This week’s crop of readers’ letters includes views on sport facilities on Bute, the Bute Oasis Christmas appeal, the West Church, the island’s new Syrian families, the economics of independence and thank-you messages from a local councillor, the Royal British Legion Scotland’s Bute branch and the island’s kidney patient support group.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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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Bute lacks sport facilities for young
As I watched Dunblane winning the Davis Cup on Sunday, my thoughts turned to the sporting opportunities on our island.
I would think the chances of another Andy Murray emerging from the disgrace that is the Meadows tennis courts are pretty slim.
We seem to have money to spend on other good causes but we need major investment on the island’s youth. If a young person on this island wishes to play tennis, is this actually possible?
I am a member of Rothesay Golf Club: our junior membership, despite our best efforts is at an all time low. We struggle to keep our club going and cannot afford to buy much needed practice equipment, i.e nets, mats and a indoor facility for long winters.
Some input would attract young people to the sport. If we do not achieve this I worry for the future of not only my club but other sporting clubs on the island.
Perhaps those at the helm of our islands politics should consider the opportunities for our young people.
We need investment and quickly.
Stan Gaston, 31 Battery Place, Rothesay
Bute attitude is beacon of light in a grim world
In the midst of all the horrific news from Paris two weekends ago, the national newspaper coverage of the forthcoming arrival of Syrian refugees on Bute stood out as a beacon of hope and light in a grim world.
I am pleased that you stood your ground against the gainsayers who only want to help their own. Charity begins at home, they say, but it doesn’t have to end there!
I really hope the new residents of Bute will settle and be very happy on the island. There seem to be some very warm-hearted, caring people on Bute with positive ideas for bringing the community together, and I am sure everyone ultimately will benefit from this kindness to people who have lost so much.
We can hardly begin to imagine what people in Syria have endured in the last few years.
I have had the great good fortune to live and work in four continents, and have met with so much kindness while doing so. At 71 I still believe in the ‘do as you would be done by’ philosophy.
Too much time and emotion is being spent on being intolerant of the unfamiliar. This is a chance for the local community and the new arrivals to really demonstrate how much we are all connected by common feelings.
I wish all of you on Bute and elsewhere the very best of luck.
Maybe when I visit Bute one day I might find myself eating crowdie and couscous!
Patricia Barrett, 241 Bolton Road North, Ramsbottom, Lancashire
Chancellor lays bare reality of independence
Last week, the Chancellor presented his Autumn Statement. This showed what a narrow escape Scotland had from economic disaster last year.
If we had voted Yes in the referendum in 2014, John Swinney would be about to deliver the first budget for an independent Scotland. Because of the collapse in oil revenues, more than £7 billion less in tax would be available for him to spend.
This would mean cuts of more than one pound in ten in Scottish Government spending.
Vital spending on pensions, NHS and schools would be decimated. Unbelievably some people still think that independence would be a good idea.
I’d be interested to know what cuts they would make in order to balance the budget after independence.
Alan Reid (Liberal Democrat PSPC, Argyll and Bute), 136 Fairhaven, Dunoon
Bute Oasis festive hamper appeal launch
It’s almost Christmas...again! And as you may remember from last year, this is a time when we at Bute Oasis like to go that extra mile.
With your help we plan this year to provide 115 families with Christmas hampers who otherwise may go without, and for whom Christmas is not a time to look forward to. With your help we will do our best to make this Christmas a little more cheery.
Our hampers will include everything from a turkey (feathers not included!) to Christmas crackers and everything in between - yes, even those obligatory sprouts.
We will also be providing our normal food bank service over Christmas.
To help raise the funds we require, we have booked the cinema at the Isle of Bute Discovery Centre to show ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ on Sunday, December 13, and tickets are available in the Bute Oasis shop.
We will also be doing a bag-packing service in the Co-op this Saturday, December 5, and our fingers are crossed that all goes well.
Last year you all helped immensely and we hope you can all help again by donating gifts we can give to families with children (we have 76 children on our list this year).
