Your letters to The Buteman: December 25, 2015

Send your letters to the editor to news@buteman.com.
Send your letters to the editor to news@buteman.com.

This week’s crop of Letters to the Editor includes observations the Liberal Democrats and privatisation, a correction from Bute Community power, and a thank you from the pre-5 pupils at Rothesay Primary.

As ever, to add your views to the debate on any of the topics raised, or any subject of interest to Bute, drop an email to news@buteman.com.

Please note that due to the festive holiday period the deadline for letters to our January 1 edition is Monday, December 28 at 12 noon - though as always, the sooner we hear from you, the better are your chances of seeing your views in print.

Please keep your letters as brief as you can, and remember to include your name and address for publication. We also need a daytime contact phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be printed.

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Lib Dems must share blame

Far from clearing up “some matters”, Alan Reid’s reply (Letters, December 18) to my letter in the previous week’s Buteman merely serves to tighten the noose around his neck.

He says that “competition is the best way to achieve quality services”. Er, does that include BT, gas and electricity, etc, etc? Spoken, if I may say so, like a real Thatcherite Tory.

Name one privatised industry that has improved service and given a quality product.

Why must Alan always use the first person when describing the actions of the coalition government? Has he no shame?

He claims that HE made sure that the six day delivery and collection service would continue after privatisation of the Royal Mail. So far, Alan, so far.

Recently the CEO of Royal Mail made it clear that the conditions of service such as universal pricing and six day working were “not competitive” and “not conducive to growth”.

That doesn’t fill me with confidence. It is only a matter of time before we are required to collect our mail weekly from the depot with delivery charges to the Highlands and Islands being hiked horrendously .

The final knife in the back for us all was the fact that Vince Cable, the relevant secretary of state in the coalition government, sold the thing off for a tiny fraction of what it was worth. Take the credit for that, Alan, I dare you.

I bet more than a few Home Counties politicians saw their family trusts grow significantly.

Alan is correct that Gourock Pier and passenger handling are the responsibility of CMAL, but what exactly is CMAL?

Back in 2006, a tendering process was initiated by the Scottish Executive, and in order for CalMac to look ‘lean and mean’, bits of its business were renamed and fiscal responsibilities were spread about. Rather like Royal Mail and BT actually.

We got CalMac Ferries Ltd, Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd, David MacBrayne and Caledonian Spoons (okay, I made that last one up).

One of this little group saw to it that staff were paid via a Guernsey company and thus able to avoid tax...the company, that is, not the staff.

Then, just when CalMac and its subsidiaries spent millions on the tendering process, the Scottish Executive decided not to go ahead with it. The only losers were the taxpayers.

None of this is in the least bit comforting to people having to negotiate that dreadful gangway. CalMac is CalMac no matter what you call it, although calling it Caledonian Spoons would be a step in the right direction!

You will notice that I have used the term, ‘Scottish Executive’. That is because the people in power when all this rubbish happened were the Labour Party and Mr Reid’s Lib Dems.

Where the SNP failed, and failed badly, was in not dumping the whole lot and starting again. Transport Scotland and Strathclyde Transport are abominations and are only nominally answerable to the ministers in charge.

The Dunoon ferry issue has little to do with either the Scottish Government or CalMac. ‘Suitable’ ferries do not just simply sit on shelves waiting to be picked up by ferry companies.

The two Dunoon vessels are almost unfit for purpose, but that was all that was available at the time, and even now there is still nothing better, as a browse through the shipping press will show.

As a taxpayer I would take it very ill if millions were spent on purpose built ships only to find that a handful of people use them, as was previously the case.

I would like to wish Alan a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. With reference to next year’s Scottish Parliament election, I would also like to say ‘may the best man win’, but that would be unkind, since the best man will win and it won’t be Alan.

The only unpleasant surprise that could await me would be anything other than an SNP win.

John M. McDonald, Ascog Boathouse, Ascog

Turbine appeal report was incorrect

Your article on Bute Community Power (BCP ‘could invest in off-island wind farm’, Friday December 18) does not correctly describe the basis for our appeal against the refusal of planning permission for the Auchintirrie wind turbines.

The article states that the basis of the appeal was the claim that the council had adopted an “inherently subjective” approach which “introduces bias and a consequential presumption against the application”.

The quoted words do appear in the statement of appeal but the article has quoted them out of context.

We wish to put the record straight for the benefit of your readers.

BCP’s appeal document gives six reasons for appeal. The first is that the planning report explicitly took a more stringent approach to the application of the planning criteria than would normally be the case, because of its understanding of Scottish Government policy on renewable energy.

That understanding was incorrect, in which case there is no basis for stringency.

The statement of the second reason notes that the three planning criteria on the basis of which refusal was justified are “all inherently subjective”.

We go on to say that: “Applying subjective judgements in a ‘stringent’ manner introduces bias and a consequential presumption against the application.”

The basis for the BCP appeal here is not that subjectivity has introduced bias. It is that the planning report’s more stringent application of planning criteria leads to bias, but is without foundation.

Interested readers can find more detail in the appeal document which can be downloaded from www.dpea.scotland.gov.uk by entering the case reference PPA-130-2053 in the search box.

Our statement of appeal is listed on page 3 of the documents list under ‘Appeal Form’.

Jim Osborne (chairman), Reeni Kennedy-Boyle (secretary) and Mick Common (acting treasurer), Bute Community Power Ltd, 81 Victoria Street, Rothesay

Festive thanks from Rothesay Primary pre-5s

Rothesay Primary Pre-5 would like to thank all our families and their friends for coming along to support our Eco Warriors, our Nativity and for being such an enthusiastic audience at our Christmas Sing-a-long!

Thanks too, to everyone who donated something for our Christmas raffle (a special mention to Tommy, Anne and Neil, Malky from the wee Co-op and Barbara from Butterflies who donated braiding for our Nativity costumes).

We would also like to thank our Parents’ Group for their continued support. Susan has helped the children make a wonderful tea-towel to give our fund-raising an extra boost.

With everyone’s support we have managed to raise more than £400 for nursery funds, which the children will use to buy new resources.

Finally, can we wish everyone a happy Christmas and our very best wishes for 2016.

Maureen Shaw (Head of Learning and Teaching - Primary), Rothesay Joint Campus, Townhead, Rothesay