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gagging law

MP’s vote was disappointing

It really is disappointing Michael Moore MP ignored his constituents, as well as the many charities and campaigning groups that have spoken out against the gagging law. He also rejected the Lord’s positive amendments.

The gagging law introduces new rules that would prevent non politicians from speaking up on the big issues of the day.

Loads of charities and campaign groups have spoken up about it – not just 38 Degrees – from the Royal British Legion to Oxfam, to the RSPB.

Despite how vocal civil society has been about the problems with this law, the government has been trying to rush it through without proper scrutiny.

Groups that normally wouldn’t agree have been uniting to speak out against this law.

Politics is too important to leave to political parties, and in a healthy democracy everyone should be able to express their views.

James Stewart

Lanton, Jedburgh

wind farms

Breaking access laws

One of the outcomes of having a wind farm development in your community is that the developer has no qualms about breaking Scottish access laws by preventing walkers and cyclists from going across land that was previously accessible.

In our case SSE has posted its Site Security Office for its Langhope Rig Development at the entrance to the forest near Alemoor Reservoir, to prevent access to unauthorised traffic. The forest road is being used to access the site of the wind farm which is a number of miles away. At the same time, SSE are also refusing access to walkers/cyclists/horse riders who wish to use the forest track.

We understand that SSE do not want unauthorised traffic/people on the construction site itself. In this case, they should be fencing off the construction site and not annexing acres of land around the site on the grounds of health and safety.

Forestry Commission Scotland understands its social and legal resposibility by encouraging access to its forests for recreational purposes to walkers, bikers and those on horseback. This includes areas of forest which are being actively managed by the commission. At the same time FCS prevents access to unauthorised vehicles by installing simple barriers. Barring access or padlocking gates to prevent access to the Scottish countryside including forest tracks by walkers/cyclists/riders is (with very few limited exceptions) illegal under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.

This morning, my husband tried to cycle along the track near Alemoor Resevoir and was advised by SSE security person that “no-one was allowed to go on SSE’s land”.

A local farmer had a similar experience when he was told that he was not allowed to go for a walk along the track.

We have been in touch with SBC’s access officer Mr Keith Robson, and given him the number of Langhope Rig’s Community Liason Officer Christine McDowall so that 
he can discuss the matter with her.

It seems rich that not only did members of Roberton community have to put up with Martins Bridge being closed for months so that the bridge could be enlarged to take turbine blades, making for a difficult journey into town and cutting us off from normal delivery services, but we are now being told that we are to be denied one of our favourite walks/cycling routes because they happen to be en-route to a wind farm site.

Name and address supplied


independence

The UK v the EU?

Despite frequent and very public statements by EC and EU Presidents Jose Manuel Barroso and Herman Van Rompuy that an independent Scotland cannot assume

automatic membership of the EU, Mr. Salmond and his cronies insist (as in all things) that post-2016 “there will be no problem” and “all will be well” (as in every other area of the inevitable muddle that their lunatic obsession will bring down upon us).

Emboldened by the madness unfolding in Scotland, Catalonia is now seeking an independence referendum in November 2014.

But the EU has stated categorically that it will not recognise Catalonia as an independent state. So why is the SNP so convinced, so naïve, or so untruthful to say that Scotland can remain (or even be permitted to become) a member of the EU? Why are they so keen to bite the English hand that has supported us for over 300 years, yet embrace a far more remote and distant bureaucratic master in Brussels?

One answer may lie in knowing that a small, financially insecure, relatively poor and remote independent state on the outer edge of the EU (like the new Balkan states or the Republic of Ireland) would inevitably get into economic distress, then be able to beg for hand-outs from the Eurozone (mostly Germany).

The truth is that no-one may want to “own” and support a self-inflicted, non-viable independent Scotland, managed by the self-serving second-rate clowns in that expensive circus at Holyrood.

Dr Michael Wilson


No quick fix over EU

Patrick Layden QC,a former senior legal adviser to the SNP on European and constitutional affairs, takes a contrary view to Sir David Edward.

In the opinion of the QC, there is now a general acceptance in international law and by other countries that an independent Scotland would no longer be within the EU and that amendments to the Treaties would be required to admit Scotland.

I suppose Scotland could choose to challenge this through the courts. At the pace the courts move, it would take several years for the matter to wend its way through the different courts and appeals procedures for a decision to be handed down.This would be before any membership negotiations could even begin.It would be manna from heaven for the lawyers.

Meanwhile, back in the real world,it remains the case that the 28 member state European Council may only proceed on the basis of unanimity on membership and Treaty amendment issues. I notice that none of the paper’s correspondents has attempted to dispute this. How could they? It’s a fact.

How the SNP intend to get round the unanimity roadblock has never been explained. All we have been offered is sidesteps and bodyswerves. Anything to avoid addressing the central problem for Scotland of this unanimity requirement.

Incidentally, for the sake of accuracy, I said that “during the interim period”, while Scotland was still part of the UK negotiations with the EU would have to be conducted by the member state on behalf of Scotland. For obvious reasons, there is no EU mechanism that enables regions of member states to negotiate directly with the EU. If there were I am sure the Scottish government would have been doing so for years.

