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Politics: This year has been a challenge to everyone in the north-east

By David Porter

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MSP Gillian Martin
MSP Gillian Martin

The Scottish Government has announced plans to publish a review in to the response to Storm Arwen which affected so many homes and businesses last month.

I’ve been calling for a review since the adverse weather event caused loss of power to thousands of properties in the north-east.

So many constituents, family and friends were impacted by the terrible events of a few weeks ago.

I’m particularly keen to look at the response of energy providers but also how local radio responded too.

When there is heavy snow, we often turn to the radio to hear about school closures and road closures and how the weather will impact us.

During Storm Arwen, people were unable to use their phones and communication for many people was really difficult.

We rely so much on our digital connectivity to gain information now in a way we wouldn’t have previously.

When energy providers were sending messages to constituents, often these were blanket messages which might not have applied wholly through the entire area.

I hope the review takes some of these issues in to consideration so that we can plan more appropriately for weather events like this, which unfortunately may continue to increase, particularly as a result of climate change.

As 2021 comes to an end I would like to say a big thank you to all my constituents.

I think I will speak for many people when I say that 2021 has been as unpredictable and challenging as 2020 – a year in history we had all hoped would be a one-off in our lifetime.

The first few months of the year saw us all spending even more time at home, away from family and friends, juggling home schooling and childcare with full-time jobs.

It is testament to the stoic determination and resilience of people in the north-east and across Scotland that stuck to rules, followed guidance and helped to protect the NHS that meant we got through it.

From my team and me, I would like to say a big thank you to all my constituents who followed the rules tirelessly and made sacrifices to ensure nurses and doctors and other healthcare staff could provide the necessary help to those in need.

I know the emergence of the new Omicron variant makes it feel we have gone back a step from the new normal we were getting used to.

While there continues to be an unknown in how this strain may impact in terms of hospitalisations, we know its ability to spread is going at a fast pace and infections have been rising significantly.

By reducing our social contacts before, during and after Christmas, we can ensure we reduce the chance for the virus to spread.

Taking a lateral flow test before we meet family or friends, wearing a mask, ensuring we wash our hands are all important, simple steps we can take to better protect both ourselves and others.

I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and here’s to a better 2022.

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