events. The period of snow we experienced is not normal and perhaps the worst for many a year. Colleagues, our contractors and, of course, our communities all worked extremely hard to get roads and pavement open again. It was a real testament to that partnership approach.
“Unfortunately, rapid snow melt and rain added to the impact and again everyone worked together to protect communities and assist the vulnerable. I would like to offer my sincere thanks to everyone involved.”