Decision a foregone conclusion

So much for democracy. The sighting of the Great Tapestry of Scotland in a new and expensive building at Tweedbank has caused much heated and heartfelt debate over recent weeks – yet only four members (not even 50%) of the council’s planning committee bothered to turn up for such an important vote.

This shows a lack of respect for the people the councilors are elected to represent.

As Lintie Gibson pointed out (letters, October 8), posters strategically placed in Galashiels Transport Interchange and at Edinburgh’s Waverley Station, proclaiming that the tapestry will be in the Borders from 2017, made it a forgone conclusion.

What is the point of us expressing well-researched and expressed objections if the decision is already made?

It is about time the council listened to the people it represents, rather than outsiders looking for an opportunity at our expense.

If the tapestry trustees are so concerned about its safety that nowhere other than Tweedbank will do, they would have demanded more security in Kirkcaldy where a section of it was stolen during its recent exhibition there.

Surely they could now be persuaded to house it elsewhere in the Borders – what about the top two floors of the Interchange which are standing empty? It would surely give visitors to Galashiels something to look at other than empty shops.

A textile heritage centre, which is what Gala was built on, would also have been good had not the mill buildings been demolished to make way for various retail parks and the one remaining working one relocated to Selkirk which is not on the rail line.

Thousands of people have already seen the tapestry free of charge at various venues across the country – who is going to pay £10 to see it at Tweedbank?

Of course if the building has a public toilet this might be worth the entry fee to some desperate travellers as there is not one at

the station.

Mary Douglas




Shocking priority case

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that Scotland will take in even more refugees than the 2,000 every year she originally indicated.

Our NHS, schools and social housing are already under intense pressure.

Scotland has an acute housing shortage and needs at least 12,000 new affordable homes every year for five years since thousands of children and their parents are living in temporary accommodation across Scotland. There are now 4,896 children without a permanent roof over their heads.

It is shocking that “refugees” will get priority over them.

Perhaps Ms Sturgeon plans to instruct all her 56, sorry 55, MPs and 64 MSPs to share their homes with young men or a family of refugees, ensuring no costs are sneaked through as political expenses.

I nearly forgot, how many refugees did Nicola say she would accommodate?

Clark Cross





For many years now I have believed in Scottish independence. 

A strong government in Edinburgh looking after the people and land, rather than distant English governments who seem to think the UK still rules the waves and are prepared to use military power to topple regimes.

The Scottish Government has awarded a £350million water contract to a private English company – a saving of £40million to the taxpayer. This contract had be awarded under EU laws.

I hope that no Scottish workers are made unemployed because of this and I will certainly not be voting Yes to stay in the European Union.

As for the £40million, will this change the bedroom tax or one foodbank.

R. L. Simpson

Halliburton Place



Customer not satisfied

I have made my first journey by train from Tweedbank to Edinburgh.

Tweedbank is quite a bleak station with no passenger facilities other than a ticket machine (not operating) and a draughty shelter. It was quite a chilly morning and the long wait for the train to arrive (the one I planned to catch was cancelled due to a breakdown) was not particularly pleasant.

The two-coach train was packed to capacity as, in effect, two trainloads were now being transported by one train. Some passengers joining the train at Galashiels had to stand for the duration of the journey to Edinburgh.

What really puzzles me is why, at Tweedbank, is there a large car park and no passenger facilities (what looked like a waiting room turned out to be a building for railway staff), whereas at Galashiels there are excellent passenger facilities and no car park.

This line has great potential but, to achieve this, the railway authorities will quickly have to improve the service. Customer satisfaction is paramount for this to be a success.

Joy D. F. Williamson

Pinnaclehill Park



Supporting the English

I was in St James’ Park, Newcastle, for Scotland’s rugby match against South Africa and spoke to several Englishmen supporting Scotland.

I know some Scots who will support anyone playing against England – we mustn’t.

We all love to support the underdog. Some of us Scots love to support anyone playing England because Scotland is England’s underdog (38,500 registered rugby players compared to 2 million).

The Scots and English should stick together through thick and thin, be it rugby, football, any sport, anything.

I have great sympathy for our neighbours being knocked out early from the Rugby World Cup’s toughest group.

Will Ramsay



named person

Scheme should be scrapped

The future of the SNP’s flagship Named Person Scheme is called into question by the conviction at Elgin Sheriff Court of a “named person”.

Dayna Dickson-Boath, a secondary school teacher and named person, has been placed on the Sex Offenders Register.

The Named Person Scheme mandates a “named person” to oversee the upbringing and wellbeing of each child in Scotland from before birth until they are 18 years old. The scheme presupposes that every “named person” can be trusted with the confidential information of our children and the power to initiate interventions into our families.

This fundamental assumption is now demonstrated to be false.

The scheme also assumes that no parent can be trusted to bring up their children without supervision by state officials. Common experience teaches us that this assumption is simply wrong – evolutionary theory confirms this. Also, the scandalously-poor outcomes of children “in care” demonstrate that the greater the state involvement in children’s upbringing, the worse the result.

The Named Person Scheme is not due to come fully into force until August next year, although some local authorities, including Dickson-Boath’s former employer, have already implemented it.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon should accept that this scheme has no place in a free society and lead the repeal of the enabling legislation.

Otto Inglis

Inveralmond Grove


party lists

Paul playing

it safe

To their credit, Borders MSPs Christine Grahame, SNP member for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, and John Lamont, Conservative member for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire (ERB), have declined to go onto their respective parties’ lists for the South of Scotland region which stretches from Dunbar to Ayr.

They are standing by their own constituents and rejecting the security of the fall-back position of being on the list.

Compare that to the stance of Paul Wheelhouse, SNP candidate for ERB, who has chosen to be on his party’s list as well. If successful there, he would have an electorate of over half a million to attend to.

Perhaps Mr Wheelhouse is more interested in his political future rather than Borders constituents.

David S. W. Williamson

Pinnaclehill Park




great folk

I write to offer our thanks to the many people who helped Newtown not only take second prize in Scottish Borders Council Floral Gateway 2015, but also win a wooden bench seat as the inaugural Quality of Life award.

Particular mention must be made of John Gordon from Whitehill who helped us with the purchase of a water bowser.

All the businesses in Newtown got behind us by sponsoring hanging baskets or providing their own, and special mention goes to Hans at the former RBS branch who really got into the spirit and sponsored five baskets.

Bob Johnston of Philiphaugh Plants did a marvellous job filling the baskets which looked wonderful all through the summer. As in previous years, we are indebted to Nigel Gibb and the horticulture students at Borders College for their help with the planters.

The judges noted that Newtown benefits from many well-tended and beautiful private gardens, so well done all you keen gardeners.

Lastly, nothing would happen without the small, but committed band of volunteers who work so hard throughout the year.

Barbara Graham

(Newtown in Bloom


Arthritis research

I would like to thank the generous people of the Borders who supported Arthritis Research UK at our sale at Borders General Hospital and the pop-up shop in Selkirk.

During that week we made over £1,400 for the vital work of this charity.

Our next event is the Borders Big Band Bash, including a fish supper, on October 23 in Melrose Corn Exchange.

Trefor Davies

(chairman, Melrose branch, Arthritis Research UK)