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Stone writes to Scottish Government over Dornoch Christmas tree workers row


By Caroline McMorran

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MP Jamie Stone has said Dornoch Community Council and local Highland councillors should have been informed beforehand about an influx of foreign workers to the town.

Jamie Stone says the definition of 'essential work' needs to be made clearer.
Jamie Stone says the definition of 'essential work' needs to be made clearer.

Worried community councillors contacted Mr Stone, the Westminster representative for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, following the arrival of the dozen or so workers earlier this week.

Believed to be from Romania, the labourers are working at a Christmas tree plantation on the outskirts of the town.

The fear is that an influx of people from elsewhere in spite of the current pandemic lockdown, raises the risk of coronavirus to the community.

Police Scotland have been drawn into the row but have responded that Christmas trees are deemed to be a crop and working to maintain them is therefore essential.

Mr Stone has now written the Scottish Government asking if the concerns could be addressed.

In an email to Scottish Ministers, he stated: “I have received representations from my constituents about workers in Dornoch, which I enclose for your information. I would appreciate it if you could address their concerns.

“In my mind, the definition of 'essential work' is crucial here. I have already written to First Minister about this need for clarity but am awaiting a reply.

“What I find very worrying is that nobody seems to have run any proposals to take in workers from overseas past the democratically elected community council and Highland Councillors for the area. That is plain wrong. They have a right to be consulted on matters such as this.

"I believe that this poses another question for the Scottish Government in terms of keeping local people informed and most importantly, safe.

"What assurances can you give me that the Scottish Government is consulting local government on matters such as these?”

Concern over workers brought into Sutherland to weed Christmas trees

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