Your picture of the Week

Walter Baxter scaled the heights to reach a rooftop viewing platform for this shot from Melrose Abbey
Walter Baxter scaled the heights to reach a rooftop viewing platform for this shot from Melrose Abbey

Walter Baxter scaled the heights to reach a rooftop viewing platform for this shot from Melrose Abbey.

Please email photographs, with a brief caption, to southern-letters@jpress.co.uk

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

TRADERS PUTTING THEMSELVES FIRST

I read with interest the article on page 2 of last week’s Southern, “Group out to tackle parking problems”, reporting Scottish Borders Council’s (SBC) intention to revive a working group.

However, unless there is a change of attitude by residents and business owners, I cannot see there being an improvement.

I live just outside Kelso (1.5 miles from the town centre, to be precise) and try to support Kelso businesses, but am regularly left frustrated and angry at being unable to park anywhere convenient. I am relatively mobile and therefore use either The Knowes or Edenside workshops and then walk, but if all I want to buy is a newspaper, it would be so much more convenient to park for five minutes in The Square or somewhere in the town centre.

But time and time again I see the same cars parked in the same or nearby spaces in Horsemarket and Woodmarket which I presume are business people who arrive early and want to park outside their door.

Kelso Community Council exhorts business people to consider their customers, but it seems their own requirements come first.

Surely there must be a way that those parking all day can use The Knowes, Mayfield or Edenside workshops, leaving the town spaces for short-term parking, perhaps 30 minutes in Horsemarket and Woodmarket, and an hour elsewhere in the town centre.

Can the working group consider the use of cardboard clocks, which are used in other towns, and hope that peer pressure or guilty conscience will stop the all-day parking and sight of vehicles circling the streets or hovering in The Square waiting for a space.

There are some difficult decisions to be made by SBC. Two suggestions: demolish the old church in Bowmont Street and extend the car park there; demolish the old High School and turn that into an all-day park and ride.

Catherine Middleton

Kaimknowe

Kelso

POWERFUL ARGUMENTS

Before Nicola Sturgeon and her cronies become inspired by recent divisive events in Catalonia and decide to follow suit, we decided unilaterally to hold an independence referendum in our household.

I am delighted to report a 100% turnout with 100% supporting independence from the authoritarian, centralist SNP Scottish Government and the currently-higher levels of Scottish taxation, which will doubtless soon become punitive as further wasteful and vain projects are supported and mismanaged.

As the birthplace of the age of reason and scientific enlightenment, it is deeply embarrassing that Scotland (weakly led by the SNP) has unilaterally turned its back on all applications of sound scientific evidence in modern methods of crop production and protection, and on reliable, minimal-impact forms of essential energy production.

To rely on inefficient, unreliable, unpredictable and heavily-subsidised forms of power such as wind farms and solar (really, in Scotland!) at the expense of our iconic and beautiful landscapes is tantamount to vandalism of nature on an industrial scale.

A handful of new gas and nuclear power stations on existing sites, closer to the centres of population, would cost less to operate, be operational 24/7, and have a much smaller footprint on the landscape than our absurd number of wind turbines and mega-pylons which only distribute huge wealth from the majority of bill payers to a minority of landowners and overseas manufacturers.

Ironically, we still have to maintain or import base-load power when demand is high and the wind fails or blows too hard (paying turbine and landowners not to produce electricity) as when under high-pressure systems, summer and winter.

And how can it be environmentally sound for INEOS to be forced to import shale gas from the USA by ship it may be sitting on a plentiful supply under its feet? I can imagine INEOS must now be sorely tempted (once again) to close and move its Grangemouth operations (the largest industrial plant in Scotland) elsewhere when confronted by such Luddite attitudes and political decisions.

Environmental groups are extremely well-trained and smart at manipulating public opinion with endless repetitions of their propaganda messages, misinformation campaigns, alarming scare stories and clever lies.

Few have dared to challenge them.

They know that those in the scientifically-untrained print and broadcast media love such sensational nonsense as the ensuing headlines grab readers’ or viewers’ attention, and avoids having to do difficult technical research.

Environmental lobbyists are then not constrained by scientific facts or evidence when using this cleverly-misinformed public opinion to lobby and bludgeon weak politicians and timid regulators into achieving their irrational aims, to the economic and technological detriment of the nation, while the rest of the world makes progress.

Michael Wilson

Clovenfords

WESTMINSTER LEAGUE CHALLENGE

May I congratulate John Lamont on once again trouncing the opposition in the MSP expenses table published in last week’s Southern.

At £34,217, he has virtually equalled the combined expenses of deputy presiding officer Christine Grahame and government minister Paul Wheelhouse. We will have to wait for other results to see whether he has reclaimed his title of “Scotland’s Most Expensive MSP”, but it has been a remarkable effort in any case.

Mr Lamont has, in the meantime, moved into the Westminster League – and we know that his colleagues there are no slouches when it comes to trousering public money into their own expense accounts.

Nevertheless, with his history and obvious skills in this area, I am fully confident that Mr Lamont will be a strong challenger, even in his first season. All power to his calculator. Go John!

