Aberdeen’s council bosses have warned its winter roads budget will only be able to cope with a mild season despite forecasters predicting this winter could be the coldest in more than three decades.
Aberdeen City Council has set aside more than £1.5 million in preparation for the winter season and stockpiled 9,441 tonnes of salt – which will be topped up regularly.
But a newly-released report to be presented to councillors next week has revealed there is a “high risk” its budget “will only cover costs of a mild winter” and warns extra funds may be needed in the event of high snowfall.
It comes as forecasters have warned temperatures in January and February across the nation could plunge presenting conditions similar to the Beast from the East storm.
The report said: “The expenditure is heavily dependent on actual conditions experienced during the winter.
“It would therefore be prudent to note authorisation may be required for continued expenditure beyond the budget, should the weather be worse than anticipated.”
During budget negotiations earlier this year, the ruling Conservative, Aberdeen Labour and independent administration approved more than £40m of savings – including a £153,000 cut to winter roads maintenance.
However, council leaders have called for more cash from Holyrood to cover the expense – especially as roads like Anderson Drive have now fallen under the authority’s control following the opening of the AWPR.
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Opposition SNP group leader Stephen Flynn hit out at the administration for the cuts to their roads budget.
He said: “The dangers posed by the cold weather are well known but this did not stop the administration from stripping over £150,000 from the budget this year.
“The SNP rejected these cuts and, like everyone living in Aberdeen, we’ll be watching on hoping there is a much more mild winter in store than what has already been predicted.”
However, council operations convener John Wheeler said he was confident measures would be in place to handle the worst of the weather.
He said: “In emergency circumstances there are contingencies in place to make sure the roads are open and usable, I have asked officers this question and have been reassured.
“Perhaps my SNP colleagues could knock on the door of Bute House and ask for money from the Scottish Government to cover the additional costs of road infrastructure.”
Aberdeenshire Council has been warned it may have to dip into its reserves to pay for road maintenance even in the event of a mild winter.
Infrastructure director Stephen Archer said the £4.52m budget falls far short of the funds needed for even a mild winter.