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Soroba residents are demanding workers digging up their estate put down tools after claims they have travelled from a covid virus-hit Tier 4.
Work, scheduled to take six months, began last week on Phase One of a £2.7million investment to renew and upgrade Scottish Water’s infrastructure in Oban after already being delayed because of the pandemic and again earlier this month when residents complained they were only given days warning of a start date.
Residents claim the workforce is from Glasgow and could bring the virus into Oban, putting townspeople and the Soroba estate at risk by staying in local accommodation and using shops and other services.
Calls from the community for Scottish Water to hold back on its plans to improve pipework and wait for the virus to ease have fallen on deaf ears with no reassurances about covid safety measures including regular testing of its workforce, says Marri Malloy from Soroba Community Enterprise Limited and chairperson of Oban Community Council.
She said: ‘No matter what we say, they are going ahead. Nothing will stop them. We have had no assurances on covid safety. They’re going against what the First Minister has said, unless it’s absolutely necessary people should not come from a higher tier into a lower one.
‘I’m not saying these works don’t need to be done eventually but they are not essential now. In the middle of a pandemic is not the right time – the work should stop and wait. Oban does not want to be taken up another level because of this.’
And added: ‘If one of their workers comes down with covid, work will be held up for self-isolation which means six-months of chaos and residents not being able to park will go for even longer.’
Argyll and Bute Council said it would not be commenting on the issue.
Soroba resident George Berry said workers told him they were from Bellshill. ‘They should not be coming here from Glasgow. People are incensed by it. Our community lost a wonderful lady to the virus, we don’t want to lose anyone else,’ he said.
A Scottish Water spokesperson said: ‘We are continuing planned works for our capital investment programme in Oban as our work here is deemed essential to future services for customers in the area. We would like to reassure the local community all essential operational work and infrastructure projects are being carried out in line with Scottish Government Covid-19 guidance for the construction industry.
‘We fully understand how important it is to work safely and support our workers’ and communities’ health and wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic and not contribute to the spread of the virus. We do recognise there are different tiers of restrictions in place across Scotland. However, we would like to reassure the general public that we have implemented measures, where required, to ensure safe working and allow for safe distancing by our workforce, while ensuring the safety of the people in the communities where we are working. We are taking all the appropriate safety measures and precautions to protect staff and customers. Any contractor or alliance partner delivering work on behalf of Scottish Water is doing the same. Any worker who experiences symptoms of Covid-19, or is notified that they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive, will be expected to take appropriate action in line with government and public health guidelines.
‘We will continue to engage with the community as the project progresses.’
Caption: Roadworks on Soroba for pipework improvements by Scottish Water KG_T48-Soroba