At Random 16.9.21

Martin Laing.

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Crisis point

Much has been said about the shortage of staff hitting so many hospitality sector businesses in the area but I hadn’t realised how desperate it is becoming until I tried to book a table for dinner in Oban early last week.

Many of the most popular outlets were unavailable because they are closed two days a week (and we wanted to eat out on Tuesday evening), and those which weren’t had no tables free.

‘Staff needed’ signs proliferate in restaurant, cafe and pub windows, and I know from speaking to business owners in Oban that they are seriously concerned.
With the high season winding down, demand should decrease, even if only a little, but the sector is at crisis point and there is little indication of much being done to help.

The causes of the shortage of staff seem to blamed on two things, neither of them a surprise: the Covid pandemic and Brexit, the latter of which has resulted in a withdrawal of many European migrant workers.

Covid is having an impact very directly, as I also discovered last week. I had a reservation at Coast in George Street for Thursday evening but this excellent restaurant was forced to shut because of a positive test.

How this crisis will resolve itself is beyond my ken but for the sake of the Oban area’s economy, I hope sincerely that a solution can be found. I know that Andy Spence and his colleagues at BID4Oban will be coming up with a plan.

Credit due

I thought it was about time that someone (ie, me) gave a nod of recognition to the splendid Paddy Lafferty, of D&K Lafferty, Contractors, Oban.

Now, I admit Paddy is a friend of mine, but he deserves praise for the amount of sponsorship he provides for numerous events in the area, most recently the John MacEachen Memorial Trophy at Glencruitten Golf Club. He is also principal sponsor of Oban Saints and countless other good causes. Oban would be a far poorer place without his generosity.

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