Holiday season brings winter into focus

The October school break always feels like the start of the countdown to winter – and mother nature seems to have read the script, with the stormy weather in recent days.

My thanks go to the response squads who were called into action over the weekend as the fringes of Storm Lorenzo brought localised flooding to the city. As ever, our teams were out in the worst of the conditions to prevent any harm to people or place.

On a related note, we launched the winter maintenance programme this week with the help of the team at Bucksburn – who welcomed quite a gathering of media, who always turn out in force to hear the plans for the months ahead.

Winter maintenance is a hot topic for residents and businesses too – the addition of online gritter tracking this year will be well received I’m sure, not to mention reducing some of the contact we receive from customers when snow and ice bites.

The one-tonne community salt bags are also being organised, part of the drive to help communities help themselves.

I’d like to put on record my appreciation to the 180 or so staff who are primed to start winter duties – they always go above and beyond to keep the city moving and this year will be no different, battling the elements on our behalf.

The Aberdeen Health and Social Care Partnership is also progressing with its winter preparations, with the annual plan approved by the IJB, and I must thank all of the frontline staff in advance for the work they will put in during the peak period that’s looming.

The build-up to the festive period has begun in all walks of life, not least retail as the Christmas rush starts earlier and earlier.

It’s important to acknowledge, particularly in Mental Health Awareness Week, that this time of year does put strain on many people. As the season of goodwill draws nearer, please be mindful of the financial and emotional pressures that always surface at this time of year and look out for colleagues and service users. The care and compassion we show as individuals and teams always leaves an impression on me.

Autumn and winter also brings lots to look forward to, with the plans for our Winter Festival in place and all that entails – from the fireworks display through to the Christmas Village and Hogmanay celebrations. Schools and community groups will be gearing up for carol concerts and pantos, with HMT also ready to welcome thousands to its festive shows.

Before then we have a brief period to catch a breath and prepare for the hectic spell ahead. If you have time booked off I wish you a relaxing break and I pass on my thanks and appreciation to the many who will be keeping council services running right through the October holidays.