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Landlords are renting out big houses in Taynuilt to partying visitors flouting lockdown.
Police have been called to a number of properties in the village where law-breakers were dealt with and charged.
But it is still unclear how landlords at fault are being dealt with and what comeback they could face, says members of Taynuilt Community Council, who want answers.
In January, seven calls were made about one house in particular and there have been others since.
Taynuilt Community Council receives updates from the police and is now asking Argyll and Bute Council if it is – or is considering – taking any action against landlords who are facilitating such breaches by continuing to trade and potentially putting the community at risk from the virus.
Business enforcement sits with the local authority but if the landlord is present at the time a breach takes place, police could issue them with a fine then and there.
Community council chairman David Sloss says they are still waiting for a response from council officials but want to pass down ‘the big picture’ to villagers who are feeling frustrated.
‘It would appear due to the size of the properties that visiting individuals are using the venues for parties.
‘A police report we received on January 18 said there had been seven calls to one address and individuals had been charged. We know of two more calls to two other properties where there were also charges,’ he said.
And he added: ‘We want to know what action is being taken against landlords. We want to know what steps the council will or can take against landlords who are culpable or are showing such wreckless conduct. Will they pass it on to other agencies such as environmental health or landlord registration for action and what could that result in?
‘If we get an answer we can tell people the big picture and say that the authorities are looking at it.’
The community council is anxious to quell any disputes, after some comments and complaints appeared on a Taynuilt Facebook page, and is instead advising people to report any suspected lockdown breaches directly to the police.
‘We are advising anyone suspecting people of breaching Covid regulations to report it to the police directly for them to act on,’ said Mr Sloss.
Scottish Government guidance states that accommodation providers, such as hotels and bed and breakfasts, can remain open for essential customers only.
A spokesperson for Argyll and Bute Council said: ‘We have enforcement powers to ensure these providers comply with Covid guidelines and that they have appropriate measures in place.
‘We work closely with Police Scotland to enforce this and, if there are any breaches of legal requirements, we will take action to secure compliance. This may include issuing a direction or Prohibition Notice which may prohibit the activity or close the premises, or Police Scotland may issue a Fixed Penalty Notice. Anyone with any concerns can contact us directly by emailing email@example.com or calling 01546 605519
‘All complaints are investigated and where appropriate, discussed with Police Scotland, and appropriate enforcement action taken.’
Over on Lismore, the island’s Community Emergency Response Team has gone online asking any second home owners currently on the island to return to their main place of residence.
A message from the Covid response team also thanked those who have shown their love for the island by staying away and said they will be welcomed back once the pandemic has abated.
The message was posted on the island’s Facebook community noticeboard as a reminder that Lismore is ‘an extremely vulnerable and fragile community’ with limited access to health services.
It read: ‘We have done really well to escape Covid to date, but older and vulnerable people are yet to be vaccinated and there is still a high risk of the virus reaching the community. It is the responsibility of everyone to protect not only their own health but that of the community.
‘So please limit trips to the mainland, continue to practice social distancing and hygiene. We have come so far and we mustn’t fall at the last hurdle.’
And it continued: ‘If you own a second home on the island – we will be happy to see you once the pandemic has abated and things are back to normal but for now, we appreciate you showing your love of the island by remaining in your own home.
‘To the small number of people who have visited their second homes during lockdown – please, think twice about doing this again and if you are currently here then please return home to your main residence. This will be much appreciated by the community, with whom you can safely socialise with confidence once it is safe to do so.’
All is quiet on Seil, community council convenor Zim Knight told The Oban Times, with no complaints of second homers basing themselves on the island during this lockdown.
‘We did have some staying here during the first lockdown and at the start of this one, but I think it’s pretty quiet. A few visitors left a day late after Christmas, but I’ve not heard any complaints,’ he said.