By Stuart Maxwell
Another week of the big freeze and it’s seems safe to say that we were not equipped for this. In truth, some faces appear shocked at the intensity of the cold- as if it’s a punishment. Practically though, it’s shut a lot of Glasgow and the UK down; far and wide there are people at homes unable to make it to the venue for the Christmas dinner. Some will be bitter and lonely, others will thank the snow for the get out clause.
PR needs little excuse to punt information about itself and here at LOCAL NEWS we’ve been inundated with snow driven press releases; some useful, some not.
Npower- the energy supplier- sent one with some tips about how to better prepare for such freakish weather assaults. Rather obvious- we should all sign up with Npower for starters but then the advice gets a bit more focused.
The priority is to stay warm says Richard Cotton (try wool rather than cotton?), head of Npowers festive sales team. Explained Richard: ‘Most homeowners will agree that keeping their home warm is a priority during the winter period, but people often don’t even think about it until something goes wrong.’
This is a good point by Richard. That said, he recommends a healthy heating system ( I get the feeling Richard’s saying ‘I told you so’ to the many people who ignored his advice in Autumn). Like humans, the older a heating system is, the more likely it is to fail. So next year, get it serviced before the cold snap and then laugh in warmth at the sound of your neighbours’ chattering teeth.
Richard then sways into commercial territory and casually notes how much cheaper Npower’s heating care is compared to the venerable British Gas. You save £2 a month!
Next on the advice to survive weather list is INSULATION. According to Npower almost half the homes in Glasgow are insufficiently insulated making you colder and more prone to bad moods. In a remarkable twist of fate, Npower also sells insulation. You just can’t make this stuff up.
The last piece of sage advice is GO GREEN. Now, this is a bit paradoxical because everyone’s wanting more heat now so how can we even contemplate saving the planet? Well, the solution lies in your choice of energy supplier. One of the best things about Npower is that it calls its energy ‘juice’, like a tobacco chewing oil tycoon from Texas. Here’s Richard: ‘Npower juice offers customers a greener alternative and a way of reducing their carbon footprint without compromising on warmth or comfort.’ Wow-wee, another Christmas miracle.
Congratulations to PR for finding a way through the snow!
The snow and ice that put a spectacular 200-strong Christmas motorbike gift run to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children on the skids, failed to deter more than three dozen warm hearts who arrived at Yorkhill with a huge haul of gifts.
This year’s festive convoy by bikers from across the Central Belt promised a cavalcade of roaring machines, fancy dress, Santa Claus outfits, tinsel, flags, collection buckets, and loads of presents for the youngsters at the hospital.
However, while the cold snap put paid to the big run, some of the generous bikers were determined to defy the weather and get to Yorkhill with their presents.
Run organiser Ron Deacon, who left his BMW snowed in at home in Milton of Campsie, said: ‘It’s a big event and it’s disappointing that it has ended in this sort of size. We were trying to make it the big run this year because of the Easter Egg Run being cancelled due to roadworks, so it’s a bigger disappointment because we were trying to make it such a success.
‘Still, it’s encouraging that people came out. We can control a lot of things, but we can’t control the weather and we hope it’ll be kinder to us next year.’
Ron, who has been organising Christmas runs for the past four years and also marshals cycling events, explained that at least one rider who make it to Yorkhill had had a fall backing his bike out of the garage on the icy ground.
‘My car went sideways coming here,’ he added. ‘So you can understand that safety is the first factor in anything that we do. I told everybody the run was cancelled but these people braved it.
‘The weather could have changed at any point and I wasn’t willing to take that risk . The last thing I want is for something to happen to anybody.’
Events Fundraiser for the Yorkhill Children’s Foundation, Abigail Stein, said: ‘Some people still come even though the big run was cancelled. They’re absolutely diehard. It’s brilliant that they’re here because every penny and present helps.’
Abigail added: ‘Everything gets distributed. All the money goes to buy all the things the Foundation Funds needs from toys and games to medical equipment and research and development.’
Glasgow remains in the grip of the worst cold snap in more than 30 years, with flurries of snow adding to ice dangers that arrived more than three weeks ago.
Temperatures across Scotland have dropped as low as -20 degrees Celsius while the Glasgow area – which is on the same latitude as Moscow in Russia – has seen measures as low as -9 degrees.
Forecasts for the Strathclyde area from the Met Office suggest the severe cold conditions will continue into late January.
‘The trend from Sunday (17) looks most likely to start cold although there is a signal for the weather turning less cold, especially in the west and southwest,’ the Met Office outlook said.
As snow turns to ice, schools have been hit hard, with many not opening or pupils and teachers struggling to get in through adverse conditions. While closures may delight Scottish children, it has also brought childcare headaches for many working parents.
At Glasgow City Council, crews at Land and Environmental Services are on duty 24 hours. More than 8,000 tonnes of salt were spread on roadways and paths in the space of 10 days.
Councillor David Meikle, who represents Pollokshields, commented: ‘Senior managers are confident that the level of resources being deployed to the winter maintenance service within the city is to a high standard in comparison to other local authorities.
‘Unfortunately, while the city centre is being treated to high standard, residential areas like Pollokshields, Shawlands and Strathbungo are not. I have made my views know to the directors of Land and Environmental Services.’
He warned: ‘Obviously, as a result of the extreme weather conditions, this has had a direct impact on refuse collection services due to restricted access or the presence of ice however resources are also being deployed to assist with this operation to ensure services are maintained.’
Meanwhile, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport has agreed a £435,000 contract with Balvac for waterproofing tunnels on the city’s Subway system.
The section between Kelvinbridge and Hillhead will be treated against ingress of water from the River Kelvin.
Last year, the line between Buchanan Street and St Enoch were successfully treated.
Guy Fawkes night promises to go with a bang, as Drumchapel and West Winterfest returns to Drumchapel Park on Thursday, November 5.
The event is in its fourth year and has proved to be a big draw, pulling crowds from across Glasgow.
Winterfest aims to raise awareness of community groups and sends out a loud safety message over bonfires and fireworks.
The fuse on the big attraction, the Winterfest fireworks display, will be lit at 7pm, but the event is open to the public from 4.45pm and finishes at 9pm.
There will be entertainment from Les McKeown’s Legendary Bay City Rollers, the MacDonald Brothers, Journey South, S-Club 3, No Fixd Abode and Stars of the West.
Winterfest also features a traditional funfair, with all proceeds going to local good causes.
Organiser and City Councillor Paul Carey said: ‘Winterfest has gone from strength to strength, and we can promise a great night of entertainment.
‘We want to encourage local youngsters to attend an organised and safe fireworks event rather than create their own, potentially dangerous, bonfires.
‘The number of unsupervised bonfires in the area has reduced significantly since this event started. That alone makes it worthwhile.’
Revellers are reminded to dress up warm and are asked not to bring fireworks with them to the event.