Linda Fabiani MSP for East Kilbride calls on the residents of East Kilbride to start getting ready for winter as Scottish Government Minister Keith Brown announces Scotland’s first winter preparedness week to be held in October.

The Minister made the announcement as he addressed nearly 200 delegates from Scotland’s emergency services and public, private and transport sectors at a winter planning exercise in Edinburgh today.

Mr Brown stressed that it was too early for the Met Office to say what kind of winter Scotland was facing this year, but that it was incumbent on all organisations responsible for delivering public services and keeping the country moving to “hope for the best but prepare for the worst”.

Mr Brown said “Scotland has now experienced two severe winters in a row, with last year’s becoming the worst in several decades.  We have ensured that we use the lessons learned to improve our services. 

“Extreme weather will inevitably cause disruption but we want to make sure we continue to advance our thinking and procedures and make improvements where possible to ensure we are best equipped to keep that disruption to a minimum. We want to keep people and goods moving, but also ensure that there is clear, coordinated information available. We all have our part to play.

“As well as the transport implications of severe weather, the continued provision of essential services to those who need them most also has to be a top priority.  We will ensure that those who really are in need are brought quickly to the attention of those who can provide assistance.

“Individuals and communities are stronger when they help themselves and help others.  This year we want to provide more encouragement and support for individuals and communities in Scotland to take their own actions to prepare for winter.  So I am pleased to announce the Scottish Government’s ‘Get Ready for Winter’ week, starting 24 October and delivered in partnership with the British Red Cross and a wide range of other organisations.

“The message we will put over is that there are small, inexpensive, and sensible actions that everyone can take meaning they are more resilient at home, in their car, in business and in their neighbourhoods and communities.”

 The focus of the exercise was to identify opportunities for innovation and collaborative working. This builds on existing policies such as last year’s six-point transport plan and the work of the Scottish Salt Group by:

* assessing the effectiveness of current arrangements and improvements put in place as a result of lessons identified from Winter 2010-11.

* raising awareness of new initiatives planned for the forthcoming winter by individual agencies.

* improving existing partnerships and co-ordination arrangements across Scottish agencies and stakeholders.

* improving understanding of the business continuity challenges for essential services.

* identifying additional improvements to public  information in the lead up to Winter 2011/12.

Linda said “we are all beginning to notice the nights are drawing in and the temperature is starting to drop.  It is important that people start thinking about what they can do now incase we have another severe winter.

“I am confident the Scottish Government is taking the best measures to ensure we are prepared however we can all do our part.  Insulating your home is a great way to save energy particularly with fuel prices being so high.  Ensuring your car is serviced and your tyres are in good condition will reduce your chance of an accident on icy roads.

“People should also be aware of family, friends and neighbours who may be vulnerable if we have another bout of heavy snow and think about how they can support them if they are unable to get out and about.

“Simple things like buying an extra tin of soup a week will help you to build an emergency stock cupboard which will save you having to go shopping on days when the weather is treacherous and if we escape the bad weather this year you can then have a feast to celebrate the spring!”

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