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Source: Scotland – Highland Council

In a review meeting of the national Strategic Framework yesterday evening (4 November),  Leader of the Highland Council, Margaret Davidson and Chief Executive Donna Manson met with Aileen Campbell, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government to discuss the impact of Tier one on the Highlands.

Cllr  Margaret Davidson said: “The low Covid numbers in Highland are due to very good levels of compliance and also the excellent partnership work across Council, NHS Highland and Police which has succeeded in successfully dealing with  local outbreaks.

“Clarity of message is very important as well as having a logical scientific basis for restrictions to avoid any confusion. The continuing restrictions on household indoor contact is certainly one the hardest issues for people. Household visits are extremely important for people’s mental health and especially so in more rural areas due to lack of opportunities and facilities to meet in hospitality settings. Restricting social contact to within hospitality also has a welfare and financial impact, where people may not have the resources to pay for meals in order to meet within a hospitality setting. We do understand the government’s cautious approach, however, for all the above reasons we are keen to see a lifting of this restriction as soon as possible. People need hope that they can be with families and loved ones, particularly over the festive period.”

She added “Although they can open under level one restrictions, hospitality and other businesses will be impacted by travel restrictions and the continuing uncertainty. We need to do ensure they receive as much support as possible. Our accommodation businesses need to know, can they take bookings from England and level 3 for Christmas and New Year. They feel almost frozen at present with lack of clarity. And we need to get as much financial support into Highland for our tourism and hospitality businesses as we can. Highland is hugely dependent on these businesses and there is a case for additional support for Highland.”

Donna Manson also raised the issue of welfare for parents of young children who are required to self isolate, but do not qualify for the £500 payment. She said: “Where a parent needs to take time off work in such cases, there can be additional financial pressures on families. There are significant concerns across the Highlands about money and jobs. We are keen to do everything we can to support a greater awareness of welfare benefits and money advice available.”

She went on to say: “Due to our rurality and remoteness, very many of our young people have to leave the Highlands for work or study. It is vital for their mental health and for their families, that they are enabled to return home for the festive period and reconnect with their families.” 

Cllr Davidson added: “I am very grateful to have the opportunity to engage with the Minister and provide input from the Highlands to be considered as part of the Government’s decision making.”

MIL OSI United Kingdom