Your letters to The Buteman: September 11, 2015

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Our latest batch of readers’ letters, as published in the September 11 issue of The Buteman, includes thoughts on growing Bute’s population and economy and thank you messages from, among others, the daughter of the Rothesay man whose wheelchair was stolen (and then recovered), the island’s radio station and the organisers of the Rothesay flower show.

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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Thoughts from afar on the future of Bute

I read the article in The Buteman regarding the question of how to shape Bute’s future.

I have written before and also had talks with the council and the management of the Bute Estate back in 2014.

The main issue is the lack of local economy initiatives. Nowadays raw materials like milk and timber are directly taken to the mainland for further production, thus cutting off local possibilities.

Globalisation demands large scale operations to be competitive on a price level, but it is my opinion that high quality goods from small scale enterprises should be able to find their way to the market too.

It would be great to establish an “ appellation controlee” for fine quality foods and farmhouse cheeses, making Bute a marker for a high quality brand.

But any initiative will not survive without the support of the government, as many startups will suffer during their first period in which investments have to be made and the revenues will have a possible slow start. But still ten times better than investments in further increasing unemployment.

Focus areas could be:

Tourism: expand marketing to the continent. Bute is within easy reach via Glasgow Airport and can be branded as the gateway to the Highlands. It is very child-friendly in a beautiful natural environment.

The need for high quality accommodation will grow. Active family holidays are becoming more and more popular, walking, trekking, off road cycling, kayaking, sailing, fishing.

Already the Bute Estate is expanding its letting capacity, but there should be room for further expansion by private projects.

Farmhouse food: small scale cheese-making facilities (very successful in Switzerland) could give a better use of the locally-produced milk. In Holland cheesemaking is not only for the cheese, but the residuals, which are used in the pharmaceutical industry.

Other products could all benefit from one unified brand marker. Bute beef is doing well, but could become bigger with better marketing. A shame the initiative of the Sleeping Warrior sausage has ended.

Timber: what a shame to export the rough timber to the mainland when it could be used for half products or finished products. Set up a line of Bute’s own arts and crafts furniture line in co-operation with Bute Fabrics.

And have a look at R-house from the Isle of Skye. They even had a breakthrough within the UK and also begin to be known on the continent.

IT: more and more call centers are being installed in more remote areas; one already has a base on Bute. Perhaps some more room to expand in both inbound and outbound call services.

Elderly care: Bute could also develop into a safe haven for elderly people enjoying the tranquility and healthy atmosphere on the island thus creating more jobs in the care sector.

And a lot more could be thought of, as long as it brings economic activities back to the island. Trying to keep up with large scale operations are deemed to fail.

An emphasis on small business developments, using carefully planned marketing and branding could make a change in the ever decreasing population of Bute.

It just came to my attention that one of the dairy farms on the island has shut down as there is no future in milk production.

What would have happened if a premium quality cheese making facility had been in place I wonder?

Hendrik Wester, Heerenveen, Holland

A solution to depopulation problem?

Following the very worthy ‘Whither Bute’ event on September 2 and subsequent - if unrelated - comments from the First Minister, it occurs that Bute has a declining (and ageing) population, many empty residential properties and an underutilised commercial estate.

This surely represents an opportunity for the island to position itself as a centre for welcoming and integrating new arrivals in Scotland?

At a stroke the depopulation ‘crisis’ could be reversed; attracting the best and the brightest of Syrian and other incomers could be relied upon to regenerate the local economy and the positive impact on the cultural and social life of the island could not be overestimated.

If radical solutions are to be contemplated, this, surely, is one to be considered?

Graeme Kerr, 21 Argyle Street, Rothesay

Stolen wheelchair recovered

Three weeks ago I wrote a letter to The Buteman about the theft of my father’s wheelchair.

Well it has been found thanks to a kind person who called the police when he saw a couple throwing a wheelchair over a wall in Barone Road.

The novelty of stealing from a pensioner must have worn off.

I would like to thank the police and The Buteman for their help, and to everyone who was concerned about it.

Thank you from myself and my dad.

Edith MacDonald, 11 Bridge Street, Rothesay

Thanks from island radio volunteers

The volunteers at Bute Island Radio would like to express our humble thanks to Jeff Worrall for his most kind and generous comments as expressed in your August 14 issue.

