The Scottish Conservatives are demanding that the Housing Minister, Kevin Stewart ‘pulls his finger out’ as he continues to refuse to state when housing construction sites will reopen.
Graham Simpson, Scottish Conservative shadow local government and communities secretary has made repeated attempts to find out why the SNP government isn’t letting the housing construction industry reopen immediately and when they might.
In the Scottish Parliament yesterday the Housing Minister, Kevin Stewart failed to explain if the new phased approach to easing lockdown meant that housing construction could restart.
Again today, in a letter to Mr Simpson, Mr Stewart has stated that “non-essential construction” must remain closed and he refuses to say when the stages of the phased construction restart plan will begin.
There are currently 6,000 nearly-finished homes that could be completed while observing social distancing measures.
Apart from the financial cost to the companies involved, this unnecessary wait is causing 6,000 families extreme stress and frustration, not to mention financial cost also.
Graham Simpson, Scottish Conservative shadow local government and communities secretary said:
“The Housing Minister has got to pull his finger out.
“Despite repeated questioning he refuses to tell us when housing construction sites can reopen.
“Construction sites have opened in the rest of the UK, they can easily observe social distancing measures, there is no reason they shouldn’t be open.
“Not only is the SNP’s position completely illogical it is extremely frustrating for 6,000 families waiting to get into their homes.
“The SNP’s unnecessary delay on reopening these sites is causing many people unacceptable financial hardship.”
The letter from the Housing Minister is attached
The full text of Graham’s question is as follows –
My question relates to the route map that the First Minister has just outlined, and specifically to construction. She said that in phase 1, there would be a three-stage restart—stages 0 to 2—for construction. I have just looked that up. It includes the phrase “soft start to site works”. I do not know what that means. Does it mean that the 6,000 homes in Scotland that are nearly complete can be completed? If it does not mean that, what does it mean?
There is a huge amount of detail about the construction restart, the agreements that we have made on safe operating procedures and the phased approach. I will send all that detail to Mr Simpson, because I will not be able to fit it all into my answer.
The First Minister outlined the phased approach today. Working with the construction industry, we have put together a six-phase approach. The first stages, which the First Minister outlined today, mainly enable getting sites into shape to allow for physical distancing and the hygiene that is necessary. We will move forward incrementally at each stage, and we will work with the industry, trade unions and others to ensure that that phased approach is working safely.
I thank the construction industry, trade unions and others who have worked with us to shape how we move forward. I am sure that we will all work in partnership so that those phases ensure that people are safe in their work.