Your letters to The Buteman: February 12, 2016

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

This week’s selection of your Letters to the Editor includes thoughts on council cuts, the Rest and Be Thankful, the EU referendum date, reporting of the European refugee crisis and more.

To add your thoughts to the mix in our next print edition, email news@buteman.com by 5pm on Monday at the latest. Please remember to include your full name and address, for publication, and a contact phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice (though this will not be published).

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Thank you from Bute Island Radio

May I, through these columns, register our thanks to the management and staff of the Bridge Street branch of the Co-op, who generously

accommodated our fundraising “Bag-Pack” on Saturday, January 30.

The friendliness and patience shown by the staff towards our volunteers was both a credit to themselves, and the store. Many thanks folks.

May I also record our sincere thanks to the generosity of the customers who had to put up with us, and who still dug deep to help us raise a superb £616 towards our annual running costs of nearly £9.000.

Thanks also for the occasional word of encouragement, and indeed the odd little bit of praise receivedfor what we are trying to build.

A big, big thank you goes to a couple of our listeners who showed their appreciation for us, by turning-up and offering their services as bag-packers as a way of saying thanks for the service that we endeavour to provide to the community. You are appreciated as much as the funds that you helped to raise.

Finally, remember, we exist not only to entertain with our music.

If you are a registered charity or a community group who are not for personal gain here on Bute, we are here to help you to promote your events and/or get your message over, so please use us.

Contact us at admin@buteislandradio.com or phone 01700 504636 leaving your details, and our station manager will get back to you.

Chris Cobain (chair of Bute Island Radio), 7 Castle Street, Rothesay

EU vote should not be delayed

I am very disappointed that the SNP Scottish Government has such low regard for the people of Scotland. They don’t believe that we can cope with two different elections that may be six to seven weeks apart. They seem to indicate that we can’t work out the different issues for both events.

The first will be to elect new members to the Scottish Parliament on May 5. The second will be the referendum on in or out of the EU, most probably in late June. Two very separate things. So, there is no need to delay the vote on the EU and further compromise our economy any longer than necessary. So please respect the people of Scotland by not insulting our intelligence by asking for any delay in the EU vote.

Ursula Craig, Rossarden, Shore Road, Cove

Solution for the ‘Rest’

With reference to the letter from Alan Reid regarding the Rest and Be Thankful, it has suffered an increasing amount of landslides in the past few years the reason being the unstable ground above the road.

Despite the Scottish Government spending £9 million last year on mitigation measures such as steel netting, concrete barriers the problem will not go away and this problem will remain as long as there are no sheep on the hillside.

Recent letters to national newspapers by James Campbell from Peebles mention the fact that for many years there has been no sheep on the ground above the Rest. This has resulted in the grass growing to a height of some 30cm. This grass retains thousands of tons of water when there is heavy rainfall; this causes the soil beneath the grass to weaken, and thus we get a landslide.

If the Scottish Government was to purchase around 1,200 blackface sheep and put them on the slopes above the Rest and Be Thankful they would graze this grass down until it was manageable, and I am sure the problem could be solved.

Other agricultural people like myself have a similar view that this could solve the problem. It will take time but I have already contacted the transport minister, Derek Mackay, with this suggestion.

Incidentally the £9m spent on mitigation last year is approximately £8.5m more than Mr Reid’s party, the Liberal Democrats, ever spent on the Rest.

Robert Macintyre, Dunallan Farm, Rothesay

Look after our own first

As an ex-serviceman I am disgusted to see that SSAFA is having to advertise for charity while we, as a country, can provide homes for Syrian refugees.
In Ardbeg, there are four flats which have been made available. They are fully carpeted and furnished, and what’s more, heated on thermostat since early November, and the families are not even here yet.
For God’s sake, let’s look after our own needy first.

I.C. Findlay, 74A Ardbeg Road, Rothesay

Difficult budget decisions

On Thursday, February 11, Argyll and Bute councillors will make their final decision on the service cuts for 2016-17.

