This week’s crop of Buteman readers’ letters includes more thoughts on Rothesay’s former West Church, Argyll and Bute Council’s proposed service cuts, local history and more.
If you’d like to comment 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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Church does not belong to the council
I have lived next door to the West Church since January 6, 1977. Whilst its closure is always given as 1978 (not 1979 as quoted by Graeme Allan) the final service actually took place in late 1977.
In individual conversations with members of the congregation at that time they each told me that the church was having to close due to a major problem with the roof. The cost of repairing this had been quoted then at £50,000, money which the church did not have.
With a further 38 years of deterioration leading to a very obvious sag to the roof-line at the rear of the building, it is disingenuous of some of the preservationists to claim the church either had no structural problems, or only minor ones.
In recent letters to The Buteman, some of those in favour of retaining the West Church appear to suggest that the council are responsible for the deterioration of the structure. The church does not belong to the council and never has done. The fact that the council are being forced to act in the interests of public safety keeps being twisted by your correspondents with hints of ‘dirty work’.
In light of Argyll and Bute Council’s financial problems, the idea that they are demolishing a building which they do not own and have no financial interest in for no reason is ridiculous.
Finally, Catherine McLean has commented that demolition of the church is not of benefit to the public.
I can assure her that, as a direct neighbour of this rotting hulk, and as a member of the public, it is very much to my benefit and the benefit of all my neighbours to see its total removal.
Brian Large, 26 Argyle Street, Rothesay
Council cuts are unacceptable
The £18 million of council cuts are totally unacceptable and will cause great distress to many.
These outrageous cuts have been imposed by the SNP government. They decide the amount the council has to spend each year and the SNP have cut this amount drastically for no good reason.
The SNP are sitting on a budget underspend of £350 million. It’s a disgrace that they are imposing these appalling cuts in council services in Argyll and Bute instead of using some of this money to keep the council’s spending stable.
Another disgrace is that our SNP MSP Michael Russell has chosen to criticise the council for making the cuts that his government ordered them to make. Mr Russell’s job is to represent Argyll and Bute in Holyrood, not act as Leader of the Opposition on the council. He should do the job he is paid to do and stand up in the Scottish Parliament and demand that the SNP government reverse these appalling cuts.
Alan Reid, 136 Fairhaven, Dunoon
Nursery’s truck pull raises £600+
Through your letters page, can we thank everyone who took part in our Apple Tree Truck Pull’ and those who sponsored our brave men and women who pulled the truck?
In particular our thanks must go to Elaine and John Mackirdy for the loan of the truck and to Jack for steering it.
Also Aidan Canavan who donated Bute beer to everyone and of course to all those who pulled the truck and made it look so easy!
So far over £600 has been raised with more money still to be received.
A huge thank you to everyone involved.
The children of Apple Tree Nursery, Mackinlay Street, Rothesay
Funds raised for Macmillan Cancer Support
Following a ‘soup and sandwich’ event at 43 Ardbeg Road on Saturday, September 26, which 20 family, friends and neighbours so generously and graciously attended, the princely sum of £300 was raised, specifically for donation to Macmillan Cancer Support.
My sincere thanks to everyone for their kind support, and I look forward to welcoming you all again next time.
Una Dingwall, 43 Ardbeg Road, Rothesay
Monastery on Mull
On October 6 I was one of the audience at North Bute Literary Society’s event addressed by Father Seraphim.
It was a surprise to me that an Orthodox Monastery is in the making on the island of Mull and I am sure that most people in Argyll and Bute know nothing of it. It really was interesting to hear Father Seraphim talk about the early history of monasteries in Scotland and of his struggles to make Kilninian a centre for pilgrimage. It often seems that outsiders are more interested in our history and traditions than we are.
I commend to all readers the website that has been created and ask those interested to look at www.mullmonastery.org.
Those who wish to donate to the Monastery can use the website.
Hamish Kirk, 21 Mill Street, Rothesay
Commitment to work with communities
High-speed fibre broadband has emerged as one of the hottest topics of recent years for communities across Argyll and Bute.
Increasingly, it is a ‘must have’ technology.
Local households and businesses are using it for everything from selling products to filling in government forms, helping with education, adding to entertainment or simply staying in touch.
A great deal has already been achieved in Scotland thanks to the £410m Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband partnership between the Scottish and UK governments, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, local authorities, BT and others.
More than 17,600 premises in Argyll and Bute can now access fibre broadband as a result of the partnership and BT’s own commercial rollout of this exciting technology.
And the number of homes and businesses able to get fibre is growing rapidly. By the end of March 2018, Scottish coverage is expected to have reached around 95 per cent.
But what about the people not yet included in any existing rollout plan and who don’t get included in the next stage of public funding?
Part of BT’s mission is to listen to those worried they’re not in any upgrade programme - and do what we can to help.
We’ve just announced our commitment to work with communities to find a fibre solution and have set up a community fibre partnership scheme to enable this. Our strong ambition is to never to say ‘no’ and rather to work together until we have agreed a suitable and affordable option.
Indeed, we’ve already worked with 90 UK communities where local people have got together and pooled their funds with our contribution.
If any Argyll and Bute community contacts us at www.openreach.co.uk/communityfibre we’ll do whatever we can to help, including co-funding options.
This initiative will complement the main fibre deployment and the Community Broadband Scotland programme already operating across Scotland, with everyone pulling together to deliver a truly Digital Scotland.
Householders and businesses can check the latest situation for their area by going to the Digital Scotland and Openreach superfast broadband websites.
UK fibre broadband coverage is currently at 90 per cent, on course for 95 per cent by the end of 2017. Independent studies already place the UK top of the European Union’s five largest countries for broadband.
Our job now is to make sure that the UK remains at the forefront of this exciting technological revolution by doing whatever’s possible to help the remaining five per cent of households and businesses still awaiting good news.
Gavin Patterson (chief executive, BT), 81 Newgate Street, London