Your letters to The Buteman: March 25, 2016

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This week’s selection of your letters to The Buteman includes views on travel and tourism, more to-ing and fro-ing in the Scottish Parliament election campaign and Dunoon councillor Michael Breslin’s reaction to being cleared after a complaint by fellow councillors.

If you’d like to have your say on any issue of interest to Bute, email by 5pm on Monday to make it into our next print edition.

Please include your name and address for publication, and also a daytime phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice (though the latter will not be printed).

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‘Risk of becoming the island that time forgot’

In response to Catherine McLean’s letter last week, there is not one part of Bute I have not roamed, from Ballochgoy to Ettrick Bay, from the Straad to the lighthouse at Kilchattan Bay. To say I have a Glasgow address, and therefore know nothing about the Clyde, never mind Rothesay, is nonsense.

Bute has the best views over the Clyde that you will ever see, from the Sleeping Warrior on Arran to Inchmarnock. This is a sleeping giant on the tourist map for hikers and this is where you should be promoting the island.

Yes, we have Mount Stuart, but the rest of the island has more to offer - fishing, golf, cycling, camping, walking. It’s got to be the best island to roam, so ScotRail, VisitScotland, Mount Stuart, Argyll and Bute Council, land-owners, CalMac (or Serco, if they win the contract), need to sit around the table and make prices affordable to all, making the island of Bute the jewel in the crown of the west coast.

Even sailing around the island is a must. Rothesay Castle is a must to visit, as is Bute Museum, but the cost of getting to and from the island is where the problem lies.

Until then, my opinion is that this island will become the island that time forgot.

Stephen Johnstone, 3/1, 568 Paisley Road West, Ibrox, Glasgow

A nasty and vindictive complaint

As was reported in last week’s issue of The Buteman, I was cleared of what I have called a nasty and vindictive complaint against me by Cllrs Dick Walsh, Len Scoullar and Ellen Morton.

The whole thrust of their complaint to the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland was based on an allegation that I didn’t declare an interest in the case of Calum McMillan and the issues he has had over Rothesay Harbour.

That interest was, according to them, that I had a “close relationship” with Mr McMillan.

The three councillors made this untruthful allegation five times. If they wanted to find out whether it was true, all they had to do was ask, but instead they wasted a lot of public money on an 18-month investigation.

Cllr Scoullar was quoted in the press last week as saying that he had not yet been advised of the decision.

This is remarkable; the letter I got from the Commissioner, dated February 26, telling me I had been cleared, stated that “I have informed the complainants and the council”. Perhaps the Royal Mail only delivers to Rothesay every six months or so.

This nasty and vindictive complaint is what may await anyone who decides to stand as a councillor and, like me, there will be legal costs to be borne as well. I doubt I will get the apology I deserve from these three shameless councillors.

Cllr Michael Breslin (Independent, Dunoon), St Colmac’s, Toward

Lenten lunches at St Paul’s Church

May I, through your columns, thank all those who supported the Lenten Lunches held at St Paul’s Church Hall over the last few weeks. A cheque for £815 will be sent to Christian Aid as a result.

Sheila Murray, Janette Cottage, Townhead, Rothesay

Candidates share common ground

Labour candidate Mick Rice’s first action on being selected was to launch a personal attack on me (Letters to the Editor, March 18).

This was a pity, because I agree with many of his policies, such as a stronger Scotland within a federal UK and replacing the House of Lords with an elected second chamber.

We should work together, not attack each other.

I also agree with Mr Rice’s admission that his chance of winning the election is “fairly remote”.

At last year’s UK general election, I increased my vote, while the Tory and Labour votes collapsed. This meant the SNP leapfrogged into first place.

The main national issue in this election is whether or not to have another independence referendum.

I am opposed to this, and if people want to vote for the candidate best placed to stop the SNP holding another referendum, then the result of last year’s election shows that they should vote for me.

Instead of having yet another referendum, I want to concentrate on running effective public services, improving our schools and NHS.

Last week you quoted Dr McDevitt, chair of the British Medical Association’s Scottish GP Committee, saying that the crisis facing the GP sector is urgent.

This is the main problem we need to tackle, not holding another independence referendum.

