COUNCIL Objectivity called into question

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I was interested to see the front page of last week’s Southern, given that I had been following the Liddesdale Community Council saga for some time.

My interest stems from a continuing involvement in a range of Liddesdale concerns in case anyone might wonder why, with my current address, I am writing.

Councillor George Turnbull is correct to be cynical over the fact that the Hermitage Action Group against the proposed Windy Edge wind energy development is also the group proposing a new community council for Upper Liddesdale and Hermitage.

This group has managed to persuade members of Scottish Borders Council community council scheme review group that a new community council is necessary in terms of giving its (little over 100) rural residents a voice.

Without going into all the Scottish Government aims and objectives which allow for such new rural bodies to be created as “a good thing” to further “community partnership” development, I would seriously question why such as suggestion ever got as far as it has, if the conversations I have had with local people pan-Liddesdale are anything to go by

A new community council is not needed in order for any individual or group to object to any planning proposal and Newcastleton Community Council should have been correctly advised on how to deal with the multiplicity of opinions and views as they relate to interpretations of planning regulations and objections. This should have been done some time ago rather than potentially allow for a breakaway from Newcastleton and District Community Council which, since the 1970s, has been the best community voice for the area.

Having had a look at the paperwork of the community council review group since January I was amused to note from the minutes of the February meeting references to the conclusions reached at meetings in March – prophetic indeed!

This leads me to conclude that quality of professional advice being given to Liddesdale from the outset by a council “business consultant” has to be seriously questioned. Equally, the involvement of three councillors for the area in the potential creation of a new community council calls into question their objectivity when dealing with any wind energy planning applications, given the duality of membership of those calling for a separate community council and the wind farm action group.

It is a pity that, as in days gone by, real community views and honest opinions could be gleaned by giving sensible guidance and information to the community, rather than allowing things to get to the stage they are at now, where people are being asked to vote on something for which the majority have inadequate information upon which to base any decision.

Val Robson

Kirn Dunoon

Argyll and Bute

BGH Pool

Insulting our intelligence

Various reasons have been used to justify the closure of the hydrotherapy pool at Borders General Hospital and relocate it at Jedburgh.

I have read the full consultation paper, Rehabilitation – New Models of Care – Hydrotherapy, submitted to the NHS Borders board this year which can be found online. Others can read this by going to http://www.nhsborders.org.uk and typing “Rehabilitation – New Models of Care – Hydrotherapy” into the search box in the top right corner.

Comparing the numbers of people attending outpatients with those attending the hydrotherapy pool is misleading and, in my opinion, a red herring.

The outpatients department assesses and treats a huge variety of symptoms and conditions, variable in their nature and severity, many not requiring further or ongoing medical intervention. Inevitably, the sheer scale of outpatient users will dwarf those numbers using the hydrotherapy pool (or indeed any other department).

The statistic could be seen to imply that a dedicated hydrotherapy pool is not as worthy a treatment in its own right as the outpatients department because less people use it.

This is clearly not the case given the swell of vocal opposition to its proposed closure. Also, as the BGH chooses to employ only one specialised hydrotherapist, it inevitably limits the number of patients who can be in the pool at any one time and ultimately the number of referrals to the pool.

Indeed, one wonders whether a system of under-referral has been implicitly operating behind the scenes, given that the pool’s future has been hanging in the balance for some time, even before this controversial plan was made public.

If the aim, as stated in the consultation paper, is to “maintain and predominantly improve the environment and service delivery” of hydrotherapy, I fail to see how relocating it to Jedburgh can achieve “more equitable access”, given that this town is situated on the outer edge of the Borders. Even less people will be able to access it due to the distances involved.

The original consultation paper emphasises the need to “enable” patients to take responsibility for their own health and to develop “resilience”. I have to do these things already every single day of my life, as do many others with chronic pain.

All of this talk about moving away from professional dependency into community-based, person-centred enabling services is all very well, but it makes me somewhat suspicious. Using these cosy buzzwords to justify the removal of a vital and unique service is not only a smokescreen, it’s also an erosion of the NHS and an insult to our intelligence.

Alison Fox

Selkirk

With the passage of 25 years, it is understandable that Kenneth Gunn (letters, May 23) has confused me with the former chairman of the health board, the late John Gibb.

In 1988, I was secretary of the health board and subsequently general manager until my retirement. I am happily still very much alive.

When the health board decided to close Selkirk and Galashiels cottage hospitals in 1988, it provided general practitioner beds in the new Borders General Hospital. These were well used for some years, but the pattern of health care is not constant.

