Letters to The Buteman: August 22, 2014

Write to: Letters to the Editor, The Buteman, 5 Victoria Street, Rothesay, Isle of Bute PA20 0AJ. You can also email your letters to news@buteman.com.
Write to: Letters to the Editor, The Buteman, 5 Victoria Street, Rothesay, Isle of Bute PA20 0AJ. You can also email your letters to news@buteman.com.

This week’s selection of your contributions to The Buteman’s letters page includes observations on renewable energy, vandalism and the latest addition to Bute Museum’s exhibits, as well as the ongoing depate over Scotland’s independence referendum.

If you’d like to see your thoughts on any issue of importance to Bute appearing in print in our letters page, email your views to news@buteman.com (or click on the email address at the top of this story). Please keep your contributions as brief and to-the-point as possible - and remember to include your name and address for publication and a daytime phone number in case we need to clarify anything quickly.

The deadline for submissions to our print edition is 5pm on Monday - but the sooner you get in touch, the better are your chances of seeing your letter in print!

Still no real answers from Yes campaign

Jim Mitchell’s epic piece (Letters, August 1) is a classic SNP format: a few interesting snippets, a couple of ‘baddies’ in the shape of Maggie and nuclear weapons, and the affirmation that once Scotland is free of the yoke of Westminster oppression she will be home free. But not a word in answer to the issues and questions that will really hurt the living standards of the people of Scotland.

The current additional £1,100 per head funding that Scotland receives from Westminster will go.

However much Mr Salmond chooses to deny it, Scotland will not keep the poundsterling, and will be forced to create a ‘shadow’ Scots pound.

Scotland carries and will need hundreds of billions of pounds of debt and borrowing, and will have to pay a higher interest rate than the UK as a whole. This will cost an independent Scotland £1-1.5bn each year in additional interest alone.

Interest rates for loans, overdrafts and mortgages will also rise as a result, deterring business and taking money out of the household budget.

On EU membership, it is likely that an independent Scotland will be allowed in, but unlikely that it will enjoy the seamless transition the SNP imagines.

How long will it take, what will be the tariffs on Scottish goods in the meantime and what will be the eventual deal?

All these unknowns will deter investment.

The SNP plans to attract 24,000 immigrants, skilled workers and entrepreneurs, to strengthen the economy. Given higher interest rates and uncertain taxes, the reverse is more likely to happen.

Another part of making the numbers add up is to increase productivity, output per head, by two per cent.

This doesn’t sound much but given that productivity in the UK has flatlined for years, where is the investment and incentive coming from?

Mr Salmond has stated that it will cost £250 million to set up the new departments and systems of state currently covered by UK. This includes a whole new tax, revenue and funding system, new departments of defence, foreign affairs, plus many other functions currently provided by the UK.

Independent assessment of this cost is ten times this sum.

A vote for independence will cost every Scottish resident dear for the foreseeable future. Unless you are happy to pay £40 a week for an independent Scotland the answer must be No.

Peter Vincent, Ardencraig House, High Craigmore, Rothesay

Community misconceptions over Bute Community Power

Over recent weeks The Buteman has reported news on Bute Community Power (BCP)’s activities but there are still a number of misconceptions in the community which have been expressed in letters to the editor. We wish to put the record straight.

BCP was set up as a legal entity in November 2013, with a steering group of local people. We are a Bute based community benefit society with a registered office in Rothesay.

A community benefit society is a type of co-operative but is run for the benefit of the wider community, not just its members.

BCP’s objectives are to build and operate renewable energy projects and to allocate the profits to a fund to be invested in local community projects. BCP’s aim is to operate various renewable technologies but only at locations suitable for them.

Our target is ambitious; via a number of projects we hope to generate £5 million profit over a 25 year period to be reinvested in Bute. We see this as an important contribution to reversing the decline and depopulation of Bute.

The first proposed project is to build a small wind power facility sited at Auchentirrie farm. An independent consultancy firm (Locogen) has been appointed to undertake a detailed feasibility study and, if the project is viable, to guide the project through the planning process.

Once planning permission has been obtained, BCP will seek to raise the money to build the project by a community share offer. The community of Bute will have an opportunity to invest in BCP and will earn interest on the shares they have. The minimum investment will be £1.

We hope to raise all the money for the project from the local community. The bigger the community’s investment, the greater will be the money available for community benefit because less of the profit will have to be used to repay loans and interest.

BCP is not an elite organisation. All the board of directors are unpaid volunteers and any member of the local community can become a voting member for the price of a single £1 share, provided they support the objectives of BCP.

Current plans include the creation of a separate community trust fund to manage the reinvestment of BCP profits into the local community, but this and other important matters will be finally decided by the members of BCP.

To get more factual information and updates about BCP please visit our website at www.bcp.coop.

BCP’s aims are to earn income from renewable energy which will be used to benefit the local community, and we want to give everyone an opportunity to participate in the decision making.

Come and join us! Application forms are available from Maeve’s Lucky Box and Boyd Alexander, project manager, can be contacted at admin@bcp.coop or on 01700 503181.

John Rushworth, Reeni Kennedy-Boyle and Jim Osborne (Directors, Bute Community Power), 81 Victoria Street, Rothesay

New brewery is more than an asset for Bute

On Friday I was lucky enough to sample the first batch of Bute beer on the day it went on sale in Kingarth. I do not recall drinking a better pint on Bute in a decade, and I have had some recent disappointments.

The brewery is more than just an asset for Bute. With others already in Arran and Ardkinglas, it can be the beginning of the realisation of one of Scottish Green Party’s hopes for West Highland tourism: a series of microbreweries along the major tourist routes.

We are told by the priests of the Church of Adam Smith that ‘competition’ and ‘choice’ are what is best for us, but collaborative marketing can help build the quality image for Scottish food and drink and tourism that Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Highlands are striving for.

Quality is a niche market, but seldom an unprofitable one.

Microbreweries are a fine thing by themselves, but by supporting other food and drink production, and tourism in all its aspects, the whole Highland economy including the microbreweries themselves can benefit.

We are all in it together.

John B. Dick, Glendaruel, Ardencraig Road, Rothesay

Where did knocking stone come from?

Further to the article in your August 15 issue on the delivery of an old ‘knocking stone’ to Bute Museum, I remember seeing one while on a Life Boys’ camp at Kilchattan Bay in 1938.

One day we were taken to St Blane’s Chapel and told about the history of the site, and I distinctly remember seeing a ‘knocking stone’ there.

Before it was used as a hotel, Foley House was the home of the Bute Estate’s factor: I do not know whether the St Blane’s Chapel stone is still there, but if it is not, could this be the one that has now ended up at the Museum?

There was also an old well located near the chapel, with lots of old ‘thruppenny bits’ at the bottom. I was all for going down there and retrieving them but the camp leader, Captain Ross, wouldn’t let me because he thought the water might me contaminated.

On a separate issue, being a veteran and a member of the British Legion, I attended the service at the Cenotaph on Friday to mark the hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World War.

Although Provost Scoullar laid a wreath at the memorial on behalf of the council, I was disappointed to see he was not wearing his official chain of office. Why was this?

Jim McKellar, 41 East Princes St, Rothesay

Disappointing to see Port plant boxes hit

How disappointing to see five of the handrail-mounted plant boxes at Port Bannatyne have been damaged by wanton vandalism. These, and the wall-mounted boxes, are paid for through donations and fund-raising and have been admired by visitors and locals alike. Hopefully the moronic perpetrators were bored young visitors who won’t return to our beautiful island. We do not need them.

Iris Ellis (Port Bannatyne Village Enhancement Group), 28 Marine Rd, Port Bannatyne