13 October 2023
By Aileen Maclennan
The Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, Councillor Robin Currie, has paid tribute to all those involved in responding to the unprecedented weather that the area has experienced during the last week.
Before starting the Policy and Resources Committee, Councillor Currie said: “I would like to acknowledge all those who have been involved in responding to the unprecedented severe weather that Argyll and Bute has faced over the last few days.
“Along with many others, I cannot remember any previous time when we have experienced weather and disruption of this scale, with some sources quoting the equivalent of one month’s rainfall in one day. The impact of this is well documented and there are few areas across Argyll and Bute, which have not experienced floods or landslides.
“However, what we have also seen, in equal measure to the scale of the impact, is the determination, the will, the spirit to rise up to these challenges, to respond, to resolve, and ultimately to recover.
“Since the rain first hit on Saturday, officers from many different services and council teams have been working round the clock in partnership with other agencies, including the HSCP, Transport Scotland, BEAR, Police Scotland and many others, to take all the actions needed in circumstances like these. Some of them are on the front line, quite literally knee-deep in mud or water in many cases.
“Some of them are helping partner agencies manage road closures and diversions. Keeping people safe first and foremost, and helping them to move forward when and where possible. Some of them are finding ways to ensure that vulnerable people still get the services they need, overcoming the very considerable obstacles that have been put in their way and often at significant personal cost. Some of them are providing support in the background, finding and sharing information, directing queries, and assisting those on the frontline wherever possible.
“All of them are doing this in a very difficult, rapidly changing environment indeed. Close on the heels of the weekend’s amber weather alert and impact came yet more rainfall and weather warnings on Tuesday of this week, adding more strain, and more need to a desperate situation. But again – all of those agencies have continued to rise to the challenge, despite the pressure. Alongside the dedication and commitment of the teams involved on the ground sits the equally tremendous, heart-warming response of our communities.
“To help stranded travellers, they have opened village halls and even their own homes. They have gathered together spare blankets and sleeping bags. They have shared hot drinks and food. They have taken pains to look out for their neighbours, for the sick and elderly in their communities. They have helped to clear mud and debris where floods have caused damage and disruption. The community spirit that Argyll and Bute has shown in the face of challenge is, yet again, beyond compare.
“To all of you – I say a heartfelt thank you. This situation would have been far, far worse without your incredible efforts. We recognise that there has been a very considerable impact on both those who live and who visit our communities, and for the local businesses who are the backbone of the Argyll and Bute economy. Despite that, the determination to roll up sleeves and do what needs to be done has prevailed. Thank you.
“As well as the frontline response, officers are also engaging with the Scottish and UK Governments. The Bellwin scheme, for local authorities facing emergency situations, has now been activated and we welcome this given the considerable costs involved in a situation of this scale.
“The Chief Executive and I have spoken directly with the Scottish Government’s Transport Minister as well as highlighting to the UK Government when we attended the UK Government Islands Forum at the beginning of this week. We will continue this engagement at both political and officer level as a priority.
“Colleagues, you will be aware of the detail of the impact on Argyll and Bute from the regular updates that have been provided to you. I would encourage you also to continue to use the council’s website where there is a dedicated page providing updates as the response continues in this fast-moving situation. The focus of activity will shift in due course to how and when Argyll and Bute gets back to normal. We are also, though, very mindful of the need to look even further ahead – to look at what needs to happen to safeguard longer term resilience. All of this is, and will remain for some time, a priority. Thank you colleagues and we will now move on with the formal agenda for today.”