The safety of pupils and parents who walk to school this winter has to be given greater priority by Fife Council gritters in this winter’s icy conditions.
That’s the call from North East Fife SNP MP Stephen Gethins, who was disappointed to hear that many families were left inconvenienced just before Christmas by a relatively late message urging people to delay travelling to school so routes could be urgently treated.
Children at Castlehill Primary School in Cupar were advised on a Monday morning just before the end of last term not to attend school until 10.15am to allow school management and janitorial staff to grit the main routes to ensure children were safe within school grounds.
However, while the school was praised for its actions, several parents contacted Mr Gethins to express concern that many pavements leading to the school had not been gritted by Fife Council despite remaining icy following the weekend cold snap.
He said: “I have asked Fife Council why pavements including Ceres Road, St Michael’s Drive and South Road did not appear to have been gritted.
“I saw for myself how icy it was at Castlehill and the great efforts staff were undertaking to ensure all pupils were safe.
“However, I also met with parents and pupils on their way to school and saw how difficult it was for them to negotiate ice and slush and this is concerning. In one case a constituent told me that he saw an elderly lady slipping and falling over.
“I know there is only so much the council can do but exceptionally wintry conditions over the weekend were indicative of problems on Monday morning and it would be helpful if Fife Council had anticipated this.”
In response to the concerns raised, Derek Crowe, senior manager for roads and transportation, explained: “Key designated routes to schools are part of the priority one route footway network.
“This means they are prioritised for treatment of snow removal over other footway routes.
“Footway treatment teams were called out before 8am on Monday to start treating priority one footways, including the key routes to school.”
Meanwhile, Mr Gethins said he was pleased around 40 grit bins are now in the process of being returned to communities across North East Fife after he raised this with the local authority.
“Thank you to everyone who was in touch, I am pleased Fife Council has recognised the need for bins to be returned to some areas including some of the more rural parts of the constituency not served by gritters,” he commented.