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Concerns raised about Highland holiday resort


By Caroline McMorran


The operator of a caravan park in Sutherland is coming under fire for not closing down because of the coronavirus crisis.

Local people are angry and concerned that Parkdean Resorts, which runs Grannie’s Hielan’ Hame Holiday Park in Embo, is continuing to operate.

Grannie's Hielan' Hame, Embo.
Grannie's Hielan' Hame, Embo.

The fear is that an insurge of holidaymakers will increase the risk of the virus spreading in the county and also put pressure on food supplies.

However, Embo resident and local councillor Jim McGillivray has said that without a lock down, people could not be stopped from accessing their own property – and many of the caravans are privately owned.

Parkdean runs a large number of holiday parks throughout Great Britain.

A post on its website states: “All our parks are open however we have taken the necessary action to temporarily close our bars, restaurants and leisure facilities in line with government guidance until further notice. This will mean that you can choose to still holiday with us while staying in one of our standalone self-catering caravans or lodges.

"We appreciate there is uncertainty at the moment and we would love to welcome you, however should you wish to amend your stay and have a holiday booked with us up to April 27 you can login into My Booking and claim your holiday voucher."

A sign outside the office at Grannie’s Hielan Hame, to which balloons were attached, asks visitors not to go into the village itself, stating that some Embo residents are “self-isolating”.

In an email to the Northern Times – sister title to the Inverness Courier – Shirley Macdonald wrote: “It’s very worrying that this caravan site remains open.

“Our village of Embo is really worried as vehicles are arriving daily and nobody knows who to contact to help us get it closed. We are worried about the elderly and the vulnerable.

"The notices are not stopping people wandering round the village.

"Cars and caravans and folks were stopping off in Dornoch for supplies at the Co-op before heading to Embo.

"They just don’t care and seem to think that we have plenty food in the shops when that’s just not been the case this last few days.

"People are irresponsible."

Cllr McGillivray said: “It’s a difficult situation – how do you prevent owners accessing their own property – their residential caravans – without any legal order?

“And that can only come from either Scottish Government under their 500-person gathering rule or UK government under a lock-down edict.

“And what constitutes a 500-person gathering – there are tenements in Glasgow accommodating that number on one site? The UK government really needs to make up its mind on whether there’s a lock down or not.

“And next year, hopefully once this is all over, we’ll be begging tourists to come back. I’ve just walked round the site and there’s hardly anybody there except workmen.”

The Northern Times contacted Parkdean for comment by phone and email but so far have not received a response.

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