Your letters to The Buteman: October 23, 2015

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The latest crop of Letters to the Editor from readers of The Buteman includes views on Argyll and Bute Council’s proposed cuts programme, Caledonian MacBrayne’s Rothesay-Gourock ferry service and the closing weekend festival at Rothesay Pavilion.

As ever, If you’d like to comment on any of the topics raised, or any subject of interest to Bute, drop an email to 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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Blame for cuts lies with the coalition

Alan Reid chose last week in his letter to place the blame on the Scottish Government for the council cuts. I find this very strange indeed considering it was his Liberal Democrat coalition with the Tories that brought about the austerity measures that are the true cause.

This is a poor attempt at passing the buck.

Mr Reid fails to mention that in February of this year, he voted to set the main central government grant to local government for 2015-16 at a level 25 per cent lower than it was set for 2014-15.

This is just one of many examples of the horrific Tory austerity measures backed by Mr Reid (remember he voted in the bedroom tax as part of the coalition government’s welfare reforms).

At the heart of the problem in Argyll and Bute is the mismanagement of this council administration.

Perhaps if they had engaged with COSLA, then the current situation would not have been so drastic.

Michael Russell MSP is perfectly entitled to stand up for the electorate when they face such shocking cuts to their services; he would be neglecting his duty if he didn’t. Perhaps if Mr Reid had put his electorate first and foremost instead of propping up a Tory agenda of austerity, we would not be facing these problems now.

If Mr Reid is indeed against these cuts, then perhaps he should join the many campaign groups that have been set up to oppose them.

I have saved a space on a petition ready for him to sign. I won’t hold my breath!

Hugh Moodie, 12 Bryce Avenue, Rothesay

Obvious why Argyll and Bute is a special case

SNP Councillor James Robb (last week’s Buteman) shouldn’t be embarrassed about Argyll and Bute Council asking the SNP Government not to cut our funding. It’s obvious why Argyll and Bute should be treated as a special case.

We have a widespread rural area and 25 inhabited islands. This geography clearly adds to the cost of delivering services.

The SNP should be backing the council’s bid for more money, not criticising them for trying.

Alan Reid, 136 Fairhaven, Dunoon

Service at Gourock is a disgrace

It was interesting to see a smiling Caledonian MacBrayne managing director celebrating his company’s ‘best ferry company’ award (The Buteman, October 16).

Who is kidding who here? Let us hope he is not pictured here standing on the new, awful, almost vertical and huge gangway which greets foot passengers embarking and disembarking on Bute ferries at Gourock pier, where a disaster is surely waiting to happen as every rule in the health and safety book is broken.

Last week I returned to Bute from the south of France. My travel was by bus, plane, taxi and finally by train to Gourock. Everything went like clockwork - that is until reaching Gourock pier and CalMac took over!

The train from Glasgow arrived at 5.06pm, whereupon passengers pulling shopping and trolleys raced down the pier to find the ferry casting off at 5.10pm, i.e. five minutes early.

Waiting for the next ferry, I observed five men and a winch take 15 minutes to hoist this huge vertical gangway on to the ferry, and then take a further 15 minutes for foot passengers to disembark, thereby missing the train at Gourock station.

The service currently being provided is a disgrace, and I urge the people of Bute to write to the smiling Mr Dorchester expressing their disgust. It is wrong for crew and pier workers to take the flak for this man’s folly.

One final observation. On my arrival at Gourock, the large wide screen said ‘the Bute ferries are on amber alert due to fog’.

One hour previously the pilot of my Boeing 737 landed at Glasgow Airport in dense fog.

Perhaps the pilot could pass on some navigational tips to the masters of MV Argyle and MV Bute.

As a veteran of over 70 years sailing on ships on the Clyde and Western Isles I have fond memories of that Tighnabruaich legend, Captain Fergie Murdoch who could take his ships through the eye of a needle.

It looks like we are in for a long hard winter. Twenty four weeks to repair Wemyss Bay? Aye, that will be right!