Of course, once Scotland was independent it would be free to deal directly with the EU.

The point is, however, largely academic. It is very unlikely that any agreement would be reached among the 28 member states (that infernal unanimity requirement again) for negotiations to begin with Scotland before Scotland was independent.

There would be no quick fix as fondly propagated by the SNP in the White Paper. The process would be long and messy with a very uncertain outcome.

Peter Heald

Kelso

homelessness

Wear a woolly hat for charity

Your readers may well be aware that homelessness is on the rise across the UK, with a 31 per cent increase in rough sleeping over the last two years alone.

I’m writing to you about St Mungo’s Woolly Hat Day tomorrow (January 31) when we’re asking people to generously support our work with homeless and vulnerable people by putting a hat on and raising funds and awareness.

At St Mungo’s we support rough sleepers off the streets and into emergency accommodation, help people recover from homelessness through housing, health and skills services and work to prevent people ending up without a place to call home.

St Mungo’s Woolly Hat Day is a fun way to show your support as we’re reminded about those sleeping on the streets when the weather turns colder. Schools, offices and community groups are supporting us, along with celebrity campaign supporters Joanna Lumley and comedian Alexei Sayle.

Please get involved by wearing a hideous hat or simply pull on that trusted old beanie for the day. Find out more at www.woollyhatday.org

You can also get involved by taking part in our Woolly Hat Day celebrity hat auction, where you can bid for hats donated by stars, including Elton John, Adam Ant, Chris Martin, Elvis Costello, Michael Buble and even a deerstalker signed by Sherlock himself, Benedict Cumberbatch.

Tanya English

Executive director of fundraising and communications,St Mungo’s

journalism

Future of our industry

In an increasingly complex and fractured digital age, the demand for quality journalism and trusted news brands has never been greater, and the work of Scottish journalists has never reached such wide audiences as it does now.

Future journalists, designers and editors will come from the generation of ‘digital natives’ now growing up in an age of smartphones and superfast broadband. Like others who went on to successful carve out careers in the media, the journalists of tomorrow are likely to be learning their craft – and how to work as part of a team – on a school publication.

Led by Menzies Distribution and supported by many leading organisations in the media, publishing and education, the imPRESS awards scheme is designed to recognise their efforts.

And in June, the very best of the print and digital productions created in Scottish classrooms will be celebrated at a presentation ceremony in Edinburgh.

Scotland has a long and proud tradition of excellence in journalism and publishing. I have every confidence that it will remain at the forefront of innovation and best practice in a fast-changing media world.

So, I would urge students from all parts of the country to show that the sector will be in good hands by showcasing their work through the awards and entering via http://ImpressScotland.co.uk

John McLellan

Director, Scottish 
Newspaper Society

thanks

Pupils’ Asda fundraiser

I would like to express a huge thanks to staff and shoppers in Asda who kindly allowed Galashiels Academy pupils to pack their shopping for them on Saturday. This was a fundraiser for The Gail Wilson Memorial Trust, which succesfully raised a fantastic £422.63.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Academy pupils who gave up their time on a Saturday to help. They were very well turned out in their school uniforms, polite and an absolute credit to Galashiels Academy.

Shelley Foster

Secretary, Gail Wilson 
Memorial Trust

Good wishes are for all

Can I say a huge thank you to all who have sent me cards, letters, messages, flowers and emails on the occasion of my being named in the New Year’s Honours List.

It is particularly gratifying to get these from the local population, but to get messages from all over Scotland, and indeed from all over the world, praising the work of Scottish HART is something that I hadn’t expected.

All of you have touched me greatly. It has been an uphill battle to get to where we are and we intend to continue to push the screening programme and also the distribution of defibrillators across Scotland.

I accept the award in the knowledge that a lot of people have helped me and the charity, and the recognition is for all of us.

Thank you all once again,

Wilma Brydon Gunn M.B.E.

Selkirk

thought for 
the week

Have you ever missed the point? Perhaps you misunderstood what was being said or the significance of an action.

On one occasion Jesus seemed to get the wrong end of the stick. Some people carried a man, who was unable to walk, to Jesus. They clearly had heard of his remarkable healing powers and hoped that he could do something for their friend.

Surprisingly, at first, Jesus didn’t offer healing. Instead, looking directly into the man’s eyes he forgave his sins. How odd, we might think, that Jesus initially was so insensitive to the man’s physical sufferings. However, Jesus saw that the man had a more fundamental need, God’s forgiveness, and he dealt with that first before going on to bring wholeness to the man’s body too.

The fantastic claim of Christianity is that Jesus is still in the business of wiping away that which stands between us and God, sin, giving us a fresh, new beginning. We only need to ask.

Recently I received a letter from my bank, which had been forwarded from an old address. This was perturbing. The bank helpline assured me that my address had been changed on the system. Nonetheless, somewhere there lingers on, a digital memory of the past.

A fresh start in everyday life is sometimes difficult to achieve. Memories or old failings tend to haunt us. All the better then, that when God forgives he forgets completely.

Revd Dr Adam Hood