I don’t envy them in their task. They are faced with these grim decisions because the SNP government has instructed them to cut their spending by many millions of pounds.

Our councillors are faced with the impossible task of weighing up the relative importance of children’s education, beautiful gardens, libraries or advice centres etc.

Local services and community assets built up over many generations are being wiped out.

These SNP cuts to council budgets are more extreme than any ever forced through by the Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher.

The sad legacy of this SNP government is the near destruction of local democracy in Scotland. Local choice has been swept aside and replaced by instructions from Edinburgh.

Alan Reid (Liberal Democrat candidate for Argyll and Bute), 136 Fairhaven, Dunoon

No plans to criminalise ‘Good Samaritans’

It is often said that a lie can go around the world before the truth has got its boots on. This is particularly true in reports on the EU, where coverage in the media is often distorted by confusion and misinformation.

I would like to reiterate to your readers that the EU has no plans to criminalise holidaymakers who act as Good Samaritans and rescue struggling migrants off the coast of Greece.

It is somewhat disheartening that other news outlets are willing to suggest an organisation that has donated millions in humanitarian aid would give people no choice but to watch others drown.

Yes, the European Council conclusions should explicitly acknowledge that some actions have a humanitarian reason and should never be prosecuted or treated as smuggling.

However, the package is a work in progress, and acknowledges that trafficking is a growing problem.

That’s why it calls for member states to share knowledge and raise awareness on mapping criminal organisations.

Migrant smuggling is a serious form of organised crime, and we cannot simply accept that shoving families on an overloaded boat and leaving it to fate is a viable option.

There is a huge difference between migrants and refugees, which has also been glossed over by certain quarters.

I would respectfully encourage your readers to get in touch whenever an EU story that strikes them as suspicious, and I’ll be happy to give them the inside scoop. They’re welcome to email me at alyn.smith@ep.europa.eu

Alyn Smith (SNP MEP for Scotland), 1 Summerhall, Edinburgh

Chatterbox Challenge

We know that many children are starting school with language skills that are underdeveloped for their age.

We want the people of Argyll and Bute to challenge this and ensure children in this area are given the essential communication skills they need to help them learn to read, do well at school and make friends.

Through the Chatterbox Challenge, the annual sing-a-long run by I CAN, the children’s communication charity, preschool settings can support their children’s communication development. Singing songs and rhymes are a great way to develop children’s communication skills which helps them to read and succeed at school.

I CAN is calling for preschool settings to register to get involved and encouraging everyone to nominate their local nursery, childminder or children’s centre to take part in the event at www.ican.org.uk/chatterbox

For more information about other support I CAN offers visit www.ican.org.uk

Clare Geldard (I CAN Director), 31 Angel Gate, Goswell Road, London

Stroke support gratitude

I am writing to say a huge thank you to everyone in your area who has run, swam, walked, abseiled, hopped, held their breath or baked for the Stroke Association over the last year.

We have had some fantastic support and recently saw Royal Mail workers complete 5k runs, wash cars, play in cricket tournaments and Bubble Football matches to help raise an incredible £1 million. It is a fantastic achievement and we are so grateful.

Every year there are around 15,000 strokes in Scotland. Stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer, more men than prostate and testicular cancer combined, and is one of the largest causes of disability.

But thanks to the millions of pounds raised by our supporters and charity partners, like Royal Mail, the Stroke Association has been able to support stroke survivors in their life after stroke and invest in ground breaking research.

Since September 2014, Royal Mail staff have been raising money so we can continue to provide Life After Stroke grants to stroke survivors and their families at a time when they need us the most. These grants help survivors take their first steps back into the community. We will be continuing to work with Royal Mail over the next year to raise a further £1 million to fund up to 10,000 recovery and activity grants.

On behalf of stroke survivors and their loved ones, I would like to say thank you to all our supporters.

Jon Barrick (Chief Executive, Stroke Association), 15 Links Place, Edinburgh