Hacked off down by the riverside
A series of incidents with children getting horribly blistered by playing with Giant Hogweed seems to have spurred a spate of native hogweed hacking along some parts of the River Tweed.
This is, by the way, occurring without the landowners’ permission.
Native hogweed grows to about 1.5 metres, often less, has dull, green, rough, hairy leaves and a hairy ridged stem. The flowerheads are about a hand’s width across.
It is flowering now. It provides nectar for a number of insects, but can cause burns or irritation on sensitive skins.
Giant Hogweed is a seriously giant plant. It can grow up to 5 metres tall with huge umbrella-like flowerheads. The main stem is about wrist thickness, smooth and with purple blotches. The leaves are lighter green, very large (over a metre long), more or less hairless and look slightly shiny. See www.nonnativespecies.org for ID sheet.
In other words, the native one is modest and rather dull. The non-native Giant Hogweed, when flowering, is enormous and a great nuisance.
Giant Hogweed is invasive and very competitive with native species. There has been a largely-successful programme of eradication in the Tweed catchment.
However, plants do still appear, so if Giant Hogweed is found, please report an accurate location to Tweed Forum (www.tweedforum.org.uk; phone 01896 849723).
And if you are concerned about any hogweed, please try to contact the landowner first rather than take your own action.
Not very progressive
So “Scotland’s voice is being heard at Westminster” (Southern editorial, July 16) – and what a whingeing, embarrassing and scrounging voice it is.
The national socialist MPs who claim to speak for Scotland spend most of their time running Scotland down, saying how bad things are here, how wicked Chancellor George Osborne is and how good the SNP is. “Progressive” is the new word the party’s propaganda department requires them to parrot.
The fact that Mr Osborne has turned Britain from an economic disaster to the fastest-growing economy in Europe eludes them. Anyone can spend taxpayers’ money – not everyone can balance the books. If the SNP ran our economy, Edinburgh would soon really become the new Athens of the North.
And the fact that SNP policies are the opposite of progressive speaks for itself. State spying on parents through the named-person scheme, top-down policing out of democratic control, a target culture in every aspect of public life, centralisation of public decision-making, an energy policy which subsidises big landowners and foreign developers, opposition to the fight against ISIL – these are examples of the nationalists’ “progressive” policies.
The Borders is a “forgotten land”, claims new MP Calum Kerr. Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he? He could never say most Borderers are happy with their lot and want to keep things the way they are, including being part of Britain, which Mr Kerr wants to break up.
Mind you, Mr Kerr and his associates are not so opposed to Britain that they refuse to bank the more than £100,000 per annum salary and expenses each receives from the British state. A nice little earner, wouldn’t you say?
Keep SNP’s hands off BBC
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has revived her attempt to bring the BBC under Holyrood control.
Were she successful, an even greater focus on Scottish issues to the exclusion of other parts of the UK would be the result. Inevitably, political coverage would concentrate on Holyrood where the SNP holds power rather than Westminster, where it clearly does not.
As we all know, Ms Sturgeon’s driving ambition is to separate Scotland from the rest of the UK. A BBC that is parochial and inward looking would assist her objective.
Of even greater concern to those of us who support free speech is whether the SNP’s media savvy hierarchy would be able to resist hands-on meddling in news coverage.
It is imperative Westminster stands firm against Ms Sturgeon’s latest demands and ensures that we in Scotland continue to benefit from broad and diverse BBC programming, devoid of state editorial control.
Creating a shambles
I read your report of MP Calum Kerr’s maiden speech in the House of Commons with great interest.
While he is perfectly entitled to try and score points by pointing out the flaws in the UK “convergence” debacle, he seems to have conveniently forgotten that the biggest issue facing Scottish farmers is the current “greening” farce.
This time last year Richard Lochhead, Scottish Cabinet secretary for rural affairs, food and the environment, gave a speech at the Border Union Show. Instead of explaining the new European agricultural “greening” policy to the audience (it had been out for weeks in England), he chose instead to hand out copies of the referendum White Paper and talk about the benefits of independence to agriculture.
Looking back, it was obvious that the Scottish Government’s mind was clearly focused elsewhere for most of last summer, as its interpretation of the European policy wasn’t released until October.
In short, it was published so late that it explained how we should have sown the crops that were already in the ground. It was so badly drafted that despite many revisions the Scottish Government still can’t answer questions on it.
The online registration system where farmers register every detail of activity on their land is unfit for purpose – that’s if it was working at all. Those at the Scottish Government office in Galashiels have done their very best to help, but they have been treated just as badly by their masters in Edinburgh.
On the eve of this year’s “Border Union”, I would like to ask that if anyone encounters a politician at the show (of any denomination), could they please point out to them that it’s not just UK ministers who are capable of being “comatose in the corner”. Apparently, their Scottish counterparts are more than capable of creating a shambles all on their own.
J. J. Prentice
Benefits of membership
The record results from Scottish Development International, which show an increase in both projects and jobs created or safeguarded in Scotland through inward investment, highlights the considerable benefits of our continued membership of the European Union.
