Letters, March 26 2021


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Open letter to First Minister

I write to you as chairperson of the Rest and Be Thankful Campaign, a group which represents more than 1,500 Argyll businesses.

Over the past few weeks, we have twice written to Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson MSP and sadly received no response.

Regarding the Rest and Be Thankful (RABT), whilst we welcome the decision to select option one for the permanent solution of the landslide blighted section of the A83, we fear a further consultation simply delays the process – the phrase ‘kicking it into the long grass’ springs to mind. Especially when option one, the Glen Croe route, was the chosen option from the A83 Trunk Road Study – summary report published by Jacobs, issued in 2012.

Surely, after nine years of consulting, the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland can choose the best solution rather than going through a lengthy and expensive consultation process.

Based on this, our members would like the permanent solution fast tracked, which is well within the Scottish Government’s power and we would ask for this to be seriously considered.

Our other comments and feedback to last week’s announcement are as follows:

The timber road route should be upgraded as a short-term solution this summer and not in the suggested 18 months.

Argyll businesses have faced the issues of landslides for many years. However, the situation has worsened over the past year and in our opinion it has now become a national emergency and requires immediate action.

The 100,000 tonnes of unstable material could swamp any further mitigation measures put in place on the A83 and Old Military Road (OMR) and make the roads impassable. This could easily happen when we next have an extended period of rainfall.

Savings in further mitigation work could go towards upgrading the forestry road.

The long-term solution should be selected from the 2012; The A83 Trunk Road Study and based on the delivery of the most sustainable outcome.

Any well-developed permanent solution needs to be open 24/7 (even when it rains) without fear of being buried under tons of rock and mud, and will have less environmental impact than the landslides, catchpits, netting and OMR bund we are currently experiencing.

Our understanding of costs and timescales from similar schemes in Norway show a tunnel could be built in three years at a cost of £50-60m, and not the £250-800m confirmed by Transport Scotland.

Members of The RABT Campaign group represent a cross section of business sectors and we would welcome the chance to meet with your officials to discuss how we might help cut through the lengthy timescales and fast track decision making.

John Gurr, chairperson, RABT Campaign.

On Distant Shore

In the 1950s and 1960s boys were often recruited from the town and district by shipping companies. Boys went off to become marine engineers or occasionally captains for the likes of Denholms, Shell and Exxon. Recently my friend Dave Scott (ex-Meadows Avenue) a retired chief engineer gave me the challenge of writing a rhyme using his and their memories. I wonder what George Bradley or Ian Buchanan in Carradale would make of it?

I sailed the seas in a house of steel

Near and far with ports unreal

Sunsets gloried grey to red

Pressured glass, could drop like lead


Been becalmed in torpid sea

Thick kelp fields with plastic free

Battled waves that turned me sick

Roiled in breakers mountains thick


North and South thro’ cracking ice

Mortal combat freed by dice

Trolled the ocean East or West

Health oft strained by disease or pest


In ports I sampled Orient fare

Spice streets of bodies bare

Curried colour in every hue

Drunken days; non-stop spew


Days now passed with memories old

I feel the aches when muscles cold

Reflecting moments ebb and flo

Of days gone past on distant shore.

Jim McRobert, Musselburgh.

Visitors plea for a place to pee

With stay at home vacations going to be the norm this year, it doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to assume that Westport beach is going to be very busy with visitors and locals alike.

Therefore, I implore Argyll and Bute Council to take steps to put mobile toilet facilities in the car park. Can grant money from the wind turbines not be used to fund this, plus the maintenance of same.

There used to be a blue toilet facility years ago but my understanding is that the funding for the maintenance was not renewed.

As tourism for our fragile economy is even more important than ever, surely our visitors should expect more than having to sneak off to the long grass in the dunes to relieve themselves, which is not ideal to say the least.

A bigger bin unit should also be installed for the summer months for the increased amount of rubbish which will be generated.  A little forward planning in this case would be much appreciated.

Come on Kintyre put your best foot forward and be proactive and not reactive for a change.

Joanna Scott (nee Black), Clarkston, Glasgow.

Online course offers emotional wellbeing

Living with or beyond breast cancer is never easy – treatment, scans and the physical and mental impacts can take their toll.

Entering the first national lockdown a year ago today, people affected by breast cancer faced additional challenges, such as appointments and treatments being paused or cancelled, and at a time of social isolation and separation from loved ones.

As a clinical nurse specialist on Breast Cancer Now’s helpline, I hear daily how the pandemic has exacerbated an already worrying and uncertain time for people affected by breast cancer.

That’s why, when Covid-19 paused our face-to-face events and courses, we rapidly moved our services online, so that we could continue to be there for people who we know need our support now more than ever – our online services mean we’re one click away for anyone, at any time, following a breast cancer diagnosis.

Thanks to support received from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, our Moving Forward Online courses help people adjust to life after hospital treatment, offering specialist information and the chance to connect in a safe space with others who understand.

Through Younger Women Together Online, women aged up to 45 join small groups to meet and hear from experts on issues including treatment, fertility, exercise, and mental health.

For people living with incurable secondary breast cancer, we know how valuable it is to connect with others who share similar uncertainties and challenges, so our Living With Secondary Breast Cancer Online course is available 24/7, offering emotional wellbeing support and information.

No-one should face breast cancer alone; we’re always here, via our helpline and our online services. Sign up now: breastcancernow.org/online-services

Rachel Rawson, Breast Cancer Now clinical nurse specialist.