Clash over construction

Jenrick and Sturgeon in conflict over building sites

Advance Construction

Resuming work on construction sites is a split decision

UK Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick set the UK and Scottish governments on a collision course over re-starting work at construction sites.

Mr Jenrick suggested that the construction sector should return to work “wherever possible” and hinted that this will be part of the Prime Minister’s announcement on Sunday when he will unveil plans for an easing of the lockdown.

Earlier, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon insisted there was no change to her policy on keeping construction sites closed, even though a number of house builders have resumed work south of the border.

Delivering the UK government’s daily briefing Mr Jenrick noted that work on the HS2 rail project had restarted.

He talked about plans to adapt offices, public spaces and transport systems while emphasising the need to keep on staying safe.

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He said the government would be setting out detailed plans on how “every local economy” can “restart and recover” and called on infrastructure and construction work “to begin again wherever it is safe to do so”.

He said it was the government’s “strong preference” that lockdown measures should be eased in the same way across the UK.

Earlier, the PM said lockdown measures could start being eased from Monday.

In the Scottish Parliament Nicola Sturgeon said construction sites in Scotland would remain closed until she is confident that they are safe to open.

Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon: We need to persevere a little longer

Tory leader Jackson Carlaw, stating that simplicity and consistency were important across the four nations, had asked why sites can operate safely in Carlisle but not in Dumfries.

The First Minister said there was an implication in Mr Carlaw’s question that her position was the wrong one.

“She said that if asked if anything had changed “my answer to that is: not yet. We need to persevere a little longer.”

She added that talks were ongoing with a building industry forum and “until we get to a point where we can ease up then we must stick with it.”

Mr Carlaw later issued a statement, saying: “Some normality is beginning to return elsewhere in the UK, and people in Scotland are wondering why that can’t be the case here.

“We’ve been clear from the start that, when the SNP wants to take a divergent approach, it must set out exactly why that’s of benefit.

“Unfortunately, so far that evidence has been severely lacking.”

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