Your letters to The Buteman: March 11, 2016

What do you think? Contact us with your views on this article by emailing
What do you think? Contact us with your views on this article by emailing

The latest batch of readers’ letters to The Buteman includes your views on homelessness, the Clyde and Hebdrides ferry tendering process, littering and Britain’s energy future.

You can add your views on any subject of interest to Bute by emailing - if your letter reaches us by 5pm on Monday we’ll consider it for inclusion in our next print edition.

Please provide your name and address for publication, and also a daytime telephone number in case we need to contact you at short notice (though the latter will not be printed).

* * * * * * * * *

Bute is ideal for ex-service personnel

My letter of two weeks ago appears to have been misconstrued.

The point I was making is that on Bute there are empty one bedroomed flats and they would be ideal for anyone, especially ex service personel, looking to make a fresh start.

I never at any point said there were ex servicemen living on our streets, only that as we have the two organisations here, they would be able to help .

I, like many households, am inundated with requests for financial support from charities including Shelter and Salvation Army who are out there day in, day out, helping the homeless throughout Scotland not just Argyll and Bute.

This is a point which was illustrated on Radio Scotland when it discussed the rising tide of the homeless after a survey carried out by Shelter.

So it proves that due to job losses and factory closures across Scotland that not all people are like Dick Whittington and head to London thinking the streets are paved with gold.

It has always been said that people in the lower income bracket are only one pay packet away from being homeless .

This is validated by the rise in people having to use our own local food bank , which some thought was not necessary .

I fully understand SSAFA do good work and advertise on Facebook and other media to research and ensure that people are genuine and not making bocus claims. But the homeless are of no fixed abode and therefore not eligible for benefits, and probably do not have access to Facebook, etc .

Which is why I queried if anyone had contacted these charities to ask did they know of anyone needing help .

Julie Scarff, 63G Castle Street, Port Bannatyne

Serco would be a better choice to run services

Regarding the possible takeover of CalMac ferry services by Serco, it’s not just the taxpaying public who will be affected by the outcome of the tendering process. The jobs the operator brings help to stabilise the islands.

You and I know that if it wasn’t for the subsidies CalMac get there would be few boats and the cost of travelling to and from the islands, not just Bute, would be horrendous.

However, costs have to be addressed, and maybe Serco will throw us a lifeline and provide sailings that suit everyone. Why can’t services go to Dunoon, Wemyss Bay and Gourock like the old days, instead of having one boat crossing to each island? It might take a bit longer but to me it makes sense.

Also Serco may not at times have more staff than passengers on the boats. This is the problem CalMac have - they are top-heavy and sinking fast. They need to explain why they have all these members they don’t need. Through natural redundancies and revising services to all destinations, I think Serco would be the better operator.

Perhaps they might go one better and close the Colintraive route and stick to providing Bute ferries only to Rothesay.

The Colintraive service was needed at one time, but not any more. Providing services direct between Dunoon and Rothesay would benefit both towns and boost tourism.

Ferry services cost the taxpayera fortune, and yet towns like Rothesay and Dunoon are still struggling.

I am not saying Serco would be perfect, but to my mind CalMac is sinking without any lifeboats in sight, so all aboard for Serco and let’s end this carry-on.

Stephen Johnstone, 568 Paisley Road West, Ibrox, Glasgow

Does SNP have something to hide?

CalMac’s managing director claims he has submitted an outstanding bid to keep the contract to run the Clyde and Hebridean ferry services.

He may or may not be right, but the bid is secret, so the rest of us have no way of knowing.

The SNP have handled this contract in a very secret way. Keeping back the announcement of the winner until after polling day surely means the SNP have something to hide.

Living in Dunoon, I am only too well aware of what happened to our CalMac ferry service.

Before the last Scottish elections, the SNP said they would announce details of that contract after polling day, but kept saying that they were “committed” to the continuation of a vehicle service.Shortly after polling day, however, they produced tiny passenger-only boats, known locally as the ‘bathtubs’.

That’s Dunoon’s experience of what the SNP says before polling day and what it does afterwards.

There’s no denying that CalMac have a lot of faults, their decision to exclude Bute from their ‘thousand free tickets’ promotion being a recent example.

