This week’s crop of Letters to the Editor includes observations on sport on Bute, school librarians, memories of holidays in Rothesay and more.
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 email@example.com.
Please note that due to the Christmas and New Year holiday period the deadlines for letters for our next two print editions are Monday, December 21 and Monday, December 28, both 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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Fond memories of Rothesay
My late husband, Willie, and I enjoyed many holidays on your beautiful island. Our first visit was in 1953 on a day boat excursion from Belfast, then 25 years later with two teenagers.
We had a camper-van, initially staying with the Wright family, later with John and Nessie McCallum on their campsite.
Every year we returned to Rothesay, our family grew up, but we kept coming back, often three or four times a year. We camped at Ettrick Bay and often stayed at the harbour (even receiving mail there!).
In past years we found camping more difficult due to my husband’s deteriorating health but we stayed in B&Bs and more lately in the lovely Glenburn Hotel.
Unfortunately events overtook us this year and Willie became too ill to travel, passing away in October.
We made so many good friends on the island and had so many shared memories with family and friends.
Bute has always been such a special place for us.
Thank you for all our happy times.
Adelaide Johnston, ‘Windermere’, 75 Church Road, Castlereagh, Belfast
‘Up to their old tricks’
I must clear up some matters raised by Mr McDonald (Letters, December 11).
I think that competition between providers is the best way to achieve quality services. However some services, such as the routes operated by CalMac, don’t generate enough demand to have two or more competing operators. That means the Scottish Government has to step in.
The unsuitable gangway at Gourock is not the responsibility of CalMac, but of CMAL, an agency of the SNP Government. Whether CalMac or Serco win the ferry contract, CMAL will still be responsible for providing the gangways and the port infrastructure at Gourock.
The reason for privatising Royal Mail was that it needed billions of pounds of investment to modernise its equipment due to lack of investment by successive governments.
The Government didn’t have the necessary spare cash, but the private sector did. In many parts of the country, Royal Mail is in competition with the private sector and it is only by making profits there, that it generates the cash to make deliveries to the more remote parts of the country.
I made sure, before Royal Mail was privatised, that the law said they must deliver and collect mail throughout the country six days a week. Before privatisation Royal Mail regularly phoned me, as the local MP, to make excuses for failing to meet their targets in the PA post code, but since privatisation they’ve always met their targets here. The threat of fines works wonders.
If Serco promised to invest millions of pounds in new vessels for CalMac, then I might change my mind, but they haven’t promised to do this, and the SNP Government have not included any such terms in the contract.
CalMac are not to blame for failing to find suitable vessels for the Dunoon-Gourock route. The SNP waited till after the election and then only gave them a few weeks to do so, so they had to grab whatever happened to be available during that short period.
The main point of my previous letter still stands. Immediately after winning the last Scottish election, the SNP imposed unsuitable vessels on Dunoon-Gourock. This time they are up to the same trick – keeping the announcement of the new ferry contract for Bute and other islands under wraps until after polling day. I am very concerned that an unpleasant surprise awaits us if the SNP get back in.
Alan Reid (Liberal Democrat candidate for Argyll and Bute), 136 Fairhaven, Dunoon
Cancer Research donations
My grateful thanks must go to the following for their recent kind donations to Cancer Research UK.
Remembering Bobby, always with love. Flora - £20;
Remembering Lyndsey - £20;
Collection from Maxwell Beattie’s funeral - £409.32;
Instead of Christmas cards, from James and Eileen Robertson, 2 Croc-An-Raer, Ettrick Bay - £40.
Co-operative store, Bridge Street x2 - £173.51; High Spirit Co. x2 - £75.97; Bute Tools - £120; Butterflies - £31.23; Electric Bakery x2 - £49.48; Ardbeg Mini Market - £23.93’ Ardbeg Post Office - £14.57; Zavaroni’s Cafe - £38.86; Richard McIntyre’s - £38.21; Good Things - £47.25; Taverna - £62.50.
Fiona Martin (donations secretary, Bute branch of CRUK), 4 Caledonia Walk, Rothesay
Only town in Argyll without tennis courts
What an excellent letter by Stan Gaston ”Bute lacks sport facilities for young” (Buteman, Friday, December 4 2015) ,in which he rightly highlights the quite horrendous once beautiful Meadows tennis courts.
