Hundreds are stranded by weather

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Hundreds of people were stranded in Newton Stewart on Friday night by the severe weather.

And dozens of them were forced to sleep in public buildings as the transport links in the area were overwhelmed.

Among those accommodated in the town was a coachload of children from North Berwick High School, who slept in the McMillan Hall.

Between 30 and 50 people were put up at the Newton Stewart Activity and Resource Centre as social services rallied to help those stuck in the snow.

Local hotels were also filled to capacity as travellers abandoned their journeys.

Social work staff and the police were quick to respond as the McMillan Hall filled up as an emergency relief base and rapidly came to resemble a refugee centre.

The snow caused chaos across the region with numerous road closures and many accidents. And some residents in Galloway were also left without power as a result of the conditions.

Police are advising drivers that the general public should avoid travelling by road if possible. Motorists have been told to expect severe delays of several hours or more.

A police statement issued at Saturday lunchtime said: “Conditions for travel continue to be extremely dangerous across the region. Vehicles caught up in the weather and now abandoned are causing congestion. This in turn restricts emergency recovery or winter maintenance vehicles from providing essential assistance and from clearing roads. Drivers of HGVs should drive with extreme caution and be aware that they may be requested to park at a suitable position by the police.

“Winter driving is a question of common sense and drivers should ask themselves if they really need to travel when conditions are poor. No-one should ever place themselves at risk on the road and it may be worth considering making alternative arrangements such as delaying travel until conditions improve or using public transport. Many roads across Dumfries and Galloway, in particular side or lower class roads, still have large coverings of snow and deep drifts. Winter maintenance crews are working hard to clear roads. However, they are being hampered by abandoned vehicles on some roads.

“If travelling on the roads drivers should ensure they and their vehicles are adequately prepared for the conditions, making sure they have sufficient fuel and supplies such as warm clothing, food and water in the event you are delayed for several hours. Charge mobile phones and plan routes as well as alternative routes. Listen to media broadcasts especially local radio and Traffic Scotland Radio or visit www.trafficscotland.org. For public transport information visit www.travelinescotland.com

A statement from Dumfries and Galloway Council on Sunday said: “Major routes are open to traffic but any side roads off these major routes are likely to be only passable with care or remain impassable.

“Power supplies back on in Cairnryan, Kirkcolm, Leswalt, Lochans, New Luce, Bladnoch, Borgue and Twynholm areas.

“Power supplies still off for Isle of Whithorn, Garlieston, Port William, Sorbie, Whithorn and Drummore.

“Generators supplied to Drummore, Port William, Isle of Whithorn, Whithorn and Sorbie.”