Your letters to The Buteman: September 18, 2015

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

The threat of terrorism, the partial demolition of Rothesay’s former West Church and tributes to and from the Bute in Bloom community group following their Beautiful Scotland awards success all feature in the latest crop of Buteman readers’ letters.

If you’d like to comment on any of the topics raised, or any subject of interest to Bute, drop an email to news@buteman.com by 5pm on Monday at the latest - 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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Who is really responsible for terror attacks?

At the end of his article ‘We cannot fail in Syria’ (The Buteman, September 11), Hugh Moodie maintains: “There are 16 billion (sic) Muslims in the world, yet only two per cent of terror attacks are carried out in the name of Islam.”

Mr Moodie is probably quoting Interpol’s European 2013 terrorist statistics, which in fact show that no terror attacks in Europe were religiously motivated, and applying this figure worldwide.

This is incorrect, and I accordingly draw readers attention to the University of Maryland Global Terrorism Database, which reveals that seven of the top ten ten countries for terror attacks in 2013 have majority Muslim populations and that Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan account for 67 per cent of the 9,737 recorded attacks. Whatever the worldwide figure for terror attacks in the name of Islam actually is, it is almost certainly not two per cent, and Mr Moodie is being disingenuous to his his own argument by using such distorted numbers.

On the same subject, regardless of my general agreement that the immigration crisis provides an opportunity for Bute, am I alone in finding the stereotyping of people in last week’s editorial comment quite objectionable? After all, descriptions of people as “feckless, narrow-minded wasters”, based solely on country of origin, are surely not part of a civilised society?

Michael Burke, Ascog Hall, Ascog

Still a chance to show a ‘can do’ attitude

Finally the decision to partially demolish the West Church has been taken.

‘Finally’ being a week before the last Bute and Cowal area committee meeting of September 1 – a meeting from which the public was excluded and a meeting to which the small preservation group was not invited to attend.

The costs of fully mothballing the property were estimated to be between £100,000 and £200,000 (why couldn’t we be told this?). Astronomical to some, not unreasonable to others for preserving a building that has graced the Rothesay skyline for 170 years. The decision was taken in private with no supporting evidence other than it is now ‘unsafe’.

We are told that there is no community support for saving the building and that ‘the majority of people’ (that one councillor claims to have spoken to) wanted it demolished.

But how does the decision to demolish the building sit with the same council decision to support a second Townscape Heritage bid which – and you couldn’t make it up – is likely to run from the town centre out towards the Pavilion, itself subject to restoration?

This island is in danger of becoming one of permanently low aspiration. There are laudable efforts – in the vacuum of political leadership and drive – to bring various organisations, businesses and public sector (on and off the island) together, to galvanise the town and the island to make something happen. The SURF-led Alliance for Action is one, the Isle of Bute Trust another. Yet there needs to be a much greater “can do” attitude on the island, or else further decline is likely.

People need to be able (and want) to live, work and study here – and to be inspired by their surroundings – lest the island continue to lose services, an inevitable consequence of de-population.

There remains a chance to save the spire of the church. It may too be deemed ‘unsafe’ – and the decision to save or demolish returns.

I would urge anyone interested in retaining the spire to come forward and make themselves known – and a community interest company or similar can be formed.

This is not an ‘either or’ choice between dialysis units and the West Church – an unhelpful comparison – and, for the record, there has been virtually no spend of taxpayers money (bar the demolition) to date.

Richard Whitcomb, 40 Mountpleasant Road, Rothesay

Demolition is a lost opportunity

As a member of the group trying to save the West Church, it’s a bit disappointing that the building seems to have generated so much negative press over the last few issues.

Was it not so long ago the same cries went up over Guildford Square - a collection of buildings of little architectural interest?

They were seen as a ruin, and the gap site an eyesore, with demolition of sections of the square a popular option. But here we are now, with some cash pumped in through the THI, and now it’s our pride and joy.

The West Church has a fine steeple, erected in 1847 by noted Glasgow architect Charles Wilson. It is an excellent example of the stonemason’s work, and when it’s gone it’s going to be replaced with nothing more exciting than a car park, the main contribution of the 20th and 21st centuries to the archaeological history of the future.

The preservation group does appreciate the extended history of the property, and the neglect the building has suffered since 1978, and we acknowledge the council has no responsibility for the building until it is made their responsibility.

But when a repair/demolition order is made against the building, they seem to have jumped quickly in one direction and to the exclusion of any other options.

