Marks & Spencer chairman dismisses rumours family travelled to Lismore

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Marks & Spencer chairman and former Tory MP Archie Norman has dismissed rumours that he arrived on Lismore with his family after lockdown, but confirmed his 35-year-old daughter is on the island independently.

The chairman issued a statement following speculation on Facebook and Twitter.

A spokeswoman for M&S said: ‘Mr Norman has not travelled there and is fully aware of the restrictions and has no plans to go there.

‘His daughter is there but she is self-isolating on medical advice and had permission to travel. She had all the necessary paperwork to show on the ferry. No other members of the family are there.’

The Norman family have owned property and land on the island for more than a generation.

Lismore Community Trust chairman Sebastian Tombs said people arriving on the island after lockdown was causing ‘a bit of heat’.

‘People are feeling a little upset if new people arrive on the island and it has caused a bit of heat. The worry is if our isolation on Lismore is breached and we do get infection then it’s a whole big complication. Islanders and our volunteers and community council are all working really hard to keep normal life going while staying safe.’

He added: ‘Our situation here is different from the mainland – if we need to get medical help or care to sick people quickly then it’s an extra challenge for us. We don’t have a doctor or nurse on the island, although we are trying to address that.’

Mr Tombs also said the community council had been working with the ferry operators to make sure they did not let people travel here unless it was really essential.

CalMac has revealed it turned away 66 passengers in the last two weeks across its network of routes, stopping them from reaching the islands.

‘Only essential travel is being allowed. We are asking passengers if their journey is essential and if so why. We have turned away 66 passengers since March 26. We need to take people on trust though,’ said a CalMac spokesman.

Seil Island has also had concerns about holidaymakers and people coming to second homes. Earlier this week police were called to a party at a holiday let, the family were asked to move on.

On the mainland, there have been reports of a flow of cars carrying bikes on racks turning up at beauty spots around Loch Awe.

Following complaints from local constituents, Oban and the Isles councillor Roddy McCuish told the Oban Times that anyone flouting lockdown rules to travel to second homes and holiday houses should have their vehicles impounded and face trebled fines.

He said: ‘It’s with extreme disappointment and dismay that I’m finding out there are people using their second homes during lockdown. It’s irresponsible and it’s dangerous.  How would they feel if we arrived in their communities, putting a strain on their shops and burdening their local NHS.

‘Coronavirus has brought out the good and unfortunately the bad in people. Anyone travelling here for non-essential reasons is just being selfish. The police need to get tougher, fines should be trebled and cars impounded.’

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: ‘We have increased high visibility patrols across our communities and will continue to challenge those who do not comply in a positive and constructive tone. Therefore, it’s unlikely that members of the public will have to report others to us. But people should continue to contact us to report any criminality or concerns, and in the context of the new legislation they should do that if what they see is a clear and obvious breach of the regulations.’

But the spokesperson added enforcement was ‘always a last resort’ when reports are made, with engagement and education being the priority.

Fixed penalty fines are £60 reduced to £30 if paid quickly. Road blocks in Scotland are not currently being considered, the spokesperson added.