Page last updated at 18:47 GMT, Monday, 4 January 2010

Ministers deny salt supply crisis

Salt in Aberdeen
More than 4,000 tonnes of salt arrived by ship at Aberdeen harbour

Ministers have insisted there are "very substantial" supplies of salt and grit for Scotland's roads as some councils say they are running low.

Fife Council said it had run out of supplies before several tonnes arrived on Monday afternoon.

In Renfrewshire, only major roads were being treated to conserve stocks and authorities in the Highlands were expecting a salt delivery on Tuesday.

The finance secretary said there were delivery issues but salt was available.

John Swinney said there were "pinch-points" but 18 councils would receive supplies in the next two days.

He said: "There is a lot of supply around, we just have to make sure it is in the right places.

We have been let down quite badly by our supplier
Bob McLellan
Fife Council

"That is why the resilience unit of the Scottish government has collated the information about where salt supplies exist about grit supplies and we will work as best we can to make sure that supply reaches the right parts of Scotland."

The minister said Fife would be receiving 250 tonnes of additional salt and grit supplies.

At one stage on Monday morning Bob McLellan, head of transportation at Fife Council, told the BBC that the council had "virtually no salt left at all".

He said: "We have been let down quite badly by our supplier but having said that the suppliers are having to keep all the councils in the UK happy in very difficult times."

More than 4,000 tonnes of salt arrived by ship at Aberdeen harbour. Twenty lorries will transport the cargo to destinations across the north.

Highland roads authorities said they were expecting a delivery of road salt by ship from Northern Ireland as the fight continues to clear the region's roads.

Councils across Scotland have faced many days of snow and ice

In the Renfrewshire area drivers and residents were advised that gritters were concentrating on main routes in order to preserve their stocks.

Councillor Marie McGurk, convener of Renfrewshire Council's environment and infrastructure policy board, said: "The fact that there appears to be little prospect of an imminent let-up in the freezing conditions means that we have to concentrate on main routes for the time being.

"We will not be in a position to salt minor roads or fill grit bins."

North Lanarkshire Council said salt supplies were low and that it would not be clearing or gritting school car parks and side streets ahead of schools re-opening on Tuesday.

A spokesman added: "It is unlikely side streets will be cleared and school transport will set down on main roads.

"Vehicle access to schools will be difficult and we would ask all road users to be extra cautious."

Scottish Labour transport spokesman Charlie Gordon said: "The Scottish government appears to be saying this morning that everything is under control but the evidence does not support that with many roads and pavements still covered by snow and ice.

"With more freezing temperatures on their way it's vital that the government acts to keep Scotland moving."

Fresh supplies

BBC Scotland contacted local authorities in Scotland to assess the situation.

Aberdeen City Council said supplies were satisfactory and Aberdeenshire Council said grit levels were low, ahead of a new delivery.

Moray Council said it had enough supply for 10 days for its 36 gritters, with another delivery due at Buckie Harbour on Friday.

Shetland Islands Council said fresh supplies were coming in later this week and that it had enough to last until then.

Orkney Islands Council said it was running short of salt and was having to increase the ratio of gravel to salt the gritters are spreading. It has received some salt from Shetland.

East Dunbartonshire said they had enough for two or three days.

Edinburgh, Glasgow and Highland reported no problems with supplies.

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