Ice warnings: Travel only 'if necessary'

15 December 2018, 07:25 | Updated: 15 December 2018, 07:29

Oxford snow plough

Scotland is braced for snow and freezing rain, with the wintry conditions expected to hit transport and high street spending this weekend.

People are being urged to travel only if necessary as an icy blast prepares to sweep the country.

The Met Office has issued an amber warning for ice for the central belt, Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, southern parts of Tayside and Fife until Sunday morning.

An amber warning for snow is also in place across Stirlingshire, Perthshire, parts of Grampian and the southern Highlands.

The alert comes as many people are set to head out for festive shopping and parties in the run-up to Christmas.

Following a meeting of the Scottish Government's Resilience Room on Friday, Transport Minister Michael Matheson said delays and cancellations on public transport were possible.

There could also be interruptions to power supplies and telephone networks, and some rural communities may find themselves cut off.

Mr Matheson said: "I would encourage people in the affected areas to consider whether they need to make their journey.

"If they do, they should expect disruption.

"Drivers should plan their routes, leave plenty of time, follow Police Scotland travel advice and drive to the conditions."

Superintendent Louise Blakelock, deputy head of road policing for Police Scotland, said: "Freezing rain is highly unusual and is expected to result in the rapid development of widespread ice, which will lead to dangerous travelling conditions.

"I appreciate that many people will be planning Christmas shopping trips this weekend and have festive social events planned with family and friends, however, if you do travel, you are likely to experience significant delays.

"Congestion caused by all vehicles may restrict the emergency services, recovery vehicles, gritters and snowploughs from providing essential assistance or from clearing roads."

Health bosses in Glasgow have meanwhile urged people to wear warm clothing and appropriate footwear if they are venturing out.

Hospitals experienced a surge of patients requiring X-rays and treatment after slips and falls following an overnight freeze on December 4.