Letters, February 26 2021


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Thanks for litter-picking campaign support

I would like to say an enormous thank you to Hannah O’Hanlon of the Courier for her great article supporting my new litter-picking venture which I have undertaken during furlough.

The response to my Facebook page WAKE UP, CLEAN UP ARGYLL! has been both inspiring and encouraging, with others joining in and litter-picking in their own areas all around Argyll. It really will make a difference to our environment and is something that can be done easily on our daily walks.

I would also like to say a big thank you to Jimmy Robertson, the bin man who contacted me and donated his litter-picker, bags and gloves. It is very much appreciated. I wish Jimmy a really happy retirement, and would like to thank him for all he has done over the years.

I went back to work at MAKI Pups, the new outdoor nursery based in Lochgilphead, last week but I intend to continue with my litter-picking at weekends when I can. I won’t stop now I’ve started.

If anyone wishes to help in any way, please phone me on 01880 740660.

Lori Silvan, Clachan.

Present full narrative, not unsubstantiated wish list

There was an interesting letter from Ron Wilson in the February 12 edition of the Courier which, as with any politician’s pronouncements, was laced with spin, hyperbole or half truths and consequently tells only half the story.

Regarding vaccines, nobody, except the SNP, talks about Westminster’s charity. It is my understanding that Great Britain and Northern Ireland are part of the UK and independently opted not to use the EU system and purchased vaccines for itself.

This elicited the usual howls of derision by SNP politicians along the lines of: ‘This idiotic refusal is all about Brexit and nothing to do with the pandemic and will cost lives,’ and others of a similar vein.

The inept EU vaccine-purchasing system has been and still is chaotic. France, at the time of writing, with a population of 67 million, has vaccinated 2.2 million. Pro rata, under the EU system, Scotland would probably have received 180,000 as opposed to the 1.8 million currently vaccinated.

The electorate keep hearing: ‘As an independent member of the EU’. This is possibly an SNP aspiration but I think there are several hurdles to an independent Scotland joining the EU.

What currency would be used, what proposals are there to meet the EU fiscal rules for membership in respect of the annual GDP deficit which is currently running at 8.6 per cent, well above the three per cent required?

The last figures available for government debt to GDP of 86 per cent is well above the 60 per cent required. Then there is the strong possibility of a Spanish veto or perhaps they are proposing throwing Clara Ponsatí to the wolves and saying: ‘We are sorry we backed the Catalans in order to curry favour with Madrid.’

Regarding the EU solidarity stimulus plan, I would hope that it was considerably greater than the UK; there are 27 member countries. I understand that it is €750 billion, spread over three years, and the grants and loans are subject to strict requirements. I notice that you do not mention £9.7 billion to date allocated through the Barnett formula which is separate from the money. I do not know how much, currently paid to Kate Forbes MSP, cabinet secretary for finance’s department in the furlough scheme.

Regarding the comments relating to Brexiteers and leaving the EU as ‘Johnson’s folly’, it has obviously escaped Mr Wilson’s notice that leaving the EU, liking the decision or not, was a democratic one by the UK electorate and, unlike the EU or the SNP, in our constitution we do not send the electorate back to vote again until such time that they ‘vote correctly’.

Banking crash? May I remind Mr Wilson that it was the Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of Scotland which were the main protagonists in the UK which had a serious impact on our economy. Mr Wilson’s rather emotive ‘gimcrack imperial fantasies’ could well have applied to the antics of the two Scottish banks’ boards of directors.

I am not particularly an avid supporter of politicians per se but the current SNP government by any yardstick is a really appalling administration with a record of declining education, health care and financial mismanagement, just to mention three areas.

Leaving aside the first two, what should cause concern is the eye-watering amounts of taxpayers’ money wasted. The new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh is at least £90 million over budget and still not fully operative; Ferguson Shipyard ferry project, currently £100 million and no ferries, projected final cost an additional £100 million and no firm delivery date; other assorted projects like the BiFab yards, £37 million, two of which have been bought by a UK company for £800,000; Prestwick Airport, there is a bit of ‘smoke and mirrors’ but somewhere around £39 million is close.

A bit closer to home, the Glen Croe problem up to the Rest and Be Thankful, which has been ongoing since 2007 and is regularly subject to closure, has had at least £80 million spent on it to date. It is of no surprise that Jim McColl said that ‘everything the SNP touch is a mess’. Added to that, we have the current internecine Salmond/Sturgeon/Murrell case ongoing currently swallowed up in excess of £600,000 of taxpayers’ money and rising.

Mr Wilson is perfectly entitled to his point of view, as I am to mine, but as I said in my opening paragraph, and this applies to politicians of all political persuasions, please present the full narrative not some unsubstantiated wish list.

John Newall, Campbeltown.

Neglect of A83 ‘a disgrace’

The neglect of the A83 is a disgrace. It’s not just the long detour via Crianlarich when it rains heavily, it’s the potholes and ruts when we get a spell of cold weather.

Three years ago, we had a cold winter and the A83 became a dirt track. Emergency repairs had to be carried out. The Scottish Government said it would solved the problem. Now we have another cold winter, and again emergency repairs are needed.

Other trunk roads in Scotland don’t get closed when it rains or get all these ruts and potholes in a cold winter.

We need serious money invested now to solve the A83 problems. Yet all we get from the Scottish Government is waffle about lengthy public inquiries.  We need money and action now to make the A83 as reliable as Scotland’s other trunk roads, not more cheap solutions.

Councillor Alan Reid, Cowal ward.