Scores of volunteers have signed up to help ensure Aberdeenshire’s roads and pavements are safe as the wintry weather continues.
The authority is regularly criticised during spells of severe weather for failing to clear side roads and paths.
However priority is given to maintain main roads and resources are stretched to grit and clear every single area.
In an effort to ease frustration and deal with the problem, Aberdeenshire Council launched a snow warden scheme which gives communities access to a range of resources from grit spreaders to full protective equipment.
As of this month, there are now 27 groups operating in the region, which amounts to 72 volunteers.
But the authority has issued a fresh appeal for more wardens, with the scheme running until April.
Applications are taken throughout the year for the initiative.
Last year, the region endured one of the worst winters in recent memory, with the council forced to go £2million over budget to treat the roads and pavements.
Roads bosses came under fire after towns and villages were left impassable after the traditional surface treatment was left redundant by thawing conditions, rainfall and freezing temperatures overnight.
This year the authority has already used about 23,300 tonnes of salt to treat surfaces since October, with a further 15,000 tonnes in stock and more than 7,000 expected to be delivered this month.
The council has also been trialling a new app which shows people where gritters are in real time and what routes have been dealt with.
The programme is currently only available on phones and tablets as My Aberdeenshire, but is likely to be made available on their website in the future.
There are 32 “primary routes” with 100 council drivers covering these, there have also been 120 farmers and 32 plough contractors on the roads to clear the snow in recent weeks.
For more information on the snow warden scheme visit www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk
By Press and Journal
Peterhead is asking the question of its communities, do you have an idea that would help improve the local environment in Peterhead?
If the answer is yes, then Peterhead Decides Community Choices is an opportunity to
make the idea happen. £20,000 is available to allow residents to decide what landscape or road
maintenance improvements they would like to see in the Peterhead area.
Community Choices is about local people coming together to decide how public money
should be spent in their communities, but basically it looks like this:
1. Ideas are generated about how money should be spent
2. Local people decide on their priorities
3. The ideas with the most support are implemented
Any local community, voluntary, or non–profit organisation, even informal groups or any local resident
who has an idea and is interested in improving the local environment in Peterhead can submit an idea. Projects will then be assessed for feasibility and cost and then the local community will be asked to decide which projects they think will make the biggest improvements and should be implemented in 2019.
So what makes for a good idea?
Ideas can be large or small, whether you want to improve the physical appearance to promote a positive image of the town through increasing the amount of summer bedding plants distributed for planting, improve local paths to make the area more accessible or improve the landscape to help cleanliness.
However, ideas for projects must improve the physical environment of Peterhead, cost under £20,000,
benefit as many people as possible and be delivered by the end of 2019.
Projects like Peterhead Decides are a great opportunity for communities to become involved in their local democracy, and influence decisions that matter to them.
Democracy is always in the making: a never-ending project that requires constant rethinking and development.
Reclaiming and recasting politics and democracy is a core challenge for participatory democrats. The key argument is that citizen participation can reinvigorate democratic life by infusing diversity, experience and knowledge into official decision making. The question is what kind of participation?
In representative democracy, citizens are usually given a thin role in public life, and participation often means casting a ballot every few years, and being occasionally invited to consultations. It seems unsurprising that most citizens don’t grab such opportunities with both hands. Lack of public interest can then be used as an excuse for not supporting citizens to become more involved in governing themselves.
But there are alternative understandings of democracy where participation means direct influence for citizens on the decisions that affect their lives and livelihoods. Why citizen participation? Because our current political systems too often struggle to cope with the pressing issues of our time. We need more problem-solving capacity, better policy and decision making, and new ways of governing. In other words, representative democracy needs a substantial upgrade.
Although there seems to be broad support for democratic principles amongst citizens, there can be mistrust in how current institutions work. Representative democracy can suffer from low turnouts, political disaffection, public cynicism and loss of legitimacy. The answer to the problems of democracy must surely be more democracy, a more meaningful and engaged kind – a participatory democracy, perhaps.
Well-known forms of participation, including volunteering, voting, organising, campaigning and so on, coexist now alongside those that eschew traditional models of organisational affiliation. For instance, many engage passionately on single issues that matter to them, others are political in how they spend their money and time, yet others work to develop new forms of economic life through cooperatives or social enterprises. All forms of participation can contribute to develop a vibrant democracy.
One form of participation being used in Aberdeenshire is participatory budgeting(PB). Following on from PB exercises throughout Aberdeenshire in 2017 and 2018, Peterhead Decides is currently asking the people of Peterhead if they have an idea that would help improve the local environment in Peterhead?
Join us at K and M Communities next week to read more about what Peterhead have been up to!
From December-March, SEPA will be running a reactive communications campaign in response to flooding in Scotland (coastal, river, surface water and snowmelt). SEPA’s Flooding Communications team will monitor the daily Flood Guidance Statements issued by the Scottish Flood Forecasting Service (SFFS), and will seek to activate the campaign when flooding is likely or expected and potential impacts are significant or severe. Upon activating the campaign, key messages will be broadcast on radio and digital channels, and members of the public will be encouraged to visit the Floodline Scotland website where they can sign up to Floodline, SEPA’s public facing flood warning service, and find tips and advice on how to prepare for flooding.
Check your flood risk
– Are you at risk of coastal, river, surface water, snowmelt flooding?
– Does flooding impact you at home, at work, on the road?
Flooding is forecast in your area, plan ahead
– Visit the Floodline website for advice and to register for free flood messages.
– Do you have a plan or flood kit ready?
Floodline can give you advance warning when flooding is expected
– Register online at floodlinescotland.org.uk or by phone on 0345 988 1188.
