Your letters to The Buteman: July 17, 2015

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Ferry tendering, energy generation and Bute Vintage Club’s road run are just some of the topics covered in the letters columns of our latest issue.

To have your thoughts on any subject of Bute interest published in our next print edition, email 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.

Ensign petition closes for comment

I’m writing to thank The Buteman for all the publicity and support you gave to my Scottish Red Ensign Petition to the Scottish Parliament.

As you said in last week’s edition the petition closed for signature on July 8, but by that date 531 people had signed it - and although the majority were in Scotland and the UK, there were signatures from Europe and as far afield as Australia and the United States.

Of the 70 comments made by those who signed, 58 supported the proposal with only 1 against. Nine were on the theme of independence and the remaining two were on a related topic but not the flag.

I have been told that the Petitions Committee will probably hear my petition on September 7 at their meeting in Inveraray.

Please pass my thanks on to all your readers who supported my petition.

George McKenzie, Rubha nan Gall, 48 Ardbeg Road, Rothesay

‘Cheapskate comments’ on government

As a visitor to Rothesay this month I was interested to read your article on the threatened ferry strike.

However, the cheapskate comments by David Kilpatrick of The Bike Shed put me off hiring a conveyance from his establishment to explore your beautiful island!

He had a pathetic, sarcastic pop at ‘our wonderful Scottish Government for ignoring the islands’ but will he now apologise in the aftermath of the First Minister’s personal intervention to avert a strike?

There is a simple answer to David Kilpatrick’s rhetorical question: ‘Who is entitled to job security in this day and

age?’ It is: anyone who wants the certainty of being able to plan his/her future with confidence. It is the hallmark of how a compassionate, civilised society treats its citizens.

David Kilpatrick and his like from the George Osborne school of philosophy would drag us back to pre-Victorian times, with few rights for most citizens.

Thankfully I’m sure his anti -Scottish Government, ultra right-wing views are not shared by all Brandanes otherwise I would be reluctant to come back for a future holiday!

Alastair Witts, 39 Kindar Drive, New Abbey, by Dumfries

Success of vintage club’s road run

We’d like to send thanks to all who helped with this year’s road run: the members of the Bute Vintage Club, the coast guard, the police, the traffic stewards, all at Mount Stuart, the ladies awaiting our return at the sailing club with refreshments, the band, the landowners and farmers whose property we travelled over, Cal Mac Ferries, all the B&B owners and the many other unseen helpers who make a large event like this a success.

We travelled up from Cumbria to attended our second Bute run and it is now a fixed date in our diary.

The friendship offered to all comers, drivers, passengers or spectators makes everyone feel welcome and an almost carnival atmosphere develops on the promenade as expectant drivers and spectators await the off whilst listening to the live music of the band.

Thanks should also go the our fellow enthusiastic owners who spend many hours preparing, maintaining and caring for their old machines.

Many of these would simply not be running were it not for the opportunity to attend such fun gatherings as the Bute run.

It’s marvellous that the popularity of these vintage events is giving a new lease of life to vintage tractors, providing such a spectacle and raising charitable funds in the process.

My final thanks would be to all the motorists who remained polite and patient when unexpectedly finding themselves amidst a 108-vehicle, 15mph rolling traffic jam!

We are already looking forward to seeing old friends and new friends we have yet to meet in 2016.

Ian and Jan Hunt, Lowfield House, Catlowdy, Cumbria

Counting comments on wind project

Last week your correspondent Mrs T. Nelson gave numbers for residents and non-residents lodging comments for and against the Auchintirrie wind turbines planning application with Argyll and Bute Council.

Her numbers differed from those given in my letter published on July 3, and she asked ‘what happened to the 34 folk that Mick did not count?’.

The answer is that I only counted those comments that either gave an address or identified themselves as Bute residents or visitors.

I ignored comments appearing on the website where there was no address given, or the address given had been redacted, and where the author did not state which they were.

Mick Common, Park Cottage, Upper Quay St, Port Bannatyne

Scottish warmth at its best

On Sunday, July 5, after spending a pleasant overnight stay at Chandler’s hotel, my wife and I were walking from Ascog Bay into Rothesay for the morning ferry. It was a warm morning and we were carrying an overnight case.

