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The Scottish Office is ready to consider 'sympathetically' applications from authorities - where the relevant crite...
The Scottish Office is ready to consider 'sympathetically' applications from authorities - where the relevant criteria have been met - to compensate for the recent bad weather.

For local authorities, exceptional assistance is available via the Bellwin Scheme to cover certain well defined circumstances, the Scottish secretary said. Grants can be made available to help with costs incurred in providing relief and carrying out immediate works.

In a statement to the Commons today in response to a question seeking his assessment of the performance of local authorities in Scotland, Mr Forsyth said:

'I am happy to pay tribute to the dedication of all of the staff of local authorities, electricity and gas companies and emergency services who coped superbly with a very difficult combination of weather over the holiday period.

'The response of the various service authorities to these problems was very good. Contingency plans proved fully effective and the effort put into emergency planning by authorities in recent years paid off. I and my ministerial colleagues can confirm this at first hand from our visits and discussions with staff concerned.'

Lessons for the future have to be drawn from such events, Mr Forsyth said. He announced the establishment of a working party to look for these lessons - 'not to look for scapegoats nor carry out a whitewash but to learn practical lessons.' Representatives of agencies involved will be invited to participate.

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