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TORY CUTS

How would you close the gap, John?

I normally take things said by local Tory MSP John Lamont with a pinch of salt, but his comments in last week’s Southern are so misleading I felt I had to respond.

His party in Westminster is putting all Scottish public services under the cosh through its austerity cuts, including, sadly, the Scottish Court Service which, in turn, is having to take a long-to-medium term view on how to manage its services best with reduced funding.

He never mentioned the fact that south of the border the ConDems are closing county courts at an astonishing rate, not to mention the slashing of police numbers. In Scotland, under the SNP, police numbers are going up and the crime rate is going down.

Instead of ridiculing alternative options as suggested by SNP MSP Christine Grahame, why doesn’t he do what he’s paid for and tell us how he intends to close the gap?

In his next statement he is off again trying to condemn renewable energy.

I can assure the people of the Borders that all wind farm planning applications presented to Scottish Borders Council are considered on their own merits. I can only speak for SNP members on that committee and they do not pre-judge any application for party political or any other reason. If successful, generally wind farm permits have a 25-year lifespan, by which time the chances are that this form of power generation will have been superceded.

Furthermore, with its abundance of tidal, wave and offshore wind energy resources, Scotland is on target to be one of the biggest producers of renewable power in Europe by the mid-2020s.

He knows full well that right now, under European law, we have to produce a percentage of our power from renewables. Once again, John, how do you suggest we do it?

I ask the people of this region to think back to how, over the years, this negative brainwashing has convinced many Borderers that we couldn’t justify a railway, community hospitals or country schools. Can you also remember how local Tories wanted to shrink the number of swimming pools etc. etc.

Under Tory rule, we are now being asked to pay off the debts of an irresponsible banking industry which they deregulated in the first place – all to keep the Conservatives’ wealthy millionaire chums living in the lap of luxury.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel and, thankfully, we can vote “Yes” next September and get rid of this outdated government that was never elected by the people of Scotland in the first place.

Councillor Jim Brown

(Jedburgh and District)

COURTS

MSP failing to represent us

“Who am I to gainsay?” asks MSP Christine Grahame (Grahame moved by judge’s closure case, Southern, June 6).

Ms Grahame has been appointed as a Borders MSP to fight for facilities within our community and also to represent 0ur regional interests in the Scottish Parliament.

In respect of the SNP’s court-closure proposals, it appears that she has neither the will to act on our behalf, nor the fortitude to make it clear what she intends to do – until she does it. When a representative fails to represent, we are left with a thoroughly-reprehensible position in that our interests are overlooked.

One might hope that this will be addressed by the voters at the next Edinburgh parliamentary elections.

Steven McKeane

(UKIP Scottish Borders)

Ellwyn Terrace

Galashiels

tv coverage

Independence debate pledge

Like John Lamont, I am pleased that ITV has pledged to offer “full and extensive coverage” of the independence debate (Southern, June 6).

I hope that this promise will not be too long in implementation. Sadly, most TV coverage of Borders affairs is very firmly stuck in what could be kindly described as “B-team mode”.

However, there is hope. Proper investment in decent Scottish broadcasting will surely be one of the many rewards of escaping from the political control and cultural indifference of London government.

Douglas Hunter

Harestanes

Ancrum

CHERNOBYL

Children still need our help

In 1991, five years after the worst nuclear accident in history when 400 times more radioactive material was released than by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the charity Chernobyl Children’s Life Line (CCLL) was founded.

Its aim was to bring children from the contaminated areas to the UK for four weeks’ respite from the contamination.

Fast forward over two decades and the charity is still needed every bit as much as it was in those early years. Nearly 50,000 children have been brought over to the UK to stay with host families in the last 22 years.

Because of poverty, these are children who still live on land that remains heavily contaminated and they eat food grown on contaminated ground – and many go on to develop thyroid cancer, bone cancer and leukaemia as a direct consequence of their continuing exposure to Chernobyl’s fallout.

Doctors have stated again and again that giving these children access to just four weeks of clean, fresh air and good, uncontaminated food can add, on average, two years to their life expectancy. This is a very powerful incentive for the people who host and support the children when they are over here – not to mention the laughter and smiling faces of the youngsters.

While they are in the Borders, children take part in pre-arranged activities as well as seeing the sea for the first time. Local dentists and opticians check their teeth and eyesight, providing free dental care or glasses if required. Giving of their time and their businesses’ money is very much appreciated by the charity, the children and the children’s families who, very importantly, support the charity back in Belarus.

Despite it being their first trip out of their country and away from their families for the first time, there are always far more applications from parents and schools than places available. Consideration is always given to the most needy and, if last year is anything to go by, most of the children only had one parent living.

The Borders link of CCLL is now gearing up for the 2013 visit, with a four-week stay of eight children in July. While CCLL is always looking for new host families and support people, the arrangements for July are now in place. But if you’d like to know more about the charity, or hosting or support in 2014, then contact chairman Fraser Simm on 01578 730297 or email secretary Sarah Barton at Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline Scottish Borders Link CCLL@sarahbarton.co.uk.