Kenneth P. Colville, Lorne Lodge, 54 Mountstuart Road, Rothesay

Reply to closing weekend concerns

(An open letter to Buteman reader Billy Sprowl)

Dear Mr Sprowl,

I am writing in response to your letter in the October 2 issue regarding the Saturday night concert held during the Pavilion’s Closing Weekend Festival.

First, I hope you will accept my apology for the delay in responding to your letter. I was away on holiday so unable to get back to you sooner.

We are sad that you and your partner did not enjoy the bands as part of the Closing Weekend; however, a very large number of people did enjoy them and were up dancing and enjoying the music rather than sitting, talking and passing what we can only describe as hurtful comments to their friends.

The responsibility for the sound is not the band leader’s, but the sound engineer’s. The engineer during the whole weekend had to be brought in from outside because the Pavilion, as operated by Argyll and Bute Council, did not have a qualified and experienced sound engineer as part of their staff.

The main hall or ballroom was originally built for unamplified big bands so the acoustics are very difficult and any problem inherent in the space is amplified when you use amplified sound.

I am afraid due to the pressures of time during the festival we did not get it quite right that night. We did try to remedy the problem during their set but it was not possible.

Fortunately Orkestra Del Sol brought their own engineer so the problem was relatively short-lived.

When the building reopens we will ensure that we have an experienced engineer, who will get to know the venue and its unique characteristics and we will do our best to ensure that the sound is better than it was for Woodenbox.

When programming the weekend we structured the weekend in two parts: Friday was really focussed on the fond memories and nostalgia, whereas Saturday and Sunday was about giving a taster of the kind of things that will happen in the future.

The show in question was never advertised as a ‘dance’. The marketing material, website and all of the publicity, including interviews with the bands in The Buteman, made it very clear what kind of event it would be.

Our website had links to videos and music from both bands and we also played their music on Bute Island Radio.

All of this made it clear that it was not a traditional ‘dance band’ and if you had turned up hoping to do a slow foxtrot I can see how you would have been disappointed.

We feel that we did do what we could to communicate clearly what the event would be like. If there is more that we can do then please let us know.

That said, Orkestra Del Sol did have two hundred people up dancing a polka and these people all looked as if they were having a very good time.

I for one have never seen that many people dancing there to anything apart from a ceilidh.

This suggests that the band were very much in touch with the audience, and one that was very diverse in terms of age, gender, hairstyles and dress.

Both bands played the show at a reduced rate because the event was a fundraiser to contribute to the shortfall still to be secured to properly refurbish and repair the building.

In addition Orkestra Del Sol kindly agreed to DJ after they had played so that people could stay late and dance at no extra cost.

We certainly don’t expect everyone to come along to and to enjoy everything that will happen in the Pavilion when it reopens.

However it will have regular events (which will include more traditional ‘dances’) and what we are aiming for and hoping is that everyone who lives on our island (as well as many from outside) will come along, attend, enjoy and be inspired by two or three or more events during a year.

Not every event will be for everyone and I hope that we will make it clear what kind of event it is that we are presenting.

Equally we would hope that people might be adventurous enough to try new things to see and do and in the process discover their new favourite band or best new activity or class.

When we are back in the redeveloped building events and classes will be happening much more regularly and will certainly include dance.

We do hope that we’ll see yourself and your dancing partner and friends back, along with every member of our community both young and old enjoying themselves in the building again.

Stuart Thomas (development manager, Rothesay Pavilion Charity), Eaglesham House, Mountpleasant Road, Rothesay

Big thanks to everyone who helped

On Friday, October 16, I was crossing the car park outside the little Co-op in East Princes Street when I fell over.

People came over and helped, and someone fetched a chair and offered me a cup of tea, but I was shocked and a bit dazed and I don’t know if I thanked everybody at the time.

So thank you to everybody who helped me.

Sandra Lister, 1a Adelaide Place, Rothesay