The support we have received from Jeff, the station’s sponsor George Hanson Building Contractors, our valued advertisers, and individual show sponsors, along with other individuals who have donated, or given of their time and expertise in helping us,has been invaluable, and they too are more than worthy of our gratitude.

It would be hard not to agree with Jeff that the provision of a community radio station on the island has indeed had its ups and downs, and yes, it has been fairly difficult to get to where we currently are.

However, it’s also fair to say we are well aware of our present position and what is needed to progress.

We hope very soon to be in a position to announce the inaugural AGM of Bute Island Radio, (the body that has arisen from the merger between the old Bute FM and internet station Radio Bute) at which the current interim committee running the station will be required to step down, seeking, should they wish, re-election.

This will of course be open not only to Bute Island Radio volunteers, but also to the public, and will run in conjunction with new elections to the board of the broadcast license holding company Bute Community Media. It is after all, a ‘community’ project.

We would hope for, and like, to see others who possess relevant skills coming forward to help with what we believe is a beneficial and worthwhile, as well as entertaining, community asset. Especially inthe areas of fundraising, day-to-day management, and in the technical department.

The station is open to all, and is accessible throughout the day while live broadcasting is taking place. We would like to see more input and participation from the many other local voluntary, charitable, and sporting groups on the island. It’s your station too!

As alluded to by Jeff in the quotation in his final paragraph, we don’t expect you to agree with, or to like, the content of every show which we broadcast. That is down to personal preference. However, if we can at least provide a varied programme of entertainment, combined with relevant information, and at the same time provide a platform for others, whilst also promoting our beautiful island, then we’re sure that we can see our way to a fruitful future.

The interim committee of Bute Island Radio, First Floor, 7 Castle Street, Rothesay

Show thanks

On behalf of the committee of the Rothesay Horticultural Society I would like to give our thanks to all those who took part in the Society’s events recently.

I am sure that everyone who was at the Beechgrove question time would agree that it was a very enjoyable evening and the plant display on the stage was superb.

We would like to thank both Jimmy Lilley and Dave Fraser at Ardencraig Gardens for growing and providing the plants and Angela at Bute Oasis for giving up her free time on the Wednesday to move the plants from Ardencraig to the Pavilion.

Over the weekend we held what will be our last annual Flower Show in the Pavilion (moving to Trinity Church next year) and given the poor growing weather we have had over the last year our members pulled out all the stops to give the old girl a good send-off.

Eighty-three exhibitors, of which 32 won trophies, put 837 exhibits (photographs of which will be up on the society’s website in the next few weeks).

We thank everyone from our helpers, stewards, door people, Marlene Hill who undertook the auction, and especially James McMillan and the Pavilion staff, who helped to make this year’s show the success it was.

Finally, I would like to give my personal thanks to my fellow committee members for putting up with me over the show period. They are a great bunch of folk who give their all year after year and it is a pleasure to work alongside them.

We look forward to doing it all again and welcoming you all to the annual flower show at Trinity Church in 2016.

Mark McCormack (secretary of Rothesay Horticultural Society), 24 Russell Street, Rothesay

Flower club thanks

On behalf of the Bute Flower Club, I would like to say a big thank you to all the staff of the Pavilion for their help and assistance over the years that we having been using the venue for our club. They have been extremely generous with their time and willing to accommodate our numerous requests whether at our monthly meetings or our larger annual open demonstrations.

We would like to wish them well in their future employment and once again extend our warm felt thanks for all their help.

Ella Crawford, 55 Mountstuart Rd, Rothesay

Macmillan fund-raising efforts

Unfortunately due to a lack of heather on the island this year, we were unable to sell sprigs for Macmillan Cancer Support at the recent Bute Highland Games.

This is usually a very successful fund-raising event for the charity. However, we have planned a few more fund-raising events for the rest of the year.

On September 25 we will be holding our annual coffee morning in the 292 Club hall, and a fashion show by Glen’s is scheduled for October 30, in addition to bag packing in the Co-op on Hogmanay.

We look forward to the continued support of everyone for our charity.

Elena Anderson (secretary, Bute branch of Macmillan Cancer Support), 19 Craigmore Road, Rothesay