Letters, January 22 2021


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Could supplying local shops solve fishermen’s problems?

Whilst I have every sympathy with Scottish fishermen and the problems with the EU since Brexit, perhaps it is time they looked at the possibility of selling to the home market. I see Loch Fyne langoustines are sent to the EU but, living fairly close to Loch Fyne, I don’t seem to be able to purchase the product locally.

I am sure UK supermarkets would be only too happy to sell, crabs, lobsters and langoustines provided by Scottish fishermen but it seems they would prefer to supply the EU rather than the home market.

Fishing boats enter Campbeltown Loch regularly but there is no local supply of their catch as this is transported ‘up the road’ as soon as it is landed.

I just suggest that supplying the UK market is maybe a way out of the continual problems with our ‘friendly’ neighbours who seem hell bent on putting continual obstacles in the way of sensible trading partnerships.

Keith Abendroth, Campbeltown.

Rest and Be Thankful: the never-ending saga

I grew up in Peninver and have been hiking on the hills around the Rest and Be Thankful many times, all year round. My initial thought a few years ago was that the best solution to the problem of landslides on the Rest was building avalanche tunnels like there are on the A890 at Lochcarron but there is practically zero ground to build on on the downhill side of the A83.

The big catch-pits along the uphill side of the road do seem to work but, in the long-term, removing the unstable soil and planting lots of trees and shrubs on the rest of the hillside to hold it in place, might be the best solution.

Rather than replace the road through the Rest and Be Thankful with a new route through another glen or to continue trying to stop an unstable hillside from obeying the laws of gravity, how much would it cost to remove all the soil in these watercourses which regularly slide?

Maybe cost-wise removing the unstable soil from the Rest would be cheaper – and quicker? – than building a whole new road?

If there is a landslide in a watercourse, it weakens the soil directly above it so that will slide next, followed by the soil above it, etc. The bedrock at the Rest is only a couple of feet below the surface so removing the soil in gullies liable to slide after rain might be a lot cheaper than building a new road through another glen.

For a permanent solution, perhaps close off the road from Ardgartan to the Lochgoilhead junction for six months in the winter, pipe water from Loch Restil to the top of the gullies prone to sliding – at the base of the first exposed bedrock high up the gullies – let the water run for three or four months, and hydraulically remove all the loose soil, then in the spring shovel all the accumulated debris of the other side of the road?

It would mean short-term inconvenience for a lot of people but it might save a lot of money, time, and perhaps lives, in the long-term.

Harry Hood, New Hampshire, USA. 

Need for adequate mental health support

As children and young people return to being home-schooled due to the new lockdown, there is no doubt that this will have a continued detrimental impact on mental health and wellbeing.

As a coalition, we applaud the Scottish Government’s greater investment in mental health services. However, a view we share with other organisations, is that this investment is simply not sufficient.

Mental health services were already under immense strain prior to Covid-19, with children waiting considerable lengths of time for support. Recent statistics from December, for example, point to the fact that more than 1,000 children have been waiting over a year for treatment.

This pandemic will only serve to make matters even worse as services deal with a backlog of those already suffering from mental health problems, added to which will be those who have developed problems over the course of lockdown.

What is needed is a national crusade, delivering significant investment in the public, private and third sectors to deliver adequate mental health support, both during and as we recover from Covid-19. We must also use this as an opportunity to radically transform our mental health services, both for now and for the future, refocusing on prevention and early intervention.

In the meantime, we would urge those children and their families who feel they need help not to hold back and look to get the support they need.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition: Kenny Graham, Falkland House School; Lynn Bell, LOVE Learning; Stephen McGhee, Spark of Genius; Niall Kelly, Young Foundations.

Could you help those who suffer from ME?

The serious neurological condition Myalgic Encephalomylitis (ME) will sadly be all too familiar to some of your readers; at least 20,000 children and adults in Scotland live with ME, also diagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS).

Many face barriers in accessing health and social care services that meet their needs, and some professionals still don’t understand the impact of ME and its symptoms.

UK charity Action for ME is trying to change this by offering people with ME across Scotland one-to-one advocacy, via phone and email, to help them be heard, understand their rights and access support.

We want to expand this much-needed service, and are seeking enthusiastic volunteers in Scotland who can make the most of our online advocate training programme to develop their skills, gain valuable experience, and help improve the lives of vulnerable people with ME, all from home.

Anyone who is interested in finding out more can call (0117 927 9551), email (advocacy@actionforme.org.uk) or visit our website (www.actionforme.org.uk/advocacy) – we would love to hear from good listeners who can spare two hours a week.

Alice Cranston, advocacy coordinator, Action for ME.