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Coronavirus in Moray: Lochhead questions virus response at RAF Lossiemouth


By Alistair Whitfield

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MORAY'S MSP has raised the issue that seemingly non-essential work is being carried out on military homes across Moray.

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Several homes in Lossiemouth, which are lived in by RAF servicemen and their families, are currently having their roofs replaced, one property at a time, by contractors from Perth and Glasgow.

One resident, who did not wish to be identified, stated that the contractors had originally intended to replace both the windows and roofs in about a dozen houses in the neighbourhood.

When the lockdown was announced on Monday, March 23, they continued working for several days on a house to make its roof secure.

They then left.

The resident said: "They disappeared for the second week of the lockdown and we just assumed that they wouldn't be back.

"However, on Monday last week, they returned and started work on a second house.

"We've been told they're not now replacing our windows because that would mean coming into our homes, but they still intend to do the roofs.

"There's nothing wrong with my roof. I can't see how this can be classed as essential."

Work is also currently ongoing to resurface the runway at RAF Lossiemouth for the new Poseison P-8A maritime patrol planes.

Moray's MSP, Richard Lochhead, was careful to differentiate between this and the homes.

He said: "In the last few days I have been contacted by many constituents in the Elgin, Lossiemouth and Hopeman areas expressing concern about construction workers travelling back and forth to Moray for MoD related work.

"Concerns relate to the fact that we are in a temporary lockdown and we should not be witnessing workers from elsewhere in the UK travelling on a regular basis to Moray at this time for non-essential work.

"I am being told by constituents that some workers are in Moray to complete projects at RAF Lossiemouth and that other workers are here to work on MoD homes in the community.

"I spoke to the base commander a couple of weeks ago and was assured all non-essential work had been postponed and that only emergency repairs to the runway etc were continuing.

"I also was led to believe that the construction workers were being provided with accommodation on the base to take into account the community’s concerns.

"However, I am being told by constituents that some construction workers are living on and off in the community.

"It is important to note that hotels have to remain closed at the current time but there is an exemption for boarding key workers.

"The question is therefore, are the projects essential? And should all such workers not be accommodated on the base as a precautionary measure?

"Where national security is not an issue, I think it is important to have complete transparency around these issues so that the community is kept fully in the picture."

Mr Lochhead said the MoD and RAF Lossiemouth should be taking a "precautionary approach".

This means suspending all non-essential construction work both behind and beyond the wire.

He added: "Bringing in workers from elsewhere in the UK for scheduled routine repairs to MoD properties for instance would not fall into that category."

Mr Lochhead said he was seeking a further response from the new station commander and has been promised that soon.

He added: "The MOD has a duty to defend the local community and its own workers from this virus

"That means following the example of others and suspending all non-essential construction work both behind and beyond the wire.

"Local families and even the contract workers and service families that have contacted me are anxious and want this stopped."

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