Your letters to The Buteman: January 23, 2015

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'.

General Election fever is starting to gather pace ahead of the May 7 poll - with the contents of this week’s Buteman letters page offering further confirmation of the fact.

In addition to criticism of, and praise for, local Lib Dem MP Alan Reid, there’s also a letter from Mr Reid himself attacking the Scottish Government - and, on a different note, questions over Rothesay’s flood defences and a ‘thank you’ message from the local fund-raising branch of the RNLI.

If you’d like to see your thoughts in the next print edition of The Buteman, make them as brief and to-the-point as you can and email them to news@buteman.com by 5pm on Monday at the latest - though remember that the earlier we receive your letter, the better are its chances of being published.

Remember also that we need your name and address for publication, and a daytime telephone number in case we need to check anything at short notice, though the latter will not be printed.

Where is town’s pump system?

I noted with dismay the pictures posted on Facebook recently showing the flooding in the town.

Comments were made about the sea wall, blocked drains , etc., but I note no one has commented about the pump system being non-functional.

When the sea wall defences were put in, there were valves and pumps added into the design to prevent what is currently happening: the storm surge, combined with high tide and heavy rain means the water is not going anywhere but back up the drains and flooding the town.

The reason they are not being used to prevent this? Because they obviously remain in the same state as they were the last time this happened.

They were broken last year when the seafront became a paddling pool while the ferries floated level with the pier. Having never previously been used since being installed, they were found to be useless when needed.

Had the council, or whoever has the responsibility to maintain the town’s defences, managed to fix the system after the last time it proved ineffective because of lack of maintenance, the town would likely not be looking quite so soggy.

The water in Guildford Square might look amazing, shocking, maybe even picturesque in a way, but it all costs the businesses affected by flooding time and money to get back on their feet after being swept off them by the tide once again.

If this becomes an annual event, I doubt even the hardiest of business owner will be wanting to spend however long each year drying carpets, cleaning floors, throwing out ruined stock and wringing out the cat.

Victoria Street may become a no-go area for those without webbed feet and a hardy attitude to tidally affected rising damp.

With the coming discussions in Holyrood regarding the depopulation of Argyll and Bute, maybe the local council should be investing more time in fixing and maintaining the town’s flood defences than figuring out what biscuits they will have at the next council meeting.

I believe that would be a far more beneficial use of their time, although it may mean biscuits without chocolate in the council chambers. Mind you, at least they wouldn’t be soggy.

Here’s hoping a second year of floods and misery will prompt some sort of action to prevent the same thing happening again. And again.

Margaret McKenzie, Stratford Rd, Hall Green, Birmingham
Lib Dem MP under fire...

The gift that keeps on giving: that seems to be the policy of Alan Reid and the Liberal Democrats.

In the past few weeks we have heard from the Craigs from Cove and their consistent defence of Alan Reid and his party.

The Craigs and others spend far too much energy in wasted attempts to belittle any condemnation of Alan Reid for his support of the bedroom tax and other policies. Yet just a few weeks ago, he confirmed his support himself, without anyone having to reaffirm it.

His justification of why he voted to keep the bedroom tax? “There is a housing shortage and it would not be right for people of working age to be getting housing benefit for spare rooms they do not need...”

The housing crisis is not in Argyll and Bute at all, but in the south east of England. The only conclusion that can be made, which must also be clear to even Mr Reid’s staunchest supporters, is that he is a bedroom tax supporter. Mr Reid supported the privitisation of the Royal Mail, reasoning that privatisation is the only way in which we can secure the Universal Service Obligation.

Yet in recent months he has been calling for the guarantee, concluding that the previous guarantee was not actually guaranteed. Very similar to the guarantee that there would be no rise in university fees?

The only policy I can even give any remote credit to Alan Reid and the Lib Dems is their policies on overseas aid, which is highly commendable, but I am firmly of the belief that charity does and should begin at home.

Food bank use has more than doubled year on year since the coalition government and child poverty rates currently stand at 26 per cent, with many being in working families. An utter disgrace for which Reid must be ashamed.

Yet he continues to prop up Tory austerity policies, aided and abetted by his Labour chums, who have become so far removed from the realities of life at the bottom for our most vulnerable.

In the meantime the Scottish Government will pick up the tab by mitigating the bedroom tax and by giving our councils more funding to enable a freeze on the council tax which benefits the most hard working families in Scotland.

This is money that should be better utilised elsewhere, such as improving the disgraceful demise in elderly care provision which is the single biggest contributor to NHS waiting times.

Surely it’s time Mr Reid spent his time and energy looking after the interests of his constituents on Westminster issues, a job in which he has drastically failed? 
Those who voted for him to ensure we did not get a Tory MP have been bitterly disappointed, as that is just exactly what they got, a Tory.

Our poor, our vulnerable, our disabled, our pensioners and our needy deserve much better. They deserve a voice.

Hugh Moodie, 12 Bryce Avenue, Rothesay

...and SNP is also attacked

It is only fair that in the run up to the general election that the SNP has the opportunity to present its case in TV and radio debates aimed at the Scottish electorate.

Debates help inform those who will have the opportunity to vote for parties taking part in the debate about policies, options and choices.

What, of course, would be neither fair nor democratic would be for the SNP to be given a place in a television general election debate for UK leaders to be broadcast throughout the UK.

Since the SNP do not intend having candidates standing in English, Welsh and Northern Ireland constituencies, more than 90 per cent of viewers would have no opportunity to vote for them.

The case for not having SNP involvement in a UK-level debate is as the First Minister said, “unanswerable”.

Of course, the SNP hope that by peddling their populist, non-costed, over-optimistic, simplistic policies they will attract sufficient support in Scotland to potentially hold the balance of power.

Once again the SNP will say anything, do anything, and apply any tactics to gain independence even by the back door.

The vast majority of people in Argyll and Bute voted to reject separation. Perhaps it is time to apply tactical voting to ensure a united kingdom. In Argyll and Bute, this means voting for Alan Reid, the hard working MP who puts his constituents’ needs first.

Finlay Craig, Rossarden, Shore Road, Cove

‘Rest’ needs commitment

I am very disappointed that the SNP are giving no new money for work on the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful.

All that they announced last Wednesday was that the work they promised last June for Strone Point and Glen Kinglas is still in the programme. This is just not good enough.

October’s closure at the Rest andBe Thankful showed that the ‘patch and mend’ work has not solved the problem. Earlier this month, warnings were issued that the road might have to be closed yet again because of dirty water flowing from the hillside.

It’s high time the SNP committed money for a proper solution for the Rest and Be Thankful, such as a new two-lane road on the other side of the glen. This would cost only a fraction of the cash left unspent in last year’s Scottish Government budget.

The SNP have the money available to construct a permanent solution at the Rest and Be Thankful, but they refuse to spend it. It’s high time they did.

Alan Reid MP (Liberal Democrat, Argyll & Bute), 95 Alexandra Parade, Dunoon

Thanks to RNLI supporters

On behalf of the Bute branch of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution I have to thank the staff and pupils at North Bute Primary School for their donation of £800 raised at their highly successful bring and buy sale in November. Their enthusiastic fundraising for the RNLI is appreciated by the crews who man our lifeboats around Scotland.

Additionally may I express our sincere thanks to Jean Johnson and Steven Osborne who, after their recent successful Bute Art’s Society Concert in Rothesay Academy, indicated that the RNLI would benefit from their fee for the concert, a truly magnificent gesture.

George McKenzie (hon. treasurer, Bute branch RNLI), Rubha nan Gall, 48 Ardbeg Road, Rothesay