While most arrangements for this year’s trip are in place, the charity needs additional funds as it costs upwards of £600 to bring each child to the Borders – and this year the costs for the charity is around £5,000. So any help people can give (either directly or by fundraising themselves) will be gratefully received and the laughter and smiles on the faces of the children will, hopefully, be the reward for financial help.

Paul Docherty

Justice Park

Oxton

FLODDEN

Atmospheric experience

Reading Bob Burgess’s column in last week’s Southern prompted me to think about “Scotland’s Common Ridings” – a book by Kenneth R. Bogle which is well worth a read.

As this is a special year – the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden – how I wish I was fit to ride. But age catches up with us all.

The hairs on the back of my neck used to stand up when the band played “O a’ the airts”, and then you were off down the green, across the water and away into the hills. Happy days.

I wonder what is going through the Selkirk standard bearer’s mind as he comes in at The Toll during this special year. A feeling of pride? – after all, he is following in Fletcher’s footsteps.

The ride to Flodden during Coldstream Civic Week is something else. I had heard others talk about the atmosphere at the monument – I, too, experienced it a few times.

There is something so atmospheric up there – a stillness – and even on the warmest of days there is a chill in the air.

When they play “The flowers 0’ the forest”, it is quite unique. You really have to be there to experience it.

Janette Barrand

Dovecot Road

Peebles

KELSO SQUARE

Completely

out of touch

I gather there are plans to ruin the beautiful square in Kelso by putting up a piece of modern art.

Why don’t the powers that be just put a giant wind turbine there, to show how completely out of touch they are with public opinion ?

Keith Cull

Whitsome

tHANKS

Table-top sale at Newtown

On behalf of Newtown in Bloom I would like thank the people who donated items for our table-top sale, those who helped out on the day and the many villagers who came and spent their money so generously.

With all of your support, plus cash donations from others, we were able to make a grand total £829.71 over the weekend which will go a long way towards providing planters, hanging baskets and flowers throughout the village.

Over the past year our volunteers have been greatly encouraged by the support we have received from local residents and the Newtown business community who have sponsored floral baskets. We have received generous help in our efforts from Milestone Garden & Leisure, Bob Johnston at Philiphaugh Plants and Borders College.

Special mention must go to Nigel Gibb who lectures in horticulture at Borders College. By deploying his students for big projects, including the baskets at Newtown Bridge End and the large planters at Langlands Road, he has fostered links between college and village while providing useful experience for the students themselves. In his own time, Nigel has been invaluable as a volunteer gardener, fundraiser and consultant.

Newtonians who would like to help can contact me on 01835 823476, email daryl@ashleyhouse.org.uk or come along on any Monday or Thursday when we meet up at 6.30pm outside the Co-op. To find out more, visit Newtowninbloom.blogspot.com

Daryl du Bois

(Newtown in Bloom

co-ordinator)

Tweedside Road

Newtown

Christian Aid

collection

The wonderful fundraising response in and around Kelso for Christian Aid Week last month has resulted in the magnificent sum of £6,807.63.

Absolutely fantastic, especially in such difficult times.

This has been achieved by people supporting the house-to-house town collection, MusicAid concert in Kelso North Church, QuizAid at the Cross Keys, Frugal Lunches in May by members of St Andrew’s Church and fundraising by Kelso Country Churches.

My sincere thanks go to all who supported Christian Aid in any way, especially the house-to- house collectors from all the churches. Special thanks to the Cross Keys Hotel for hospitality and generous sponsoring of QuizAid again.

The result of such good co-operation and wonderful generosity is that three communities in drought-prone southern Zimbabwe can now be provided with a sand dam, ensuring they have a sustainable supply of clean, fresh water for drinking and watering crops.

Ruth McGrath

(Kelso Churches Together Christian Aid co-ordinator)

Pinnaclehill Gardens

Kelso

Kelso blood

donor sessions

We would like to thank everyone who helped with the blood-donor sessions when we visited Kelso Tait Hall on June 2 and 3.

A total of 314 volunteers offered to give blood and 282 donations were given. There were seven new donors.

Caroline Tutt

(donor programme

organiser)

Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service

Lavender Touch boost

We would like to thank everyone who attended or helped out with the plant sale at Glendouglas Hall.

An ongoing total of £2,500 has been raised so far for The Lavender Touch, which is fantastic.

Mary Beaton and Ina Lunn

AWARD

A fitting tribute

We are delighted that the Charity Begins At Home (CBAH) shop in Kelso has won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

This prestigous award, we feel, is recognition and a fitting tribute to Joyce Cavers, the only remaining founder member who still takes an active part in the running of the shop.

Janet Ferguson and Audrey Turnbull are surviving founder members, but have now retired from active service.

We are very proud of them in their wonderful achievement and thrilled that our shop has been honoured nationally.

Eilean Hogarth

(secretary, Charity Begins At Home)