The latest crop of readers’ letters in The Buteman includes more views on the decision to provide a home on Bute for 15 Syrian refugee families, along with thoughts on the Scottish Government’s ‘named person’ scheme, ferry fares, the West Church, Bute Community Power and more.
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 email@example.com 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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‘We are not so lucky’
I hope your readers acted to be heard at the consultation on the Children and Young Person (Scotland) Act 2014 – my letter of two weeks ago. Clause 4 of this Act has just got even more intrusive with the SNP government imposing a section, with the named person making 11 personal visits in the first three years to the child’s home to complete a checklist. How more controlling, undermining of parents authority and anti personal liberty can they get?
The SNP record in government is a catalogue of failures. Education their flagship policy has widened the gap of literacy and numeracy between children from well off backgrounds and those from financially challenged ones. What has happened to the smaller classes promised?
Health services are creaking because of the continuous strain of under staffing, resourcing, missed targets and poor forward planning. Cuts in training places have contributed to this crisis.
Public confidence is failing as is evidenced by the by-election result in Alex Salmond’s stamping ground where SNP were second preference for the voters. Police Scotland is unravelling and scandal ridden.
Our local government is in crisis as funding from Holyrood is tightened even when there is an under spend of £280 million that could have been distributed to councils to stop some of their inevitable cuts to services.
I for one hope that the Holyrood elections diminish the SNP’s absolute control and we can have proper consensual politics that benefit Scotland.
Ursula Craig, Rossarden, Shore Road, Cove
Generosity of spirit on Bute
Can we just say top marks to Craig Borland for coming out so strongly in support of the Syrian families who are due to arrive on the island soon. Such a refreshing contrast to the miserly, Little Englander mentatility which has characterised so much of the media coverage of the refugee crisis. Not to mention the utterly heartless response of the Tories to the biggest humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II.
We were lucky enough to have been at the meeting in Rothesay Library where the three Syrian guests spoke and would agree wholeheartedly with Craig that their stories were inspirational, as were the efforts made by the library staff to welcome the speakers.
No doubt there will be the odd gripe, but remember the benefits will not be all be one way.
Immigrant families from other parts of Scotland and the UK, Italy, Eastern Europe, India and the Far East have all made a huge contribution to island life over the years.
We are optimistic the kind of generosity of spirit shown in you editorial will be shared by most people on the island.
Mr Jack Robertson and Dr Mary Edmondson, Marine Road, Port Bannatyne
RET should be extended to freight
I was pleased to read, in their statement after meeting the council, our SNP MSPs acknowledge that depopulation is a problem.
Bute has lost far too many people in recent years.One important thing the SNP could do is keep their election promise to introduce RET fares for commercial vehicles. Prices on all our islands are far too high because all goods brought onto the islands are subject to CalMac’s extortionate freight charges.
The SNP have broken the promise they made to include freight in the RET fares scheme.
If I were your MSP I would be standing up in the Scottish Parliament and demanding that RET be extended to freight.
Alan Reid (Lib Dem PSPC for Argyll and Bute), 136 Fairhaven, Dunoon
‘Hell bent on demolition’
Argyll and Bute Council is demolishing the West Church spire. Now.
This is despite the formation of a community interest company (CIC) to take forward preservation proposals. This is despite 350 ‘Friends of the Spire’ signing a petition to save the spire. This is despite a letter from Nicola Sturgeon dated August 2015 to say the spire is stable. This is despite the council’s legally adopted Local Plan for Argyll and Bute which states that Bute and Cowal will be one a place where “Rothesay [is] capitalising on its outstanding built heritage”; and [where it is] “a place of outstanding natural and built heritage…and restored iconic buildings”.
Angus Gilmour, the head of planning and building regulation of Argyll and Bute Council, is quoted in The Buteman, November 6, as saying “We [the council] have worked with a local interest group for the past two years to try to find a way forward”. This is the first time we have heard Mr Gilmour’s name. The group has only been formed a year - and find it difficult to understand the way in which the council has been “working with us”.
The Buteman ran a story on September 29 stating the spire was unsafe; the (first and only) inspection of the spire took place on October 2. Councillors Macintyre and Strong told local residents (and The Buteman) that the spire was unsafe in the week prior to inspection.