A couple who were leaving their home just across the road stopped their car and offered us a lift into the ferry terminal. I would like them to know how much we appreciated it.

My wife had a recent hip operation and this represented a long walk for her. It may seem like a small thing but “the kindness of strangers” is never a small thing.

I didn’t get the couple’s name but if you read this you know who you are. Thank you.

You made our day and our trip and did Bute proud. Scottish warmth at its best,

Andy and Kathleen Callaghan, 4 The Furlongs, Hamilton

Micro-hydro generation

I refer to Paul McKay’s letter in last week’s Buteman and wholly support his proposal that Bute Community Power seriously consider the potential for micro-hydro generation on the Mill Lade.

Historically the Kirk Dam and the Mill Lade powered the several mills that existed in Rothesay. The Mill Lade infrastructure is largely intact.

The Kirk Dam remains but is apparently now operated for flood management - restoration for multi-function use for hydro-generation might however be prohibitively expensive.

Nevertheless the Loch Fad catchment, without any alteration to the Kirk Dam, might still provide a useful amount of micro-hydro power if a small turbine or waterwheel was reinstated at the present Bute Fabrics site where one of the original mills existed.

Even though the power generated might be relatively modest, the big advantage of micro-hydro would be continuity of supply, such that when aggregated over the year the total generated could be appreciable.

Power generated could perhaps be used by Bute Fabrics to run part of their operation with the added promotional benefit of marketing a product manufactured using sustainable power.

The story of historic power generation in Rothesay and its restoration as a sustainable source to mitigate climate change could have considerable potential to boost tourism.

The story of how Thom’s Cuts were built to increase this generation potential could also be promoted, possibly with walks and tours.

I have already put some of these ideas to BCP and together with Paul McKay I would encourage them to pursue the micro-hydro concept (on the Mill Lade and possibly elsewhere) as well as other sources of sustainable power generation for Bute less visually obtrusive than wind turbines.

Ronnie Falconer MSc CEng FICE FCIWEM (retired chartered civil fngineer and specialist in flood resilience and climate adaptation), Hawkstone Lodge, Ascog

Big is not always beautiful

I read Scottish transport and islands minister Derek Mackay’s ‘We’re not privatising ferries’ statement (The Buteman, July 3), with great care.

I recently travelled to and from Shetland via Serco North Link. The vessels, MV Hjaltland and MV Hrossey, are large, beautifully fitted and immaculately clean.

I enjoyed the superb service and the entire experience very much, though it was certainly not inexpensive.

I awoke at 4am and proceeded to the deck areas, hoping to see Fair Isle in the dawn. I couldn’t help but notice that all the gambling machines were lit up and that the large television screen invited viewers to participate in a gambling game.

“What a waste of energy,” I thought, followed by the realisation that gambling results in many more losses than gains for the punter.

The catering staff were busily setting tables for breakfast. I took the opportunity to ask one young man how he found Serco as an employer. “No bother”, he said. “Just the same, really. Yes, it’s fine.”

An older crew member, Aberdonian by his accent, came over and said: “I’ll tell you what it’s like working for Serco. They’d kick you when you’re down. They don’t give a **** for anything but profit.”

He continued “They’re a global company with their roots in South Africa. Big, very big, in Australia where they run the prisons.”

Serco is big. Big is not always beautiful.

Police Scotland is big. Big is not always the most efficient. Big often forgets the human aspects of a situation.

To the Scottish Government, please note this before you make the final decisionon who to award our ferries contract to.

I fear, however, that the decision has already been taken. Profit before people seems to be the name of the game in today’s sad, sad world - a policy that will come back to kick us all - well, certainly the non-wealthy among us, hard in the teeth.

On a separate subject, may I apologise to Councillor Isobel Strong regarding my letter of June 25?

I stated that Isobel had not replied to my email regarding the condition of the public toilet, the pavements and other basic services for which the council has responsibility.

Checking my sent emails, on return from holiday, I noticed that I had put “yk” instead of “uk” in Isobel’s address.

As there were two other recipients with the correct address, the email was presumably sent to them.

I have emailed an apology to Isobel but feel that, as my criticism was public, my apology should be public too.

Eleanor Black, 4 St Andrews Walk, Rothesay