It’s surprising that the matter was dealt with in a very 1970s council smoke-filled- room sort of a manner, with the public and the press excluded. No information on the costs of the various options was made available to the public or the preservation group.

However, it’s a lesson on how quickly the council can move when it feels it needs to. Contract awarded (no tendering process?), scaffolding up and roof slate removal completed in less than 14 days - pretty smart work, and there’s no going back now.

The preservation group had been in communication with the council over possible uses for the building. Various schemes were developed, which might have included a climbing wall and youth club, allowing the children of Bute of that age group to vacate the bus shelter, the Cabbies’ Rest and to avoid endlessly walking round the block during winter nights, but none of that will now come to pass.

Finally, remember that after the demolition a large flock of feral pigeons will be looking for a new home. They are brazen invaders of any home, through open windows, and they are very messy.

Georgina Denholm, Chapelhill Villa, Rothesay

Community deserves a huge ‘thank you’

The community will probably know by now that Bute in Bloom won five major prizes, including the coveted Rose Bowl, the top award, in the Beautiful Scotland awards this week.

The presenter was lavish in his praise, based on the judges’ report, on the majority of our projects.

Our much- lauded Esplanade gardens and Ardencraig Nursery were described as “having a ‘wow’ effect”, and the Community Participation award is certainly a feather in our cap, as it is not only based on the work of our regular stalwarts, but also took into consideration our work with schoolchildren at Mount Stuart, theinvolvement of young people through the HELP Project, the involvement of the schoolchildren in the Name The Rabbitcompetition, Beachwatch Bute and the involvement of the council’s parks team. The involvement of the Bute Youth Forum volunteers, Reeni, Ronnie and Rab and the team from Bute Produce, Fyne Futures, Argyll College and Zero Carbon Bute was also invaluable.

The involvement of the community in the extra floral presentations, and sponsorship from individuals, businesses and traders, was also commented on favourably.

The backing of Joe McCabe and his Argyll and Bute Council team was invaluable and appreciated by the entire local Bute in Bloom team.

As a group which has no regular financial backing, the sponsors of Bute in Bloom’s projects are an outstanding asset, with Bute Tools and Bute Pet Supplies also being very generous, while For Bute’s generosity is very much appreciated.

These awards were not only won for the community but, largely, by the community. So to everyone concerned, whether I have mentioned, or inadvertently missed you, very well done and a massive ‘thank you’.

Although the competition culminates in August there are manyevents and projects throughout the year arranged by our chair, Jessica Herriot.

Iain Gillespie (secretary, Bute in Bloom), 37 East Princes Street, Rothesay

Magnificent success of Bute in Bloom

Bute’s three councillors are extremely proud of all who contributed to the magnificent success achieved by the island at the Beautiful Scotland awards this week. The effort put in by the various community groups involved was tremendous, especially this year, with the inclement weather making the task of achieving such a high standard more difficult.

For such a place, with a relatively small population, to come out tops against other towns which have far more resources says it all.

Cllrs Robert Macintyre, Len Scoullar and Isobel Strong, Argyll and Bute Council, Kilmory, Lochgilphead

Help sought with Bute cycling festival

The Bute Wheelers are appealing to the island’s farms to help with the condition of the roads for this year’s Isle of Bute Festival of Cycling, over this coming weekend of September 19 and 20.

A road race on the main island loop will take place between 1.15pm and 4pm on Saturday; on Sunday morning there is a race between Ettrickdale and Rhubodach; and on Sunday afternoon another race goes twice around the main island loop from 1.30pm to around 4.30pm.It is expected that the races will be especially busy this year, in particular for the Sunday afternoon.

This request relates mostly to the various forms of ‘cycling hazards’ that tend to feature outside some farm or field exits: muck, rocks etc. Bute is generally a fantastic location for road racing, but this is one issue that can be a cause for concern.

On the Saturday we are also hosting a cyclo-cross event around the Meadows park perimeter/Lover’s Walk area, between 5pm-6.30pm. We would very much appreciate if dog-walkers etc. could give this area a wide berth for this short time. We would be very grateful for any help with this, for these dates.

As always spectators are welcome, in particular for The Meadows event which will have some kids’ amusements.

Finally we can’t have too many marshals for this weekend, so any volunteers - or anyone with questions about the weekend in general - can contact me on (01700) 503011.

Murray Doyle, 30 Shore Road, Port Bannatyne