This also reinforces the findings of the Ernst & Young Attractiveness Survey, published earlier this year, which named Scotland as the most attractive place in the UK to invest outside London.
More than 2,000 companies already call Scotland home and many of these are coming here, in part, to access the considerable advantages being part of the EU Single Market – the largest in the world and amounting to more than 500 million people – brings.
With nearly half of Scotland’s international exports to the EU and with over 300,000 jobs dependent on such exports, it would be folly for us to remove ourselves from the EU and the many clear advantages membership brings.
(chair, The European Movement in Scotland)
Refugees need compassion
Carola Godman Irvine (“Pressures are arising from overcrowding”, Southern, July 16) demonstrates an unfortunate lack of knowledge about or understanding of the current immigration problem that we in the UK and the whole of Europe are facing.
Thousands of people are fleeing Syria, Somalia, Iraq and elsewhere because of the total collapse of civil society in their home countries.
They are not fleeing because they want a holiday, they are leaving their homes because to stay means risking torture or death. Not because they have done anything wrong, they may just live in the “wrong” area or worship the “wrong God”. They are making long and arduous journeys few of us could envisage.
Of course there may be some opportunists among the refugees, but that does not detract from the fact that most are genuine refugees who need our compassion and help.
Ms Irvine should perhaps remind herself of Britain’s involvement in the history of the Middle East over the last 100-plus years, culminating in the Iraq war. For that alone, if nothing else, we have a responsibility to help.
Rallying round at Kelso
We thought it would be a good idea for some of the Jim Clark Rally organising team to come along and meet the public at this year’s Border Union Show in Kelso on July 24 and 25.
They will be on the Border Eccose CC stand to answer any questions the public may have, and willing to advise anyone interested in getting involved in any type of motorsport – from karting , rallying to F1.
Jim Clark Rally)
New members wanted
The British Element Trieste Force Association was formed in 2004 for those ex-servicemen who served in the Free Territory of Trieste from 1945 to 1954.
Although our average age is now 85, we are still hoping to recruit new members.
There are opportunities to meet old colleagues through the quarterly magazine and association website.
Trips to Trieste have been arranged and area meetings are held in various parts of the country. AGMs are also held at different locations – the next being near Lichfield in March 2016. A visit to the National Memorial Arboretum is planned to coincide with the eighth anniversary of reforming the association in its present form.
If you are interested in knowing more about the association, please get in touch with me by telephone on 01665 589289, by email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to me at Suilven, Ellingham, Chathill, Northumberland NE67 5HA.
Much bluster and hot air
The Tory general election manifesto promised to end wind farm subsidies by April 2017.
UK energy secretary Amber Rudd announced on June 18 that subsidies would stop in April 2016 – a year earlier than promised.
During First Minister’s Questions, Nicola Sturgeon called this decision “wrong-headed, perverse and downright outrageous”.
Energy minister Fergus Ewing warned the UK Government “this decision may well be the subject of a judicial review”.
So much bluster and hot air from them both since on June 21 Mr Ewing revealed that the Scottish Government would not take legal action on this issue.
With ministers like them no wonder Scotland’s energy security is in a hazardous situation.
If every child from birth to the age of 18 is to have a named person to oversee their upbringing, how many are going to be needed?
How many children will be allocated to each one?
In their early years children will not be aware of such people, so will named persons be permitted to enter homes to establish that they are being, in their view, brought up as the state requires?
It occurs to me that the biggest question of all is who will vet these named people to ensure they are fit to hold such positions.
William W. Scott
St Baldred’s Road
Charity needs your clothes
We are urging Borderers to clear their closets of unwanted clothes and donate them to help treat sick and injured pets.
PDSA’s charity shop at 64 Channel Street, Galashiels, is on the hunt for ladies’, men’s and children’s clothing to sell in store to raise money for pets in need.
Charity shops are famous for their quality and bargain clothing, and as a result we sell hundreds of items every week. We rely on our supporters to help us replenish our stocks so we can continue to raise much-needed funds for sick and injured pets.
So if you are guilty of hoarding clothes that you hardly ever wear, why not make some space in your closet for some new threads and help PDSA in the process?
For more information about the Galashiels PDSA shop, please contact me on 01896 759881. For more information about PDSA, please visit www.pdsa.org.uk
The committee would like to thank everyone who supported them at their coffee afternoon at the end of June.
We raised the wonderful sum of just over £2,000 which will be used to provide some of the extra activities, regular outings and musical entertainments which are so important to the residents.
The Friends of Queen’s House
I would like to thank the following people and organisations for making my job as chief foot steward of Kelso Civic Week much easier:
Lloyds Landrover Kelso for the use of its vehicle, Lloyds Tractors Kelso for the use of its quad bike, the two lads for parking cars at The Haugh, Yetholm, and Stevie, Jamie and Derek for their help, and all others who assisted me.