These are facts. Yet there continues to be a hell-bent desire to demolish the structure.
The bigger question is why? It can still be saved if only there is sufficient will to do so (and the high winds in the last few week will not have blown the spire down – and sue me if I am wrong).
But if the council thinks this is the way in which “to work with the community” then they are misguided and mistaken.
Unlike council officers and councillors, we, the community of Bute are not paid for our time, and so a little more honesty, accountability and respect would not only be welcomed, but necessary.
Richard Whitcomb, 40 Mount Pleasant Road, Rothesay
Seeing only pound signs
I see from the article in The Buteman of November 6 that Bute Community Power has appealed to the Scottish government to override the decision of the local council.
BCP is seeing only the pound signs when it wants to exploit the land for its own greedy profit.
It does not care for the local population or the wildlife it will endanger by siting these monstrosities on the island where rare geese fly in, all it can see is a grab for wealth and power at the expense of everyone else.
Tourism will blighted, the landscape will be blighted, the natural environment will be blighted, the two turbines rise like two pound signs beckoning them on, greed and power, greed and power.
BCP cannot even accept the decision made by the democratically elected committee but wish to challenge them with ridiculous accusations which bear no validity.
Argyll and Bute’s planning committee have shown great foresight in rejecting this application and protecting the environment and telling the money men and women that their exploitation is not welcome here.
Also a majority vote against it by the local population clearly indicates the people’s views on this issue, their rights must be respected.
What BCP hoped to do was to turn the island into a desert of whirring machines.
The people and the council have spoken against it. Let BCP try and carve out its path of greed and gluttony for power in some other environs.
Catherine McLean, 24 Castle Street, Rothesay
Macmillan Cancer Support
On behalf of the Bute Fundraising Committee of Macmillan Cancer Support may I thank everyone who supported our fashion show on Friday, October 30.
The excellent sum of £614.56 was raised.
Special thanks must go to Kathleen and Marion of Glen’s for putting the show together, to the ladies who modelled the clothes so professionally, and to the 292 Club for allowing us to hold our event there.
Elena Anderson (secretary of the Bute branch of Macmillan Cancer Support), 20 Craigmore Road, Rothesay
‘Evidence does speak for itself’
A spin doctor from Serco announced to The Buteman three weeks ago, when boasting of their proud record following their takeover of the life-line Northlink ferry services at Orkney and Shetland, and when trying to cajole the people of Bute and other western islands into believing that Serco is a competent and reasonable company, with the interests of the islanders at heart: “The evidence speaks for itself.”
I would agree with him totally, providing the evidence is there for all to see, and had not been sneakily withheld by the man himself - a Mr Riley.
I have had business interests in Orkney, and many friends and acquaintances there, over a period of years, so I was shocked and outraged when I learned that Serco had imposed the compulsory presentation of photo identity cards before they would allow anyone, either visitors or islanders, to use this lifeline service.
Those who did not have a photo driving licence, or similar, were told to bring their passports for inspection, or they were barred from this lifeline service. Visitors to the islands were similarly turned away. No excuse would be taken.
Only public outrage and protest by the local population made the ferry controllers back down (November, 2012) and reverse their draconian ruling, that islanders without other acceptable photo identification must travel with their passports - and that is for travel from one British island to another - Scrabster to Stromness, about a one-and-a-half hour journey.
On no other Scottish internal ferry service was this rule applicable.
“If people just look at the evidence of what we do elsewhere,” Mr Riley said to The Buteman, “they should be reassured by that alone.”
Yes, the evidence of how we can expect to be treated by Serco, if they take over, and if we allow it, does speak for itself, and is most reassuring.
There is further evidence that could be made available, if required, including: ‘Shamed security firm Serco to hand back almost £70million following prisoner tagging scandal’ (The Mirror, December 19, 2013).
Serco and another company, G4S, allegedly charged the government for electronically monitoring people who were either dead or in jail.
‘The Serco-run Phosphate Hill detention centre has been condemned for its filthy conditions and the high level of self-harm among detainees’ (December 10, 2014).
Need I say more?
Bill Dawson, 14 Craigmore Road, Rothesay