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Snow heroes show gets cold shoulder

Half of Scotland's education authorities have turned down a government invitation to Edinburgh Castle to honour "snow heroes".

The authorities say that so many of their staff went the extra mile in dealing with the recent severe weather that it would be invidious to single out individuals.

Of the 26 council education departments which responded to an enquiry from The TESS, 15 said they would not be nominating anybody to attend the reception, to be hosted by First Minister Alex Salmond.

"We felt there were too many fabulous people who gave above and beyond in education," a Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said.

An email from the Government, sent to all 32 local authorities in January, stated that, following a return to more normal winter conditions, the First Minister had decided to hold a reception in Edinburgh Castle in March to recognise council employees from all departments who had made an outstanding contribution to coping with the extraordinary weather.

The response from Moray Council was robust. "You get snow and you deal with it and get the job done," one official told The TESS. "Snow is not an unusual occurrence in significant parts of Scotland. The fact that it came as a surprise to central Scotland does not seem to justify having quasi- Oscars."

South Lanarkshire was one of the 11 councils which said it had accepted the invitation. "Many thousands of our employees responded magnificently to the challenges posed by the extreme weather," a spokeswoman said.

Edinburgh, East Dunbartonshire, Fife and Aberdeenshire were also among those putting forward nominees.

The Scottish Government insisted the plans for the reception had not been confirmed. A spokeswoman said: "Following the recent spell of severe weather - and the coldest December on record - officials have been speaking to organisations to assess the idea of thanking people who went the extra mile to help others in their local communities.

"Any decision will be based on feedback from those involved and it will then go to ministers for approval in the normal way."

julia.belgutay@tes.co.uk.

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