Some balance to debate
Much of the debate about the current EU renegotiation by Prime Minister David Cameron has focused on restricting access to benefits for those from other European Union countries coming to the UK.
Some perspective is needed on this. What tends to be forgotten is that there are 2.2million UK citizens living and working in the rest of the EU with, for example, just over a million British people living in Spain and 329,000 in Ireland.
Indeed, unemployed Britons in the EU are drawing much more in benefits and allowances in wealthier EU countries than their nationals are claiming in the UK. For example, four times as many Britons obtain unemployment benefits in Germany as Germans do in the UK, while the number of jobless Britons receiving benefits in Ireland exceeds their Irish counterparts in the UK by a rate of five to one.
Contrary to popular perceptions, the figures for nationals of those 10 east European countries drawing Jobseeker’s Allowance in the UK remain modest, despite the periodical outcries about “benefits tourism”. There are only about 1,000 Romanians and 500 Bulgarians, for example, drawing Jobseeker’s Allowance in Britain, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.
Of those EU migrants living here, a mere 1.2% are not economically active, amounting to a miniscule number. According to University College London, between 2001 and 2011 EU migrants made an estimated positive net contribution of £20billion to the UK economy as they tend to be younger and more economically-active than our own workforce, paying more in taxes and receiving less in benefits.
Those from the EU who have made the UK their home make an overwhelmingly positive contribution economically, socially and culturally, and it is good to sometimes highlight the facts as well as remembering those UK citizens who currently live in other EU countries.
The European Movement in Scotland
Germany’s “refugee” policies are destabilising that country and the rest of Europe.
A police report warned that the influx of 1million immigrants was effectively importing 100,000 criminals to Germany. How many terrorists?
Males from the Middle East and North Africa are from a culture which believes women are inferior and that Western women are “fair game” for their perverted attentions. So far 652 complaints of sexual attacks, including children, have been received by the German police. Similar attacks occurred in Austria, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
The backlash has started with demands that Germany close its borders, deport bogus asylum seekers and that Angela Merkel, the architect of this destructive tsunami, resigns.
The demise of “open borders” and establishing Fortress Europe is essential for Western civilisation.
Earlier this month I met an old pal who I had not spoken to for 20 years.
We eventually got around to politics and to my surprise he was a staunch SNP supporter.
He kept referring to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as if she was a good friend, but did not like her policies. He agreed that education, health and transport – completely under the control of Holyrood – were a disaster.
When I pointed out he did not like what the SNP were doing in office, he said but we have to rule ourselves.
So I said to him he must believe that a run-down Scotland controlled by the SNP would be better than the high standards we have as part of the UK where we Scots are, like-for-like, better off than the English. He agreed.
This is why SNP voters keep supporting an unsuccessful SNP government that has seen our living standards drop while it has been in charge.
They have the fixation that it would be better to live in poverty under the SNP than be part of a thriving UK.
If we knew being part of the EU, although we have no freedom of choice and no longer rule ourselves, would increase our living standards, we would probably not be trying to leave.
The SNP support our membership of the EU, yet is against being part of a successful Britain that for over 300 years has seen Scottish people prosper beyond our wildest dreams. It should be a no-brainer to stay in the United Kingdom and leave the European Union of the Regions and Cities.
Eric R. S. Davidson
Not delivering the goods
Having read Jonah Gaskell’s letter (Southern, January 14), I can confirm that he is not alone in his experience with courier firm Hermes.
Over Christmas, Hermes returned three parcels I had ordered from Next. I tried to get the items re-sent, but discovered that some of them were no longer available because once they reached the warehouse, they were then sold on.
Determined to do some of my Christmas shopping online, I re-ordered similar items from Next and requested them to use another courier. I was disappointed to find they used Hermes again, and again Hermes refused to deliver them. The reason given by Hermes was “inaccessible track”.
Although we live two minutes up a well-maintained forestry track, we have never had any problems with other delivery companies.
I took the matter up again with Next, and they admitted that the service provided by Hermes was “unacceptable”. However, they did not agree to stop using Hermes.
Finally, after many phone calls and emails, they agreed to compensate me with a number of Next gift vouchers. They also suggested that for three months they could put my account on postal delivery or I could agree to having my parcels left at the end of the track in one of my (or my neighbours) rubbish bins!
Guess what? I won’t be ordering from Next again.
But that is not the end of the saga.
I recently placed an order with Dunelm Mill, and on the “delivery instructions” I put “do not use Hermes”.
I have recently discovered that it has been despatched with Hermes, and I very much doubt that it will arrive.
I assume that Hermes is “cherry-picking” the town deliveries, but cannot be bothered to expend the time and fuel to deliver to rural communities, especially if you are slightly off a tarmac road.
If you have a similar experience, write to the relevant supplier, asking them to stop using Hermes, as there are other good delivery firms who are prepared to deliver to rural communities.
Appreciating vital work
I was amazed to read that Councillor Graham Garvie said: “I don’t understand what the Scottish Water authority is – it looks like they do nothing other than supply drinking water” (Southern, January 21).
If the councillor looked at his council tax and water services bill, he might notice the water and wastewater charges made on behalf of Scottish Water. A leaflet from Scottish Water accompanies the bill and it gives basic information about what they do, including “maintain and are improving over 1,800 wastewater treatment works and 31,064 miles of sewer to help protect the natural environment”.
The leaflet also gives some guidance on what not to flush down your sink or toilet.
Hopefully, the next time Councillor Garvie uses his sink or toilet (etc.) he will appreciate the vital work that Scottish Water does in treating his wastewaters.
Westruther race night
The Rob Wilson race night on January 16 at Westruther Village Hall was a great success and we are delighted to say that we were able to hand over the grand sum of £10,000.
We know this will help immensely with all the requirements to get Rob home permanently again.
Many thanks to everyone who sponsored or came along for their kind generosity.
BGH – just what the GP ordered
Come on, give the NHS the respect it requires – and needs.
All we ever hear about it is negative. We have one of, if not the best, health services in the world.
I had a terrible pain and after suffering it for two months was persuaded by family and my GP to go to hospital. The pain has now gone, and reasons for it are being looked into.
But I must say that the Borders General Hospital staff could not be bettered – from the cleaners to the consultants. They were all very professional, caring and considerate. The kindness shown to me was like additional medicine – the nurses like angels in disguise.
Mind, I was not too sure about being given a shave by a nurse who was an ex-Hawick rugby player, with my Gala jersey lying on the bed and me an ex-Gala player. Thank goodness it was a safety razor! Thanks, Alan.
Of course, mistakes happen, and some people don’t manage the standards set by so many. But we are not all perfect.
One thing – not exactly a complaint – but the discharge system could do with a rethink. I know that the hospital is desperate to free up beds as soon as possible, but this system could be better.
Frank C. Entwistle
Lamppost work lingers on
For most of 2015 – 34 traffic cones, six road signs, 12 sandbags and a narrowing of the road by Brigend Park, Kelso, on the A699.
All for a damaged lamppost.
Does Scottish Borders Council have any imminent plans to address the problem and move on in 2016?