Letters, May 7 2021


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Fit-for-purpose cattle grids

I have been contacted by a number of my justifiably concerned constituents about the recent removal of a cattle grid on the Isle of Gigha, from the road between the ferry jetty and the village.

The space has been tarred over but I have been informed by residents that unfortunately the sub surface area was just grit and so the tar has subsided due to traffic including tractors and lorries. The dip now is actually worse than when the cattle grid was in place.

To make matters worse, the damaged cattle grid, which is now mangled metal, has been left on the adjacent roadside verge.

It is my strong belief that if cattle grids are damaged, the roads department should replace them with new fit-for-propose cattle grids, not get rid of them all together.

Not only should road repairs be made to last but at the very least the roads department should clean up after itself and remove old damaged materials such as this left behind.

If a private company or an individual member of the public left a large amount of scrap metal at the side of the road they would be in trouble.

I have contacted our roads management through member services and asked them to rectify this matter as soon as possible.

Councillor Alastair Redman, Kintyre and the Islands. 

Electric vehicle warning

I am a GP in one of Argyll’s rural practices. Last week I was having a busy morning so was a little later than usual getting back to my car, which I had left charging at an electric charge point.

That evening I was surprised to see that I’d been charged £30 over and above the normal charging rate per KwH.

I checked through the Argyll and Bute website and discovered that there is now an overstay charge – hence the surcharge.

I had received an email back in April saying that Argyll and Bute Council would now be charging users at its charge points – the cost being 25p per KwH. Fair enough.

However, there was no mention of a penalty for overstaying. Nor is there any notice at the charge points themselves, save a tiny notice stating ‘charges apply’.

Those seeking to charge in Argyll and Bute are additionally confused by the lack of clarity over what type of charge point is being used: is it a 50 Kw, 22Kw or a 7 Kw. There is no notice on the chargers. This is important because the overstay timings vary according to the differing units.

When I buy petrol at a filling station, I clearly know what the charges are; when I buy a ticket at a parking meter, I buy a ticket and know exactly how long I am able to park there.

But it seems that for electric vehicles you have to search the internet to find out the rules – and in my village there is no local WiFi and I cannot get 4G on my phone.

Dr Carina Spink, Muasdale.

Dialogue with election candidates

As a responsible democrat I thought, when this election was called, that I would write to the candidates to ask them a few questions before deciding how to vote.

We had no hustings this time, even in Campbeltown, and our MSP has not visited the town for ages. So election time seems to be the only opportunity to enter into dialogue with those who want to represent us.

Last year I published a book about the uncertain future for the rule of law in Scotland. The irreducible basis of a rule-of-law society is reciprocity between those who make the laws and those who have to obey them. Without dialogue, that is impossible.

Only two parties sent me a leaflet with enough time to allow an exchange of emails: first the SNP and then the LibDems.

I started by asking the SNP candidate, Jenni Minto, for a CV. That was initially refused, then a redacted one sent. Next, I asked about the Hate Crime Act. I got a long answer ending with a quotation from the English philosopher, Karl Popper: ‘In order to maintain a tolerant society, the society must be intolerant to intolerance.’

I wrote back quoting Bertrand Russell, who said that enforced morality is not morality at all; it is pure obedience. Likewise, enforced tolerance is not tolerance, just obedience. I asked what she thought of the criminalisation of dinner-time conversations and other aspects of the Act. It was at that point that the dialogue broke down.

I changed the subject to independence. This time I did get a reply, but it was evasive.

For example, I had asked what the most important features of the UK were that made her want Scotland to leave it. Ms Minto replied that an independent country would get the government it votes for. That implied that if Scotland and England voted for the same party, there would be no need for independence. So, by extension, what if Argyll wanted a different government from that in Holyrood? Should it declare independence from Scotland, as Orkney and Shetland have said they will if the UK breaks up? I wrote for clarification, but Ms Minto did not reply.

I also wrote to Alan Reid of the LibDems. He sent a CV, but when I replied to that with questions about LibDem policy, I heard nothing more.

That, in Scotland, appears to be the limit of dialogue between the rulers and the ruled. Perhaps that explains something about the parliament itself.

Ian Mitchell, Campbeltown.

Protect your cat from sun’s harmful rays

With Sun Awareness Week taking place this week, Cats Protection would like to advise cat owners to be aware of the risks posed to their cat by the sun.

Pale-coloured cats, or those with unpigmented white noses or ears, are particularly at risk from the sun’s rays which can cause sunburn and skin cancer.

Those affected can suffer long-term damage including, in severe cases, having to have their ear tips removed to prevent the cancer from spreading.

Following a few simple tips owners can help protect their cat from the harmful effects of the sun.

These include keeping them indoors on sunny days between 10am and 3pm, asking your vet for advice about suitable sunscreen and ensuring you provide plenty of shade to enable your cat to shelter from the sun’s rays.

Dr Sarah Elliott, central veterinary officer, Cats Protection.