I could not believe the attitude of councillors over the way they decided the 120 bus service covering Kelso, Jedburgh and Hawick would no longer run after August, as they had no money for it.
There was no apology or commitment to look at a solution – it was as good as saying tough luck.
To even suggest people go to Hawick via Galashiels is laughable and smacks of desperation to drive everyone to Galashiels.
The fact that the train will not go to Melrose when the Borders Railway opens in September is laughable – tourists might like to go there as it has the abbey and nice restaurants and shops. Galashiels is very nice for shopping in New Look, Next and Matalan, and a wander along High Street, but as a tourist attraction it lacks appeal.
Surely there is room for negotiation. After all, there are some routes that could be looked at. For example, the X95. This comes through Hawick to Galashiels every hour during the day en route to Edinburgh, so do we need the Hawick-Galashiels bus going on the half-hour every hour as well?
Also, if money is getting tight for bus travel, why not do away with free passes and charge a £1 a journey – most pensioners would probably be quite happy as it is not going to discourage them from using the service as it will still be affordable, and the money would go to keeping all services going.
I hope everyone gets behind coming to a solution to keep this route serviced, as people use it a lot to go to work or shopping etc. It is no option to have no public transport covering this journey.
No voice of his own?
I read Calum Kerr’s article (Southern, July 9) on the debate in the UK parliament on English votes for English laws, hoping to hear my MP’s own views on a complex subject.
I had listened very carefully to the debate in Westminster and was struck by the thoughtfulness of some of the contributions from MPs representing English constituencies who were grappling with the issues and putting forward constructive criticism for consideration by the House.
They made me think and challenged some of my own views. Isn’t that what a parliamentary democracy is about?
Sadly most, if not all, the SNP’s contributions could not be characterised in this way. The words petty, provocative and parochial spring to mind. They focused on well-rehearsed soundbites and populist posturing, often distorting facts, exaggerating outrage and ignoring complexity.
Calum Kerr repeats many of their comments in his deeply-flawed and offensively-entitled article, “Dividing parliament over the axis of EVEL”.
It makes me think about the SNP slogan, “Making Scotland’s voice heard”. In this phrase, voice is singular, not plural.
Is the SNP’s vision of their MPs 56 versions of the same mind, or 56 different minds interacting with the other 594 MPs from all over the UK?
If individual MPs don’t have minds of their own, what is the point of them participating in debate, and how can they possibly represent a whole nation, many of whom have lived or will live in other parts of the UK?
In his maiden speech, Calum Kerr emphasised the history of bloody conflict between Scotland and England across the border. It is a shame that he did not highlight this region’s independence in the face of competing national identities and its ability to see both sides of a conflict because of its proximity to neighbours, who just happened to be born or live south of an arbitrary line.
I look forward to Calum Kerr finding his own voice, but fear this would be viewed as treachery by his party rather than strength of character, independence of mind and a real contribution to democracy.
Fresh talent v old skills
With reference to Councillor John Mitchell’s letter (Southern, July 9) in response to questions about the prudence of allowing employees to leave and then replacing them as being savings to the taxpayer, I will have one final attempt at getting a straight answer from him.
His comments so far have knocked Chubby Checker off his mantle as “King of the Twist” with his manipulation of my words, seeking answers.
Firstly, I have never attempted to deny hard-working teachers the opportunity to apply for early retirement as I know that they have worked hard and will be at the end of their tether with the way Scottish Borders Council’s education programme is handled by elected members and paid officials.
A teacher friend once told me that there are some wonderful opportunities and great jobs within education – but being a teacher isn’t one of them. And even more of a slap in the face to those hard-working, outgoing teachers is Councillor Mitchell’s comment, “I see opportunities to enhance education for our young people by bringing in fresh talent into the Borders and to save money”.
No wonder there are so many teachers looking to leave early when councillors regard them as old skills, over the hill and their experience counts for nothing.
So, let’s get it straight once and for all. My comments were nothing to do with allowing teachers to retire early, but were to do with the insistence that the decision by SBC to do so was a money-saving exercise to taxpayers in allowing 38 teachers to leave early with financial enhancements, and then to employ 38 new teachers to replace them, teaching the exact same subjects.
My challenge was about the sums that brought Councillor Mitchell to the fact that this was a great financial saving. I wanted to know how this calculation was made.
His comments regarding the freezing of council tax appeared from nowhere in an attempt to hide from the question that was posed.
He mentions that I am “... not in office, faced with making complex, difficult, sometimes – let’s face it – unpopular decisions …”. What a blooming shame, everyone picking on the poor councillors. Is that not what they are paid very handsomely for? Doing the job you are paid to do, plus generous expenses?
Regarding the other matters of New Earth Solutions and the tapestry build spending, I would draw attention to the remarks of his fellow councillor, Gordon Edgar, who spelt out the cost of the folly in building new flagpoles as to how many lorry loads of tar those costs equated to. The costs of this spend could improve every road in the Borders – no potholes and no insurance claims.
Give the taxpayers some real answers. If you were a teacher trying to explain those mathematics to pupils they would be scratching their heads, just as I am.
A dangerous obstruction
Cars parked irresponsibly on pavements can cause a potentially-dangerous obstruction for pedestrians as it can force them onto the road and into the path of vehicles.
