Highlands & Islands

EU citizens target for abuse, says Highland Council chief

Donna Manson Image copyright Donna Manson
Image caption Donna Manson said 'simple national' messages had helped to allay anxieties and reduce incidents of abuse

Some EU citizens living in the Highlands have experienced abuse during the lockdown, MSPs have been told.

Highland Council chief Donna Manson told Holyrood's Covid-19 committee "anxieties" around tourism and use of second homes had been a cause.

She said people who had lived in the Highlands for years had been told they should be "going home".

Ms Manson said "simple national messages" on the coronavirus had helped reduce such incidents.

She said discussions with Highland councillors across the region had highlighted there was "positivity" around Scottish government guidance for everyone across Scotland to follow.

The local authority chief executive said: "What has kept the Highlands together has really been those simple national messages."

She said there was a "strong feeling" within the council that if the region was to divert from any national messaging then it would experience "some of the more unpleasant aspects" of lockdown, such as people "not welcoming tourism and tourists".

Ms Manson said: "We have many, many people in the Highlands who are from European countries. They've been with our communities for a long, long time.

"We've experienced some unpleasant incidents, and some individuals have experienced some unpleasant incidents in terms of comments about going home."