MSP calls for more support for hospitality

Meg and Serge El Adm in front of the Lamlash Bay Hotel taken before the coronavirus pandemic.

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West Scotland MSP Jamie Greene has urged the Scottish government to do more to help Arran hospitality businesses as they struggle to cope with the coronavirus restrictions, which have badly hit them.

Many businesses on Arran are still waiting to receive financial support from the government, despite having applied for it weeks ago, and Mr Greene has been in touch with some of them to hear how they are coping.

The Conservative MSP said: ‘I have been in touch with local hospitality businesses here on Arran to find out how they are coping with the tier three restrictions, which were continued this week.

‘They understand the need for restrictions in order to reduce the spread of the virus, but many have had difficulty accessing the support available.

‘They are stuck between a rock and a hard place and I have repeatedly called on the Scottish Government to provide financial support quickly and without unnecessary bureaucracy.

‘The fact that many businesses are still waiting is nothing less than a kick in the teeth and this must be urgently addressed so that anxious business owners and staff can have breathing space at this difficult time. The hospitality sector here on Arran deserves better.’

Meg and Serge El Adm, owners of the Lamlash Bay Hotel said: ‘We appreciate how difficult the situation is for everyone at the moment and that those in power have to make extremely difficult decisions in order to reduce the spread of the virus.

‘Once it was confirmed that Arran was going to be in tier three, we had the awful job of calling guests and cancelling them which is heart-breaking when you desperately need the business.

‘The restrictions have been catastrophic for the accommodation sector and has seen the emergence of “zombie hotels” which were forced to remain open with no customers because they haven’t been instructed to close and therefore cannot receive support from the closure fund.

‘Applying for support from the hardship fund has been particularly challenging and we have yet to receive anything from it. We have spent months of sleepless nights worrying about whether or not we can stay open.

‘During the first lockdown we were extremely grateful for the help and support given by the government, including the furlough scheme which has helped us retain all our staff.

‘Staff morale is very low at the moment and as owners sitting watching the minutes tick by with no phone calls or custom only exacerbates our anxiety.

‘The bottom line is that it is not possible to maintain a hotel business under these restrictions and we should all have been given instruction to temporarily close.’