I never thought I’d see the day when we’d have traffic gridlock across Bishopbriggs, bustling metropolis it is not. But that’s exactly what we got on Monday morning. It took me an unprecedented two-and-a-half hours to get from the Academy to the Cross, a 1.5mile journey.
Later that afternoon my wife spent seven hours on the M80 negotiating a two mile stretch of road. She was fortunate though in avoiding having to spend the night in the car which befell many people including kids, the elderly and the infirm.
The political opposition have been at their usual shrill best. Calls for resignations abounded with no mention of what they would have done to avoid what happened. Some called for more grit, as if it was a magical substance that heats the streets. Some was put on my street last week and was quickly lost under snow. The white stuff was falling at an unbelievable pace during the morning rush hour. There are only so many ploughs and once traffic has built up, they are not nimble motorbikes in cutting through it all.
Labour spokesman Charlie Gordon said that after seeing the weather forecast late on Sunday night he would have told everyone to stay at home and closed all motorways on Monday morning until the snowploughs had done their work and gritting was thereafter completed. Given the blizzard lasted into the afternoon, this itself would have caused complete chaos as we can safely assume virtually no one would have listened to Mr Gordon and stayed at home. However, all of this is complete bunkum. If Mr Gordon was thinking this he should have issued his own release early on Monday morning to that effect. Even any utterance of any nature any time that day would give him real credibility looking back. 20/20 hindsight after 48 hours doesn’t cut it as fast decisive action.
Communication on the day was bad, which has been acknowledged by transport minister Stewart Stevenson. Even as Mrs Saeed set out from work early to get home in mid-afternoon there was no information about the extent of the problems on the M80. When I heard around 4pm that it was at standstill, there was a sense of watching the proverbial car crash in slow motion and foreboding at what might transpire into the night.
However, there was no information, let alone advice available from authorities on the internet, Twitter or anywhere else about it. As far as I’m aware, that problem on the M80 never made it onto the Traffic Scotland website at all. Local radio were reporting problems with messages about motorways being “closed”, but no indication of what motorists who were on the road were meant to do or expect.
Government and all the agencies involved coordinate and prepare for these kind of emergencies. I've been to detailed excercises that have been held on responses to terrorist incidents, and undoubtedly there would be similarly thought out plans for severe weather. That was sorely tested this week, and we need to build our country's resilience to such conditions.