Edinburgh invites army to support snow clearing effort

The Council is in discussions with the Scottish Government and the Army base at Redford Barracks.

The talk are over the possibility of bringing in soldiers as part of the Council's response to the exceptional weather conditions facing the city.

Councillor Robert Aldridge said: "The people of Edinburgh would expect us to do everything to remove the snow from residential streets as quickly as possible, while we continue the vital work of keeping the city's main thoroughfares open. It is not a done-deal but we have to look seriously at this option. If the army is able to help it won't come cheap but we believe it's a price worth paying to bring relief to our communities."

Mark Turley, the Director of Services for Communities, added: "We haven't concluded our discussions yet so none of the details have been firmed up. But I would hope we can move forward with this innovative plan in the next day or so. In submitting our request for assistance I have stressed the extreme circumstances being faced by communities in the south and west of the city, and especially the urgency of ensuring that vulnerable people have access to health and care services."

The Council believes it has already brought in more contractors than any other local authority in Scotland to help deal with the exceptional snowfalls, which are the worst the city has seen in nearly 50 years. Up to 30 inches of snow have fallen in parts of the capital. Despite constant gritting, ploughing and other snow clearing work, by hundreds of staff, fresh heavy snowfall on Monday has set back the Council's 24/7 efforts in the previous week.

Approaches for army assistance need to be channelled through the Scottish Government but the detailed discussions will take place directly between the Council and the Army.

If the plan goes ahead, further details will be confirmed as soon as possible.

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