Your letters to The Buteman: December 12, 2014

Email your opinions to news@buteman.com, with the subject line 'Letter to the Editor'.
Email your opinions to news@buteman.com, with the subject line 'Letter to the Editor'.

This week’s selection of your Letters to the Editor, as published in our December 12 print edition, includes points of view on the new building being constructed in Rothesay’s Guildford Square, on Caledonian MacBrayne ferry disruption, on Scotland’s new drink-drive limit and on the Liberal Democrats’ record in government.

If you’d like to see your views appear in The Buteman’s next print edition, email them to news@buteman.com by 5pm this Monday, December 15, at the very latest. Please ensure your letter is as brief and to-the-point as possible, and remember to include your name and postal address for publication. We also need adaytikme phone number in case we need to contact you to check any details at short notice, though this will not be printed.

Town owes a big thanks to George Hanson

After all the talk about whether we should allow the development of the gap-site in Guildford Square, the new building may only be half finished but what a great looking addition to the square.

By the time all the renovations in and about the square are finished the first thing visitors will see is a nice well-kept part of the town centre.

The town owes a big thanks to George Hanson and his workforce for a great looking new building and for the renovation of some eyesores.

Now the Royal Hotel is in his hands we can be safe in the knowledge that it belongs to someone with the town’s best interest at heart.

James Lucas, Athol Place, Ardbeg

After suffering from the decrepit sight of the former ‘Gates of Hell’ in Guildford Square for decades and, more recently, the ‘clad in’ scaffolding for many months, it was a very welcome sight when the new building was revealed.

I have spoken to many locals and the feedback has been very complimentary: indeed, I didn’t hear one detrimental remark concerning it.

Once the adjacent buildings are finished, Rothesay will, at last, have a frontage to be proud of and, of course, one very positive aspect is that the main contractor is local and using local tradesmen. A very big well done to all concerned.

Now that the Townscape Heritage Initiative has been seen to have led such a sterling contract round the Westgate area, maybe an initiative could be set up to upgrade Montague Street and Bishop Street?

Iain Gillespie, 37 East Princes Street, Rothesay

‘Don’t take your customers for idiots’

A spokesman for CalMac, quoted in the Buteman of December 5, said: “Safety is our number one priority”.

Then please, CalMac spokesman, why was the MV Bute put back on service with a MCA safety issue?

I personally can assure the CalMac spokesman that MV Argyll was not on service on Nov 28 - she was in Greenock for her annual overhaul.

The MV Coruisk was not “brought in” to replace both vessels. She was doing her normal job acting as relief vessel while the two regular vessels are, in rotation, withdrawn for their annual service.

The CalMac spokesman then adds his brief apology for this inconvenience, and that we should be so lucky that CalMac address any potential issues with safety equipment as speedily as possible.

MV Bute returned from her annual overhaul and inspection on November 19: we must assume her MCA certificate rubber stamped fit for sea. Nine days later, on Friday, November 28, she suddenly finds she has “technical difficulties” and is withdrawn from service with immediate effect.

The CalMac spokesman tells that a safety check, plus a new way of testing the Zodiac life rafts, identified a problem and that improvements are required.

One must ask the question - was the MV Bute returned to service with faulty Zodiacs, therefore in breach of MCA? If the MCA certificate was not stamped ‘OK’, why did the master of MV Bute leave dock in Greenock?

To the CalMac spokesman: please don’t take your customers as idiots. We do fully understand mistakes can be made. It is just unfortunate CalMac seem to make more than most companies.

By the way, CalMac spokesman, it is not very nice sitting waiting on a ferry that does not turn up on a very cold damp November evening, and your apology does nothing to warm the heart.

Archie Fowler, 7 Wyndham Court, Ardbeg

New limit is about prevention, not discrimination

Paul McKay (Letters, November 28) seems to have been involved in some sort of time warp, and I’d like to welcome Mr McKay to the 21st century.

So that there is no doubt as to the year, it is 2014, not 1974 - a year where flares, paisley pattern shirts and long hair were the fashion, Scotland reached the World Cup finals in West Germany, Miss World was on prime-time television, cans of beer had semi-nude women on them, and drink-driving was fairly common and not socially unacceptable.

Thankfully, times have changed and so have attitudes. Drink driving is neither socially accepted, nor legally accepted, under any circumstances.

There are still far too many deaths caused by drink drivers. Just one pint makes a driver three times more likely to be involved in a death on the road - a statistic that makes it unacceptable to keep the limit at its current level.

This new law will bring Scotland into line with most of Europe and hopefully reduce drink-drive arrests and prosecutions, as has already been seen in the Republic of Ireland, where drivers adjusted their behaviour to take account of the lower limit.

Mr McKay mentions the advice on not driving if you have been drinking the day before.This is in fact true. It can take over an hour for one unit of alcohol to leave the body’s system. An average pint contains three units, and someone drinking just four points in an evening may make them over the limit the next morning. An average bottle of wine also contains 12 units and again will take around 12 hours to leave the system. So drinking that small amount late in the evening, finishing at 10pm, may result in being over the limit until around 10am. Drinking more and later will extend this even further.

It is not any kind of discrimination against rural residents, as accidents are more likely on rural roads. It is to do with ensuring the safety to every road user from those who are either too selfish or too ignorant to conduct themselves in a manner befitting the 21st century.

It’s not about catching more drink-drivers, but about preventing people from doing it in the first place.

Ultimately, most of us have too much to lose, so it’s just not worth the risk.

Hugh Moodie, 12 Bryce Avenue, Rothesay

Defence of Lib Dems’ record in government

I feel that I have to respond to Hugh Moodie’s attack (Letters, December 5) on both the Liberal Democrats and our MP Alan Reid in his letter of December 5.

He has given misinformation and is mixing up what is happening south of the border with here in Scotland. I would like to set the record straight with some facts.

He talks about the introduction of the “bedroom tax” and attributes it to Alan Reid. Is Mr Moodie aware that Alan Reid voted against this measure? Is he also aware that Mr Reid secured funding from Westminster for Argyll and Bute Council to assist those affected by this tax?

This money was administered at that time by an SNP-led council which did not maximise the funds effectively to benefit those in greatest need.

Mr Moodie talks about the free tuition fee pledge of the Lib Dems being broken. It was Labour who first introduced tuition fees. As the junior member of the coalition government Lib Dems were not able to persuade their Tory partners to abandon tuition fees. Lib Dems were part of a Scottish coalition government tuition which did not introduce fees.

The reform of the House of Lords was taken forward by the Lib Dems, but not backed by either of the main parties, even though it was in both Conservative and Labour manifestoes. Electoral reform remains a priority for Liberal Democrats.

Your correspondent accuses the Lib Dems of “taking us once again into war with Iraq”. What a selective memory. Doesn’t he remember Charles Kennedy leading the protests against the war in Iraq under Tony Blair’s government?

The UK’s current involvement in Iraq is at the request of the Iraq government to assist them in eradicating ISIS, an organisation described by Alan Reid as “murders, tortures, enslavers and barbaric”. Presumably Mr Moodie would be happy to allow ISIS continue murdering innocent people.

With the Smith Commission proposals enacted Scotland will be able to boast of home rule and be responsible for raising the majority of its finances and its spending. I hope Mr Moodie, like me, is excited by this prospect.

U.J. Craig, Rossarden, Shore Road, Cove