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Councillors demand more localised Covid-19 information to deal with potential Highland lockdowns

Highland Council leader Margaret Davidson
Highland Council leader Margaret Davidson

Highland councillors have agreed to call on the First Minister to share more localised information about Covid-19 infection levels in the Highlands.

Council leader Margaret Davidson interrupted the agenda at yesterday’s full council meeting to raise an urgent motion calling for the current Scottish Government protocols on Covid information sharing to be reviewed.

She said as powers to implement lock downs and restrictions move towards local areas, localised information was essential.

Opposition SNP councillors urged caution around confidentiality issues, with Badenoch & Strathspey councillor Muriel Cockburn citing the Grantown outbreak as an example where ‘speculation and the behaviour of locals was worrying’.

Mrs Davidson said: “Throughout the pandemic we have received information on national and Highland wide numbers infected with Covid 19.

“However as powers to implement lock downs and restrictions are moving to more local areas, we believe we require more localised information.

“We are aware that detailed information is shared on a daily basis with a range of authorities, including senior council officers, but there are currently restrictions in place about who this is shared with such as with elected members.

“This has a detrimental impact on our ability to plan, make informed decisions, and provide advice and reassurance to our communities.”

She called on the First Minister to review how information is being distributed and to lift the restrictions on some of the NHS statistics and on some of the information that goes to senior resilience officers.

She said: “I’ve heard elected members’ frustrations over the last five months about the lack of information at local level and I believe we are now in a place where we should be asking for that, because we are going to be making some of the decisions around lockdowns, and more importantly, decisions about how we support our communities and making sure we’re ready to do that.”

Mrs Cockburn said after the experience in Grantown, she would want detailed working of what the structures should be and was not comfortable with the idea of a more detailed briefing.

But fellow Badenoch councillor John Bruce said Grantown set a good example of how to go about things.

“It wasn’t perfect by any means but at least people locally got to hear that there was a problem and they were able to take action on that problem.”

Mrs Davidson’s motion was carried by 47 votes against an amendment brought forward by councillor Emma Roddick.

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