As I remember (and I have difficulty recalling the precise terms of the board’s decision), the board approved considering reinstatement of GP beds in Selkirk if resources permitted. Since then, the board has had to face up to demands of new medical developments and technology, having regard to demographics, resources and changing patterns of health care. This led, over time, to the provision of palliative care and stroke services in place of the GP beds in Borders General Hospital, with GPs delivering professional medical support in a variety of community settings.

Health services in the Borders have progressed markedly since 1988, and we enjoy a level and quality of service which surpasses that of 1988, and of other areas of Scotland (and England).

The health board of 1988 did not lie to the people of Selkirk. It was, and still is, almost impossible to meet all the competing claims for health service resources. The board of 1988 had to decide where the clearest priorities lay. That, too, is the task of the health board of 2013.

I am sure that the health board is well aware of the undoubted value of hydrotherapy services and will be seeking a positive, cost-effective and acceptable solution to their maintenance. Perhaps that could be in Selkirk or Galashiels, either of which offers a convenient central location.

David A. Peters OBE

Gattonside

RESEARCH

Cutting carbon emissions

I’m a PhD researcher at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and the University of Edinburgh.

My PhD aims to investigate the challenge of reducing Scotland’s domestic carbon emissions whilst ensuring residents can continue to keep warm in their homes.

To meet this aim, I’m keen to interview participants (aged 18 and over) in the Borders on issues relating to lowering carbon emissions, energy-efficient technology and heat and comfort in the home. I have chosen this region as an area of study as this meets the definition of rural. It is intended that this research will provide a greater understanding of these issues within a rural context.

The purpose of this study is exploratory and will be used to inform further research as part of my PhD. The information provided during the interview will be for research purposes only and will remain confidential and anonymous.

If you are interested in taking part please contact me. As a thank you, those who have registered an interest in being interviewed can choose to be entered into a prize draw to win a £30 Love2shop voucher.

Emma Sutherland

(email: emma.sutherland@sruc.ac.uk; phone 07759 677939)

squadron home

Information appeal

Did you serve with 152 (Hyderabad) Squadron between 1940-1967, or did your father or grandfather serve with them? If so, please get in touch.

For many years the squadron has been looking for a home so that everything we have put together is available for everyone to see, read and hear about. We’ve finally found one and we’re hoping to put together a small collection of the squadron’s history for future generations.

Please contact me on 01473 251219 or um152squadron@gmail.com if you have any stories, information or items you would like to donate.

Rob Rooker

Ipswich

Suffolk

Thanks

Volunteers’ contribution

During Volunteers’ Week (June 1-7), I would like to recognise and celebrate the magnificent contribution that our volunteers make across every part of Children 1st.

Their hard work and enthusiasm enables us to directly support more vulnerable children, young people and families in our local services; ensures we can provide important national services such as ParentLine Scotland and Safeguarding in Sport; contributes greatly to our fundraising by organising events, taking part in fundraising activities and working in our charity shops; and helps us in administration, policy influencing, finance, IT and more.

Quite simply we could not do what we do without them.

During this year, a total of 929 volunteers in a variety of different roles contributed an incredible 34,682 hours to the work of the charity. This contribution of hours given by volunteers equates to £214,682 if they were paid at the minimum wage.

Anne Houston

(chief executive)

Grateful motorcyclist

I would like to thank staff at Sainsbury’s in Kelso for allowing me to put my motorcycle inside the store to raise money for The Sick Kids Foundation.

I raised a grand total of £345.43p and would also like to thank all the customers who kindly donated towards the charity.

Robert Jeffrey

Lindisfarne Gardens

Berwick

Lifeboat fair

at Selkirk

Selkirk Lifeboat Committee would like to thank everyone who supported our recent spring fair.

Special thanks go to Down to Earth for the raffle prize and Viewfield Service Centre for sponsoring “The Lucky Lifeboat Station”. The winning stations drawn were The Mumbles (Kevin Mitchell) and Skegness (Aileen Wilson).

The total sum raised for the RNLI was £473.

Doreen E. Mitchell

(secretary)

Hillside Terrace

Selkirk

conference

International speaker

The second Keswick in the Borders interdenominational Bible teaching conference will take place in St Boswells Parish Church from September 27-29.

International speaker Gareth Bolton, from Operation Mobilisation is to attend. Full details from www.keswickintheborders.co.uk.

William J. McClelland

(chair)