Calls to ease lockdown for housing and fishing industries

Homes for Scotland and the SGA Fishing Group ask Scottish Government ministers to lift restrictions around their industries.

The Scottish Government has been urged to follow England in easing lockdown for the housing and leisure sectors, to help boost the economy.

Homes for Scotland (HFS) and the SGA Fishing Group have both written to Scottish Government ministers asking for restrictions around their industries to be lifted, in light of similar changes south of the border.

In a letter to Nicola Sturgeon, HFS said a survey of members showed 65% believed they could only sustain themselves for two or three months in lockdown, when it was first announced.

This has now risen to 75%, with HFS saying it is now seeing “worrying signs” about potential redundancies and business failures.

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The letter, from HFS chief executive Nicola Barclay, added: “In the affordable homes sector, we have already seen the unfortunate demise of the new homes contractor CBC.

“The Scottish Government’s recently announced short-term loan facility for SME home builders is welcomed and will provide a lifeline for many.

“There is no escaping the fact, however, that they need to be building and selling homes and delivering affordable homes to RSLs and councils in order to survive in the long term.

“There are also real concerns about mortgage offers running out, and lenders withdrawing previously available products.”

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She added: “Our industry contributes significantly to Scotland’s social and economic wellbeing and we are ready and willing to re-open safely with additional measures in place to help protect our employees and customers, while also supporting the struggling economy.”

Meanwhile, the SGA Fishing Group has said £135m is being kept from the Scottish economy as the lockdown stymies the salmon fishing industry.

Robert White, group member and fishing ghillie, is asking that Scotland be allowed to reopen rivers for angling, as has happened in England.

He said: “Obviously, public health remains the primary concern for everyone.

“We believe there are some straightforward conditions which could be met now which would allow some local anglers to get back out onto riverbanks in their area, while still following government guidance.

“Angling is relatively solitary. It has known physical and mental health benefits. It would also allow some fisheries to get at least some income in, too.”

Group ambassador Charlie Whelan added: “The bulk of fishery income at the height of the season comes from visiting anglers from elsewhere and overseas, often staying in accommodation and guided by a ghillie.

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“We are aware the country is some way from that. Our proposals relate more to an initial phase and getting local anglers back out in a safe manner which doesn’t pose a health risk to others.”

Planning minister Kevin Stewart said: “We share the ambition of business to get back to work as soon as possible, but this must be done with public health and safety as the first priority.

“To support this ambition I am chairing a series of meetings of the Construction Leadership Forum and a weekly Restart Group.

“Through the Restart Group, on which the housing building sector is represented, we are working closely with industry to develop plans to get back to work safely as soon as the medical evidence suggests it is appropriate to do so.

“It is only when we are sure the virus is fully under control that we can begin to ease any of the restrictions.”

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