Newly-released research by YouGov has shown that three quarters (74%) of people are affected by vehicles parked on the pavement. Some groups – including people with sight loss, older people or those with buggies – are at greater risk. And 91% of respondents living with sight loss who responded to a Guide Dogs survey said parked cars on the pavement regularly obstruct them.
You can see how dangerous pavement parking can be in real-life video footage, filmed from a guide dog’s view, of a guide dog and their owner having to go out into the road to get around a car at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMQt-cfEFsg
Fooled by promises
Derek Hammersley, chairman of the European Movement in Scotland, said: “Leaving the EU would be very damaging”.
He then went on to explain that certain farmers gathering at the Royal Highland Show had emphasised to Scottish Secretary David Mundell their support for the UK’s continued membership of EU, and cited recent figures of growth in food and drink sectors.
The trouble is that Derek is already a champion of our continued membership of the EU, so any figures he gives are not necessary correct in interpretation.
I have heard all the claims for us joining the EEC back in 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971 from Harold Wilson, then Ted Heath, who took us in. Their arguments, like Derek’s, contained no backed-up figures that we could test and check up on, wild assertions of milk and honey, and speculation upon speculation.
As I recall, all those rosy promises failed to materialise after we joined and we became a milk cow, when even France was getting some of our cash.
In the 40-odd years since we joined, Britain has paid up for little tangible returns. Common sense tells me we could not have faired worse by being outside this giant bureaucracy that talks democracy, while trampling it under foot.
What Britain gave up at a crucial point in world trade was our special relationship with the Commonwealth and our other traditional trading partners for fools’ promises of jam tomorrow.
Eric R.S. Davidson
Shining light on claims
With banner headlines, the solar industry earlier this month declared that a sixth of the UK’s power came from sunshine.
It was quite ironic to read this article as the rain came down in torrents.
The industry claims solar energy would be as cheap as fossil-fuel electricity by 2020, 56,900 jobs would be created and it would need no subsidies.
The wind industry has also made similar unrealistic claims.
Those who can afford to pay for solar panels are being subsidised by their neighbours who can’t.
The industry talks of a new generation of batteries being developed to store energy, but in Spain proposed legislation would force owners of solar-plus-storage systems to pay additional taxes. Over the last five years the Spanish government has aggressively rolled back subsidies for all renewable energy technologies, and this has been especially adverse for the solar industry.
Spain’s supreme court recently rejected a lawsuit brought by solar developers against the Spanish government for cutting solar subsidies.
Still think solar is a good investment?
Canary in the coal mine
Ever since whistle-blower Edward Snowden revealed the existence of the US and UK mass surveillance programmes two years ago, Amnesty International has been worried that we ourselves might have been snooped on.
This month the tribunal which oversees UK surveillance matters confirmed that we had indeed been spied on by UK spooks.
We still don’t know what private information they’ve been looking at, why it was of interest, who read it, or if they’re still spying on us.
We need answers and we want Premier David Cameron to set up an independent inquiry into how spying on campaign organisations was allowed to happen, and what justification there could possibly be for such an invasive and chilling violation of privacy.
Amnesty is the canary in the coal mine here. If they’re snooping on us, then is anyone safe? Who’s next – the Women’s Institute? The Girl Guides?
Is this really the sort of surveillance state we want to live in
Moira M. Walsh
(chairperson, Borders group, Amnesty International) Broomloan
On the write track
It’s a source of real concern for the cultural life of our nation that most Scottish writers earn less than the minimum wage for their writing – a key finding of a new report from Creative Scotland.
A survey commissioned by the Saltire Society last year found Scottish writing has a broad appeal.
Almost 70% of Scottish adults said they purchase new books by Scottish writers and almost a third buy at least one new book by a Scottish writer every six months.
But this new report highlights the real challenges today’s Scottish writers face in making a living from their work.
The Saltire Society recently launched a new trust with the aim of raising £5million by St Andrew’s Day 2016 to help foster Scotland’s cultural talent. One early ambition of the trust will be to create the Saltire Fellowships scheme which would provide financial support to enable exceptional individuals in Scottish arts and culture to devote their full energies to their work.
Once established, I sincerely hope some of Scotland’s outstanding writing talent can benefit from the scheme.
That way, we can help ensure that Scottish writing continues to make a valuable contribution to our cultural life for many years to come.
The Saltire Society
Ednam tea party
I’d like to thank everyone who helped make the Blooming Great Tea Party in aid of Marie Curie in Ednam village hall on June 28 such a huge success.
As a family we organised it in memory of Phil Molyneux, a greatly-missed husband, father and Pops. We also wanted to express our gratitude to the wonderful Marie Curie nurses who made such a difference in the last week of his life, enabling him to pass away peacefully at home.
Heartfelt thanks to everyone, including so many businesses in Kelso who donated items for the raffle and tombola, to people who donated money and, of course, to the many people who came along to the party.
Thank you to all the additional bakers and the wonderful helpers on the day – we could not have done it without you.
The event raised £1,300.
Veterans on parade
The annual KOSB Association Minden Parade will take place in The Barracks, Berwick, on Saturday, August 1.
Everyone intending to take part should make every effort to be there by 10.30am. We will form up at 10.45am, march on at 11.45am and march out of the barracks at 12.30pm.
This is the only parade of this type in the country, so I urge all KOSB veterans to make sure that they get to Berwick on time. Bring your family and let them enjoy the day too.