INVERCLYDE residents are to be offered a radical solution to the winter blues — local public agencies are to give people the chance to hibernate during January.
They say that the long wet and windy winters this year and last year threaten to drive residents away from the area.
Feedback from public consultation events has shown that people like living in Inverclyde but are increasingly fed up by the dark winter months.
Inverclyde Alliance now believe one solution is to offer the opportunity for locals to miss out January altogether. They have teamed up with innovative firm HiberNation to develop the plan.
HiberNation spokesman May Trix said: “The science of hibernation is ready and waiting – we have just needed a forward-thinking area to embrace it. Inverclyde will pioneer hibernation services for the world. Everywhere else will be caught napping while Inverclyde leads the way in the awakening sleep industry.
“We believe global demand for this exists in many places with miserable winters and that this scheme will not only keep people living in Inverclyde but will also attract new residents from around the world who realise the value of hibernation.”
Ms Trix continued: “Obviously putting hundreds if not thousands of people to sleep for a month could, on the face of it, appear controversial but the precedent is there in nature. Hibernation is a natural thing. Once you think about it a bit more, you start to wonder why we didn’t do it years ago.
“People might think of it as losing a month but all the evidence shows that animals that sleep through the winter enjoy a better quality of life in the months they are awake. We expect that people who hibernate – hibernees as they will be known – will have the same experience. We have done some local market research already and the response has been very positive, in fact, most people have said ‘Can I have February as well?’”
The project – to be known as Inver Kip — is likely to attract cash from the Scottish Government who are viewing it as a money-spinner which could soon be rolled out across the country.
Ms Trix said: “There could be untold health benefits. Hibernees who enter the sleep dependent on cigarettes, alcohol, illegal drugs and soap operas may well emerge from it free of those dependencies, although to encourage participation we are arranging for massive omnibus showings of various TV programmes at the Waterfront Cinema in February.”
Ironically it is one of Inverclyde’s long-running problems – half-empty high schools — that has allowed the district to react so quickly to the situation — the former Wellington Academy and Greenock High school buildings will be converted into hibernation centres containing thousands of berths. A crèche will be provided.
Although plans are well-advanced, HiberNation expect that Inverclyde residents will have to face at least one more complete winter. Those wishing to register for a hibernation berth will only be able to do so from 1 April 2009.