We need gifts suitable for children all ages, from newborn up to 17 years.
Whether it’s a toy or even a selection box, anything you can give us will be greatly appreciated.
If gifts come wrapped, we would be grateful if you could label them with the correct age group and whether they are for a boy or a girl.
We will have a box at the side of our counter and a stocking for any cash donations, which will go a long way to helping us get all the things we need.
We will be delivering our hampers on December 23, with help from our volunteers and the team at Bute Advice Centre.
Thank you all - you didn’t let us down last year and we know you will do Bute proud this year too.
Angela Callaghan, Bute Oasis, Argyle Street, Rothesay
Demolition is an act of civic vandalism
As much the earliest of the correspondents to raise the issue of the West Church in your columns, I regret the turn things have taken recently.
It would seem that the withdrawal of the council proposal to demolish the building last year was pointless.
It might have been better if attention had been focussed on saving the steeple, since saving the whole building was really always a non-starter.
I would still like to think that we might have another public meeting to discuss ways and means of retaining the steeple. It is far from unusual for a tower or steeple to be retained when the rest of a building is demolished; one need look no further than the Old Church tower on the front at Helensburgh, or the former Park and Townhead churches in Glasgow - the steeple of the latter saving at the eleventh hour.
It can be done. One always hears the cry of ‘Where’s the money to come from?’ - but need it cost that much? We are not being told the cost of the proposed demolition!
It has not been proved that there is any real danger in the building. The cry of ‘danger’ is just a ploy by those in the council and others who regard the structure as a mere nuisance.
Yet the steeple has been much admired and photographed by visitors to the town. It is a natural focus, and the space could easily be adapted into a shop or exhibition area.
The partial demolition we have seen was clearly always just intended as a stalking horse for complete destruction, which was always the intention.
It is sad to see long-serving councillors ‘worming’ their careers with such a piece of civic vandalism. The attitude now is just one ofstonewalling - an ironic term in this case!
A lot of money is being spent on the Royal Hotel - is it worth it in comparison? It seems, certainly, laughable to have a ‘Townscape Heritage Initiative’ while at the same time proposing to destroy the most salient feature of the town’s skyline - particularly prominent from the north and west aspects.
Graeme Allan, 3 The Terrace, Ardbeg
Community spirit alive and well on Bute
Through your columns I would like to offer my sincere and heartfelt thanks to everyone who has taken time to express their support over the past week – whether in person, by telephone, through letters and by email.
The fact that they have taken the time to get in touch to show encouragement and kindness is very much appreciated and my grateful thanks go to you all.
Their actions simply reinforce my long-held belief that, when it comes to community spirit and generosity, the people of Bute are second to none. Thank you all.
Cllr Len Scoullar (Independent, Isle of Bute), 45 Craigmore Road, Rothesay
Bute’s generous support for poppy appeal
On behalf of the Rothesay branch of the Royal British Legion Scotland, may I thank the residents of Bute for their support for the 2015 poppy appeal. The kindness of local shops, hotels, schools and other local businesses and organisations in placing collecting tins on their premises, and the unquestionable generosity of the people of this great island, raised the grand total of £3,661.71. The money will be used to help and support former personnel and their families. Once again, many thanks.
John Maltman (Poppy appeal co-ordinator 2015), RBLS Rothesay branch, 7 Deanhood Place, Rothesay
Kidney support group’s bag pack thanks
Bute Kidney Patients Support Group held a bag pack in the Co-operative supermarket in Rothesay on Saturday, November 28. We would like to thank the Co-op for supporting our efforts, during which we raised the magnificent sum of £750.
A big thank you to all our fantastic helpers on the day and, last but not least, a great big thank you to every customer who put money into our cans and offered support.
It was great to know that customers were supporting us, not just in monetary terms but in expressing their desire to have a dialysis unit on the island.
On behalf of current and future renal patients on Bute - thank you.
W. Allan McFarlane (secretary, Bute Kidney Patients Support Group), 27 Marine Place, Rothesay