– You can use your Floodline account to register more than one address, e.g. your property, work or regular travel routes.
How can you get involved?
The aim of the campaign is to provide individuals and communities with advance notice of flooding as well as access to the information they need to be prepared and take action. In order to reach as many members of the public at risk of flooding, we would appreciate your help.
On Twitter and Facebook channels Sepa will share graphics, advice on preparing for flooding, flood alert and flood warning messages. Please retweet or share content on your own social media channels and tag any interested parties who may benefit from this information. For more general awareness raising communications, please feel free to use some of the suggested social media messages below.
Suggested messages for sharing on social media
Dark nights and mornings make it harder to find your way in an emergency. Sign up to Floodline for flood alerts and warnings and keep a torch close by to your bed http://bit.ly/2jPtDrh.
Changed address or phone number? Don’t forget to update your Floodline account with your new
information. Phone Floodline on 0345 988 1188 or update online http://bit.ly/2jMv8qv.
Is your workplace in a flood risk area? Don’t get stranded, plan ahead. Check for alternative routes home and sign up to Floodline for free, advanced flood warning messages sent to your phone
Did you know only 15cm of water can knock you off your feet? During a flood, be sure you stay safe and stay away! Visit Floodline Scotland for more advice on how to protect yourself during a flood
Are you ready for Scotland’s winter? Be prepared for flooding and sign up to Floodline to receive free flood messages direct to your phone http://bit.ly/2jPtDrh.
Over the next few weeks, K & M Communities would like to share with you some advice issued by our partners. This week we’re going to start with advice from the Met Office;
Met Office Weather Ready
The Met Office run an annual public information campaign which is aimed at raising awareness of, and encouraging the public to think about, risks associated with winter weather and the steps they could take to be better prepared.
Since 2011 the ‘Get Ready for Winter’ campaign has been run and implemented by the Met office and Cabinet Office and supported by a range of partner organisations with the same aim – of protecting life and wellbeing, especially during the winter months.
A review held after the 17/18 winter (‘Get Ready for Winter’) campaign indicated the need for some changes to be made, starting with the 18/19 campaign. In brief, the following was agreed upon:
* With snow in March 2018, the name ‘Get Ready for Winter’ felt less appropriate than ever. With this in mind, the name and remit of the campaign will change and will be year-round with a ‘launch’ during the Autumn and increased activity leading up to periods of severe weather.
* Previous campaigns have been purely digital. To reach the vulnerable we need to expand the non-digital content, using partners as the conduit for this information.
Key messages to be shared
* Prepare your property and vehicle ahead of winter, and take responsibility for your own safety.
* Be aware of the latest weather forecasts and warnings from the Met Office and be prepared to alter your plans in times of severe weather. Listen to local radio for updates during times of bad weather.
* Check on the elderly and more vulnerable in your community and check on the safety of your neighbours in the case of an emergency.
Over the past two decades, Britain’s high streets have been in decline as consumer behaviour has changed and economic pressures are causing retailers to close their shops.
The Centre for Future Studies Innovation Centre, at Kent University, sponsored by Anchor, argues that it is the older generations who will be an economic force to be reckoned with in shaping the reinvention of the high street.
It says that it is those retailers who are able to reinvent their businesses who will survive and prosper. The report estimates that over the next ten years almost two-thirds of all retail spending growth will come from those aged over 55. It says that they are going to drive retail with their considerable purchasing power, shopping behaviour and preferences as retailers respond positively to the demand for elderly friendly shopping environments. Read the rest of this entry »
China announced in July that from January 2018, it would no longer be accepting imports of 24 grades of solid waste because high levels of contamination were polluting the country’s environment. Furthermore, from March 2018, other imported materials with contamination levels above 0.5 per cent will also be banned. This is a slight relaxation of the 0.3 per cent originally announced, but it remains an extremely challenging goal. The acceptable level was previously set at 1.5 per cent.
The short notice given by China about this change in policy has been criticised as unreasonable by countries that export large quantities of waste. The EU, the USA, Canada, Australia and Korea have all called for a transition period of up to five years to prevent the collapse of the recycling industry.
Exporting recyclable waste to China has historically been extremely cost effective: firstly, because lower quality materials have been accepted; secondly, because there is a ready supply of cheap labour; and thirdly, because materials are shipped on the return journey by vessels carrying goods from China to Europe, which would otherwise be empty on their journey back to Asia. In the case of paper, a lot of this is used to make cardboard boxes for the goods that are subsequently shipped to Europe. This combination of factors has made it more cost effective to export waste to China than to process it in the UK.
The trade in waste plastic has helped fuel China’s manufacturing boom, but also contributed to the increase in UK local authorities accepting plastic for recycling in the early 2000s. However, many UK-based processing companies were driven out of business because of the Chinese market. As a result, there is now very little domestic capacity for recycling.
So, what does this mean for us?
Scotland is taking a strong stance on this, looking at alternatives to exporting our home-grown waste. A return to glass bottle schemes is being considered, along with investment in reprocessing facilities. Beyond this and other measures being considered, there is a need to go to the root of the problem and reduce our use of plastic.
We are at a watershed moment for the UK’s approach to waste. Many have acknowledged that China is quite right to take a firm stance on ‘foreign garbage’. For too long, the UK and other rich nations have allowed the booming Chinese market to mask the real issues around resource use, as well as turning a blind eye to the dumping of low-grade waste. We must start to see our waste as our responsibility, whether that is at a consumer level, a commercial level or in government.
For more information on Aberdeenshire’s approach to recycling visit http://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/waste/
To find out more about the impact plastics are having on our marine environment go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDDFUZRyoIs