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Ochiltree’s Gritter Gang prepares for winter

Ochiltree’s community resilience group has detailed plans and new gritting equipment in place and ready to go for the start of winter.

Local resident David Reid’s Gritter Gang, which is part of the Ochiltree Community Action Plan, formed earlier this year in response to the prolonged severe winter weather.

David’s neighbours are elderly and he saw that they were struggling to get out of their homes during the severe weather. He said: “When I was young we all worked together and didn’t think anything about clearing the streets of snow and ice for our neighbours. My mum would send us out to clear the streets when we were kids.

“We were a community and all pulled together. That community spirit is coming back to Ochiltree; we now have 20 people in the Gritter Gang, all in different parts of the village and each with their own equipment.

“As part of the Ochiltree and Skares Community Participatory Budgeting event, the community voted for the Gritter Gang to receive £750 of funding to allow us to buy much needed street clearing and gritting equipment for this winter.

“We did a great job last winter and I know we will do an even better job this year with the new equipment.”

Councillor Jim McMahon, Cabinet Member for Older People and Community Safety met some of David’s Gritter Gang with representatives from Outdoor Services and the Ayrshire Roads Alliance, who have both been working to support the local group.

He was also pleased to announce that the community would have access to a snow blower this winter to help them during periods of heavy snow.

Councillor McMahon said: “Ochiltree’s Community Resilience group, the Gritter Gang, is really impressive, every street and every part of the community is involved. They organised themselves last year to help elderly residents and this year they are taking it to a whole new level through Participatory Budgeting and support from the Council and the Ayrshire Roads Alliance, they are ready, willing and very able.

“Back when we were kids, we would be out clearing paths, doing our bit for other people in our communities. This was second nature to us all. Things changed but I am so pleased that community involvement is at the forefront once again. To get out and do your bit to help others, making sure older neighbours are looked after and the pavements are kept clear.

“I really hope that other local groups will look at Ochiltree and think, I want to do my bit too and form their own resilience group. The Council will provide you with support and training to use gritting equipment safely.”

The Gritter Gang and community resilience groups throughout East Ayrshire will be receiving training in the coming weeks on using the gritting equipment that is available from the Council.

Outdoor Services has also converted some of their lawnmowers into snow blowers for pavement use. A number of these machines will be available to community resilience groups that have undergone training, this winter.