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'Snow heroes' efforts praised

10/01/2010

A team of volunteers' efforts to keep services moving through the difficult weather conditions has been praised.

The Community Off-Road Transport Action Group (COTAG) in Moray has been providing logistical support to Meals on Wheels deliveries, NHS Grampian nurses and Moray Council gritters during the recent severe weather.

Through a team of volunteers, the charity aims to provide a round-the-clock transport service when others are fully stretched, getting vital service employees into work.

In the past week, COTAG has delivered Meals on Wheels to the elderly on behalf of the Women's Royal Volunteer Service and transported nurses stuck in their homes to work at Dr Grays Hospital in Elgin. The volunteers have also rescued more than 20 vehicles from snowbound roads in the Grampian region, including a council gritter, and are in regular contact with local police to offer assistance in the only formal agreement of its kind in the UK.

Richard Lochhead Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs said:

"The exceptional weather has brought out the best in people with volunteers dropping everything to help their fellow citizens in their hour of need. Society owes a huge debt to our snow heroes.

"As Scotland is in grip of its harshest winter in decades, we are all faced with the daily challenge of going about our usual business. Across the country this is affecting travel conditions when it is more important than ever to keep our vital services working and deliver essential supplies to our most vulnerable citizens.

"I am hugely impressed with the community off-road action group volunteers, who are giving up their time in extreme and often dangerous conditions, to practically support the work of local emergency, healthcare and other vital services. All these efforts are helping to tackle the problems created by this unusually bad weather and keep Scotland's vital services on the move."

The Community Off-Road Transport Action Group (COTAG) provides 4x4 vehicle response support in times of need to the emergency services, local authorities and charitable groups in the North-East Scotland area.