Eric Falconer

High Road

Galashiels

‘SUBSIDY JUNKIES’ WORTH KEEPING

“The Scots are subsidy junkies whinging like a trampled bagpipe as they wait for their next fix of English taxpayers’ money.”

This was recently said by Lord Monkton, past president of Ukip in Scotland.

We are all familiar with such ignorant insults, and also the oft-repeated mantra that Scotland is too wee, too small and too poor to be self- supporting.

Not one of these falsehoods is true, as was proven years ago, but many Scots still believe them.

If we could repress our gullibility towards a media which relentlessly demeans all things Scottish, and instead used our inquiring minds, we can find all the evidence we need to show that an independent Scotland would be one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

For example, the National Library of Scotland houses these revealing statistics. The Treasury published figures which show that in 1900 revenue from Scotland was £16,859,000; but money spent in Scotland was only £4,973,000. The sums increased almost every year up to 1921 when Scotland sent £120,386,000 to London, but of that amount a paltry £33,096,000 was spent north of the border. After that the figures were no longer published – and there is no need to wonder why, as today they would show the same disparity and more Scots might get uppity.

The obvious response to Lord Monkton’s insolent remark is: “Get rid of us then.” But the reality is that Scotland’s wealth is the reason why the Establishment will never willingly let the country go.

Richard Walthew

Whitsome Crofts

Duns

STURGEON’S GESTURE POLITICS

Nicola Sturgeon says the SNP government will pay the “settled-status” fee for all EU nationals working in the public sector in Scotland, estimated at £65 each.

I too am supportive of EU citizens remaining in the UK if they so wish – but can Ms Sturgeon afford this?

The first two devolved taxes the nationalists have touched – landfill and LBTT – are both generating significantly less than even the SNP estimated.

Education and the NHS in Scotland are suffering from a decade of neglect by the nationalist party – they’re crying out for further investment.

It’s believed Gaelic signposting in Scotland has already cost us £26m.

Derek Mackay, SNP finance secretary, is eagerly racking up debt for us at the rate of £450m pa, and plans to carry on so doing.

Can we be sure the SNP has its borrowing and spending priorities right?

Is it really targeting support for the vulnerable and needy in our society as effectively as it could?

Or are gesture politics designed to drive a wedge between us and the rest of the UK more Ms Sturgeon’s priority?

Martin Redfern

Edinburgh

A STATEMENT OF HOLYROOD INTENT

The Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement published recently should not be underestimated.

Despite not being legislative in form, it appears nonetheless to be a fundamental plank in the overall land reform process.

It sets a direction of travel for future land reform decisions and provides a stated baseline against which the Scottish Government will address the balance between the public and private interest in future decisions affecting private property rights.

It is wide ranging, applying to all urban and rural land, buildings and other infrastructure in Scotland, and is stated to be equally relevant to all the people and communities of Scotland, whether land owner, land manager, tenant or land user.

The statement comprises a vision and six principles built around a “human rights-based approach”. The vision sees all land contributing to a modern and successful country, with rights and responsibilities recognised and fulfilled. The principles address issues such as achieving a fairer society, a more diverse pattern of landownership, giving more opportunity to communities to own and lease land, sustainable management, transparency and greater community engagement. The human rights element seeks to embrace a wide collection of individual and community rights.

Is the statement a woolly collection of aspirational statements, or an enshrined backdrop for the policies of the future?

Undoubtedly, it represents a clear indication of the drivers and motivations behind the land reform movement and is a clear statement of the Scottish Government’s intent. It would be unwise to ignore it.

Robert Scott-Dempster

(partner)

for and on behalf of Gillespie Macandrew LLP

Atholl Crescent

Edinburgh

CONSERVATION AND CULINARY RECIPE

October heralds the start of the pheasant-shooting season.

As this gets under way, there will be plenty of affordable, locally-sourced and delicious game meat available. Game meat is healthy, highly nutritious and delicious.

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), the UK’s largest shooting organisation, works all year round to encourage people to try game meat.

People who shoot spend 3.9 million work days on conservation each year – the equivalent of 16,000 full-time jobs. Shoot providers spend almost £250m a year on conservation and shooting is involved in the management of two-thirds of the UK’s rural land area.

Try a roast pheasant, some tasty pheasant meatballs or a pheasant tikka masala. Ask your butcher about venison. For more information and some easy game recipes, visit www.basc.org.uk

Debbie Collins

(British Association for

Shooting and Conservation)

Rossett

Wrexham

CONSULTATION CONSPIRACY

The recent news that fracking has been banned north of the border inspired me to check responses to the Scottish Government consultation.

I was shocked to see that there are 3,405 published responses.

People whom I meet in everyday life don’t generally talk about fracking, or about the debate on renewables or so-called climate change.

The big three topics which they discuss are health, education and the cost of living. The state of the roads is another.

So I checked the responses to consultations covering all of these, and threw in a couple on renewables; a total of eight consultations. Remarkably, there were only between 12 and 100 responses to each of these.

A conspiracy theorist would claim that there has been an organised campaign to churn out fake anti-fracking responses on an industrial scale.

Geoff Moore

Alness

Highland