Alan Reid (Liberal Democrat candidate, Argylland Bute), 136 Fairhaven, Dunoon

Ellen’s Scottish Cot Death Trust walk

I wish to thank all the kind members of the public who gave so generously to my sponsored walk on February 26 in aid of the Scottish Cot Death Trust.

Thanks to all the businesses friends and neighbours who donated, and particularly to my own family - especially Danny, one of my four young grandsons, who emptied his piggy bank and gave me £10.12 and did so happily.Thank you to Tom for doing without my presence for the day during my 17-mile walk to Rothesay and back.

A big thank you to Mike of Bute Island Radio for giving me air space both before and after the event.

Last but not least, my thanks to The Buteman’s news team - to Craig for his initial encouragement and publicity and to Karen for meeting up with me on the day of my walk- I very much enjoyed her cheerful chat.

Now the important part: the final total raised from donations to my walk is £1,210.62. Now my hope is that all of this is put to good use by the Scottish Cot Death Trust at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow: if we save just one baby to start with,it will keep the light shining for a mum and dad. Thank you for your support.

Ellen Cromack, Pier View, Kilchattan Bay

A terrific library facility in Rothesay

In launching the new social enterprise ‘Takeaway Creative’ as part of the Vital Spark initiative for Bute and the wider Argyll area, I was able to make use of the wonderful public library in Rothesay on Saturday, March 12.

I want to send my heartfelt thanks to Patricia McArthur and the team at the library for their professional and practical help and warm welcome in setting up the drop in and launch.

The library is a vital community facility with broadband, quiet areas for study, computer facilities, detailed information on the area and much, much more.

Fiona Page (founder, Takeaway Creative), Tigh na Ceardaich, Colintraive

What is SNP stance on tax and spending?

The Chancellor, George Osborne, announced details in his Budget last week of an increase in the higher rate tax threshold to £45,000, and lifted thousands more out of tax altogether by raising the personal allowance.

In the Scottish Parliament the next day, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson urged Nicola Sturgeon to ensure these tax cuts were passed on to hardworking Scots from April 2017.

However, the SNP leader signalled she was not prepared to do this, meaning both her party and Labour will seek to have higher taxes in Scotland than the rest of the UK.

Does the SNP stand for lower taxes and smaller government, or higher taxes and more spending?

I believe higher taxes in Scotland would be bad for our country and would start an exodus of talent to the rest of our United Kingdom.

Labour has one stance, and the Scottish Conservatives a very different one, but at least both take a stance.

The SNP seems to have one stance: blame everything bad in Scotland on Westminster and try to take credit for everything good that happens north of the border.

The SNP needs to start using the powers it has, rather than dodging the tough decisions all governments need to make.

Alastair Redman, 23 Shore Street, Portnahaven, Islay

What is life like for Scotland’s carers in 2016?

A total of 759,000 people across Scotland are currently caring, unpaid, for a disabled, seriously ill or older family member or friend.

We know caring can be a rewarding experience but without the right support many carers find themselves facing financial hardship, ill-health, emotional stress, relationship breakdown and isolation.

Carers Scotland wants to find out what life is like for people caring for a loved one in 2016. The charity has launched its State of Caring 2016 survey, giving carers an opportunity to have their say on the good and the bad – what is working well and what needs to change.

Your views will help Carers Scotland to make life better for carers by informing our advice services, campaigns and policy work.

Carers have until Friday, April 15 to complete the survey, which can be found online at

Following the Holyrood election on Thursday, May 5, a new Scottish Parliament will be looking at its agenda and priorities, so it has never been more important to let us know what matters to you.

Simon Hodgson (director, Carers Scotland), Carers UK, 20 Great Dover Street, London

Life After Stroke Awards for 2016

After the devastating moment when a stroke strikes, the healing process can last a lifetime. It takes mettle, tenacity and patience, not only from the survivor but family, friends, and medical professionals to reassemble the fragments of yourself.

The Life After Stroke Awards recognise the courage of stroke survivors and their supporters everywhere. If you know an undaunted stroke survivor or a remarkable carer, please nominate that person for a Life After Stroke Award today.

There are around 121,000 stroke survivors living in Scotland, which means there are a lot of unsung heroes who deserve recognition.

Nominations for the awards are open until April 30, 2016. For more information, go to

Andrew Marr, on behalf of The Stroke Association, 240 City Road, London