It is a fact that Rothesay is the only town in Argyll and Bute Council area without tennis courts.
One has only to look at the superb all weather, floodlit courts at Helensburgh and Oban to see just what can be done.
I do know of some Bute enthusiastic tennis players who travel in the summer to Tighnabruaich (a village!) for a game.
On Saturday, December 5, I listened to a talk on Radio Scotland from the Head of Tennis Scotland and the manager of the new all weather tennis courts in Drumchapel who spoke of the hundreds of young people flocking to these courts - probably due to the success of Andy Murray and, as Mr Gaston quite rightly quotes, ‘Dunblane winning the Davis Cup’.
Perhaps therefore Andy - and his mummy, as she seems to accompany him everywhere!- could come to Rothesay to view this eyesore at the Meadows and hopefully urge some kind of action from Argyll and Bute Council who should hang their heads in shame.
Mr Gaston also writes about the low youth membership at Rothesay Golf Club, and that is indeed highlighted at Bute’s non-participation for years now at the annual Scottish Boys’ Open where there are always youths representing Cardross, Cowal, Dunaverty, Glencruitten and especially Machrihanish competing.
The future of all the sporting clubs in Bute is therefore on the line, and our island politicians - one of whom is a keen sportsman - simply must be urging future council investment.
Note - as a keen sports fan and ex-player, and like the editor of this newspaper, I also stood in driving rain twice on Saturday , November 28, at our Joint Campus watching our youth team (well done boys!) and Brandanes (oh dear! Can only get better!).
Kenneth P Colville, Lorne Lodge, Mountstuart Road, Rothesay
Save our school librarians
Argyll and Bute Council’s public consultation on options for budget cuts includes an option to stop employing librarians in secondary schools.
As I have mentioned previously, this option would damage the education of every single youngster in Argyll and Bute secondary schools.
The online petition at www.change.org/p/shout-out-for-school-librarians-in-argyll-and-bute has been signed by over 200 people in just four days.
They find it impossible to understand why a council would even consider this option.
On the www.facebook.com page ‘SABSL: Supporters of Argyll and Bute School Libraries’ young people explain the value of their school libraries.
A cut to qualified school librarians is a cut to all young people’s opportunities.
Let’s make a noise that our councillors will hear. Please sign the petition.
Let’s make sure that Argyll and Bute Council knows that this option is not an option for our communities.
Jenny Des Fountain, 2 Creagan Villa, Erray Road, Tobermory, Isle of Mull
Fuel poverty pressure can mount at Christmas
It’s that time of year when charities try to win from the additional generosity that often accompanies the Christmas spirit. It is a tough, competitive place to be, with so many good causes that could do with a little help.
But it’s also the time of year to shout out about the issue of fuel poverty.
Research from the charity Turn2us, as part of its No Cold Homes campaign, has shown that half of those on lower incomes are struggling with the cost of heating their home, with one in five experiencing stress or other mental health issues as a result.
It’s a complex problem - one that cannot be seen through the prism of ‘cost of energy versus cost of living’ alone. Turn2us found that only 12 per cent of those struggling have spoken to their energy provider and a third haven’t told friends or family. Those struggling are often the least likely to take steps to apply for support, which can add to the spiral of debt and depression.
It’s therefore so important that we get the message out to as many people as possible that asking for help can make a difference.
The link between mental health issues and poverty is not new, but as we go into the festive season the pressure can mount. It’s not uncommon to be worried about money at Christmas, but when it impacts on your physical or mental health it’s too heavy a price to pay. Find out about financial help available at turn2us.org.uk/NoColdHomes.
Alastair Campbell. Turn2us, 200 Shepherds Bush Road, London
Macmillan’s plans for Bute hospital
May l, through your letters page give an update on what the Bute Branch of Macmillan Cancer Support, Fund Raising group are planning for the future?
We hope to raise sufficient funds to refurbish the two Special Care rooms in the Victoria Hospital which will entail the provision of soft, good quality comfortable furnishings to provide a special environment for patients and their loved ones.
We have been encouraged by donations already given, for which we are grateful, and hope we can achieve our aim with the help of the generous caring people of Bute.
The provision of these Special Care rooms will help the hospital’s team to offer a comfortable caring environment for families at a very difficult time.
Beverley Scoullar (chair, Bute fund-raising branch of Macmillan Cancer Support), 45 Craigmore Road, Rothesay