In response to a question in the Scottish Parliament from North East MSP Mike Rumbles, the Transport Minister has refused to ask the Finance Secretary for additional funds in the forthcoming budget to support local authorities struggling to deal with the harsh winter weather.
This comes despite reports in the press this morning that at least five local authorities are already set to overspend their winter maintenance budgets including a £500,000 overspend in Highland and £2.1 million overspend in Aberdeenshire. The Transport Minister was answering questions in the chamber after hundreds of motorists on the M74 were stranded in their cars overnight.
Mr Rumbles said:
"If people cannot get to work the economy suffers. If emergency services cannot get through, then lives are at stake.
"With snow and ice swirling, the demand for council services is extremely high and a number of local authorities are already at the limits of what their resources can provide.
"Faced with hundreds of motorists stranded in their cold cars, the sensible thing for the Transport Minister to do would be to recognise the pressure local authorities are facing and agree to seek additional funds.
"This is essential to ensuring that roads are kept safe and the public can go about their business."