However, CalMac have long experience of operating the west coast ferry routes. Serco have no experience of operating a ferry contract on this scale.

That’s one good reason why I’d give the contract to CalMac, rather than Serco, but the SNP’s view? That’s a secret.

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

Lib Dems not without blame on ferry issues

The reason the Liberal Democrats lost Argyll and Bute narrowly to the SNP’s Jim Mather in 2007 (in the last result announced, which gave the SNP the one seat that put it in Government) was the decade of Lib Dem obfuscation and waffle about the ferry service into Dunoon.

The fact that no boats had been commissioned as we approached that election, or had even been discussed at Government level despite years of promises (and the construction of a ro-ro facility for them), was well known to the people of Cowal, and the LibDem vote in this area collapsed, despite holding up everywhere else in Argyll and Bute.

I can provide the figures to show this if need be.

I share the anger most people in this area have about the ridiculous and unsuitable passenger-only service that has been inflicted on Dunoon, but I will not have Alan Reid suggesting that it is nothing to do with the Labour/LibDem administration that set this up by abandoning their many promises to us on this issue

I am rather more concerned however by Alan Reid’s attempt to disguise the Lib Dem result at the last Scottish election, in which they came in fourth with just over 3,000 votes.

Unless they can multiply that by four they won’t be challenging in Argyll and Bute. In fact they won’t be challenging anywhere if the evidence of their recent conference is anything to go by.

A legitimate and scary vote to allow fracking by a gathering of delegates in a sparsely attended conference has since been countermanded in panic by the LibDem leadership, which gives an accurate reflection of where that party currently is.

Dave McEwan Hill, 1 Tom nan Ragh, Dalinlongart, Sandbank

We need to clean up Britain’s litter

I am writing to you about an issue that I’m sure you are aware of.

As I make my way around on my bicycle, my road is lined with an almost constant ribbon of rubbish. Plastic bags, bottles, food containers, drink cans, furniture, mattresses, piles of builders’ waste, treated wood, tyres, asbestos, toilet paper...basically almost anything you can imagine.

It looks disgusting, it threatens our wonderful ecology, and, worst of all, if it is not picked up, natural processes will bury it underground, where it will remain hidden for thousands of years.

Sadly, despite the efforts of NGOs, litter picking groups and concerned individuals, this is evidently a battle which is being lost.

Collectively they simply cannot counter the out-pour, and the response from councils is generally marginal.

I’ve created a petition for the creation of a National Litter Clean-Up Scheme.

A simple and cheap solution, it calls for the creation of a nationwide, government-run, voluntary litter clean-up scheme, where publicly funded bodies are made responsible for planning, organising and implementing litter pick-ups.

The pick-ups would utilise volunteers and would be organised and controlled by the authority responsible for the area being cleaned on any particular campaign.

If you care for what you’ve just read, then please take a few minutes to sign the petition, and please spread the word by any possible means – social media, magazines, word of mouth, pigeons etc.

You’ll find the petition at

If we truly value the beauty of where we live then we must be proactive, get out there and clean up this mess, and in doing so not only set an example to each other, but encourage the consideration that our planet so desperately needs.

Alex Thomson, Rotherfield Road, Crowborough, East Sussex

Power system left lifeless by closures

The UK power system can be likened to that of the human circulatory system as, by analogy, electricity is the life blood of the nation. Suck the blood out of a person and they will obviously perish.

In this modern age the same is now true of electricity. Sucking or diminishing electricity from the cables and wires of the power network and the UK will perish.

In the worse case scenario, the lack of electricity would see banks collapsing, supermarkets running out of food, vehicle service stations not functioning, chaos in navigation and communication, disruption of the internet and hospital services in peril – all bringing about a collapse of society.

Thus the continuing government closure of coal-fired power stations, nuclear stations, and, thanks to the latest climate summit, the government planning the closure of efficient and relatively cheap gas-fired (CCGT) power stations, will leave the country dependent on generation from renewables such as unpredictable wind farms, and ‘electricity only during daytime and clear skies’ solar parks.

Surely this is all comparable to Dracula sucking the lifeblood out of his victims? I must look much more closely next time ‘Call me Dave’ smiles. Will his slogan become “Fangs for voting for me”?

Dave Haskell (Author of ‘21st Century Electricity’), Brithdir, Cardigan