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Council / Councillor disappointed SIC did not get to see lockdown exit proposals at ‘earliest opportunity’

A LOCAL councillor says it is a “real shame” that local authorities did not get to see the Scottish Government’s route map out of the lockdown before it was published online.

North Isles member Ryan Thomson claimed that the government treats councils as a “nuisance” rather than use them to their advantage.

North Isles councillor Ryan Thomson. Photo: Shetland NewsChairman of the SIC’s transport and environment committee, councillor Ryan Thomson. Photo: Shetland News

He made the comments after the Scottish Government published a document on Thursday detailing how Scotland is set to exit lockdown in phases.

The first phase is due to set on 28 May and it will see people be given the opportunity to visit other households while outside and physically distancing.

There are a number of other restrictions being lifted which relate to activities of councils, from schools to waste recycling centres.

The document was uploaded to the Scottish Government website on Thursday afternoon, although it crashed for a period of time due to visitor numbers.

But Thomson, who chairs Shetland Islands Council’s environment and transport committee, said local authorities should have been given view of the route map prior to publication.

He added that the council is “busily studying this document to find out what this means locally for the people of Shetland”.

“It’s a real shame that all local authorities do not get any foresight into our government’s plans,” Thomson said.

“Our staff at the SIC work incredibly hard to mitigate the circumstances we currently find ourselves in, and I feel it would be only courteous of the government to give all local authorities foresight of the proposals at the earliest opportunity.

“It is, after all, local authority staff who will be implementing the new guidelines and legislation.

“It baffles me why the government do not use local authorities across the country to their advantage, and to the advantage of the people in our country.

“Rather, they continue to treat local authorities as a nuisance, and a burden. It’s a shame, and a real missed opportunity.”

The Scottish Government said the route map provides “practical examples of what people, organisations and businesses can expect to see change over time”.

It also includes confirmation that schools are expected to reopen on 11 August.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The lockdown restrictions have been necessary to reduce and mitigate the massive harm caused by the Covid-19 virus, but the lockdown itself causes harm including loneliness and social isolation, deepening inequalities and damage to the economy.

“That is why I have set out the gradual and incremental phases by which we will aim to ease lockdown matched with careful monitoring of the virus.”