Villagers angry after Army major self-isolates in holiday cottage

Villagers in uproar after Army major relocates to a holiday cottage in the Yorkshire Dales with his family instead of self-isolating on a base after returning from posting in Kenya

  • Major Neil Foot-Tapping is self-isolating in village of Melmerby, North Yorkshire
  • Had recently returned from posting in Kenya and is now with family in a cottage
  • But locals say he should be isolating inside the nearby Catterick Garrison base
  • North Yorkshire Police were reportedly called on Saturday to investigate move
  • *Are you in the village? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]*

Angry residents called in the police when they discovered an Army major and his family had been allowed to relocate to a holiday cottage in their remote village.

Residents of Melmerby, North Yorkshire believe Major Neil Foot-Tapping should have been isolating on an army base after flying in from his posting in Kenya.

Instead the family is living in a luxury holiday cottage with a snooker table and spectacular views across the Yorkshire Dales national park.

An email newsletter was sent around residents of the village, which has a population of just 40, notifying them of the major’s arrival.

It led to a wave of anger as locals felt the move flouted lockdown rules and put the welfare of the village’s elderly community at risk.

Major Neil Foot-Tapping and his family are living in a luxury holiday cottage with a snooker table and spectacular views across the Yorkshire Dales national park

They called police over the weekend asking them to investigate his move and insisted he should be living inside the wire at his Catterick Garrison base, not a small village 12 miles away.

Local farmer Andrew Avison, 43, said a number of residents in the village were concerned about the arrival.

He said: ‘I’ve got nothing against him personally or the fact he has to come back to the UK, but I don’t think it’s good protocol from the Army to let him rock up in a tiny village in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

‘There’s at least three people in the village who are on the at risk list and he’s coming all the way from Kenya straight into the heart of our community.

‘We have no services or facilities in the village and there are plenty houses in Catterick Garrison he could live at, until he’d at least self-isolated for 14 days.’

Locals in the Yorkshire Dales called police asking them to investigate Major Foot-Tapping’s move and insisted he should be living inside the wire at his Catterick Garrison base, not a small village 12 miles away

An email sent to local residents said the major would be staying at the holiday cottage for a ‘couple of months’ and he would be involved in helping the Army coordinate the coronavirus relief effort.

It reads: ‘I am emailing you all to let you know that an army officer, a Major Neil Foot-Tapping, will be taking up temporary residence for a couple of months or so.

‘During his working hours, Major Tapping will be based in Catterick Garrison, where he will be involved with co-ordinating the work of the army with their assistance in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.

‘He will move to the garrison permanently when the logistics for the operations and his accommodation have been finalised. Obviously he will be observing the social distancing rules when he is in the village.’

Richmondshire District councillor Sue Fairhurst said she believed the family should have been housed in Catterick Garrison until the emergency was over.

She said: ‘We have a duty to protect all residents in our communities and particularly those who are shielding and this move should not be allowed to go ahead.

‘In Middleham we have had concerns from residents about the use of second homes and holiday homes during the present lockdown, the message is clear stay at home and do not move house during the lockdown.’

It is understood Major Foot-Tapping has returned from Kenya after the British Army evacuated its troops from the country due to the virus and brought them back to the UK where health provision is better.

An email newsletter was sent around residents of the village, which has a population of just 40, notifying them of the major’s arrival (pictured, the inside of the luxury cottage he is staying in)

The arrival of visitors to second homes and holiday cottages is continuing to cause concern among residents across the Yorkshire Dales.

Community leaders and police are continuing to receive reports of people moving from elsewhere in the country to their second homes, despite clear advice not to.

Upper Dales county councillor Yvonne Peacock said she had heard about a new arrival in her area over the weekend and would be contacting the police.

She said: ‘It’s absolutely wrong and I’m very concerned about the problem.

‘The Government directive is very clear — people should stay in their own homes and a second home isn’t their own home.

‘I am contacting the police when I hear of a case and I would urge others to do the same.’

A Wensleydale resident, who asked not to be named, said there had been several new arrivals in recent days at second homes in and around his village.

He said: ‘The instructions from the Government are clear.

‘This is a pandemic which could harm our loved ones. The Dales are full of older, vulnerable and hard working people who are all following the rules.

‘These people who are still travelling to second homes and holiday cottages could potentially be bringing the virus with them — it’s just selfish.’

Asked about Major Foot-Tapping’s case, a Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: ‘We cannot comment on individual cases but to minimise exposure to COVID-19, Army personnel have been advised to return to their homes.

‘Soldiers will be recalled when required, to support the COVID-19 Task Force.

‘Personnel returning from overseas may be housed in temporary accommodation and we expect all our of personnel to adhere to Government and Public Health England guidelines.’

North Yorkshire Police and the owner of the cottage have been approached for comment. 

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