Your picture of the week

A ruined windmill and Peniel Heugh monument against a Cheviot Hills backdrop are captured by Curtis Welsh on a frosty morning prior to sunrise.Please email photographs, with a brief caption, to [email protected]

Thursday, 26th March 2020, 4:13 pm
A ruined windmill and Peniel Heugh monument against a backdrop of the Cheviot Hills are captured on a frosty morning prior to sunrise

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

WORK TOGETHER TO HELP SMALL STORES

There are not too many bright spots on the horizon at the moment, but I believe there is an opportunity for the community to work together to help our small stores.

Many are selfishly flooding the supermarkets and clearing the shelves for their own miserable ends, whereas others are finding that the small food shops who don’t have huge stocks are just plugging away and everyone is being sensible and buying what they need.

The supermarkets will survive and rub their hands gleefully at their increased profits.

We should have a local promotion of our small retailers and give them our total support. They are of the local towns and we can keep them in business by spending our money with them to help them through this crisis, while at the same time obtaining our basic needs in a sensible fashion.

A front-page spread in the Southern promoting this would go a long way for all concerned and I hope you can produce a format to emphasise this.

P Bowyer

Kelso

NICOLA AND NURSING NUMBERS

“Do the right thing now and think of others,” says First Minister Nicola Sturgeon talking about coronavirus.

This is the same person who cancelled 2,000 nurse training courses, deeming them as “not necessary”.

Paul Singleton

Gordon

SAFEGUARD FUTURE OF RENTAL ECONOMY

We are living through a crisis which is unprecedented in modern times.

The COVID-19 outbreak is first and foremost a tragedy in terms of loss of life, and our thoughts are with the relatives of those who have been impacted by it.

As chair of the UK Short Term Accommodation Association (STAA) and CEO of a tourism and hospitality business, I am in the front line of the COVID-19 economic crisis and seeing with my own eyes the potentially permanent damage that is being caused. It is bordering on catastrophic.

There are business owners facing massive reductions in revenue; they have employees who are desperately worried about their jobs; suppliers whose work has dried up overnight, and there are hosts who are looking at valuable income they earn from renting out their properties or rooms on a short-term basis, often to support paying their mortgage, completely disappearing. The knock-on effects on the UK economy cannot be underestimated – tens of thousands of people up and down the country are dependent on the short-term economy for their livelihoods.

I am extremely worried about the long-term implications for the travel and hospitality industry if our Government doesn’t implement the right policies in a matter of days.

What is literally keeping me awake - it’s 4am as I write this - is the compounding effect of the decisions that company owners will have to make in the coming days. I personally know of business owners in other sectors that have had to let go 50% of their workforce overnight to ensure they don’t go under.

I know senior business leaders who have been in tears because their partners have already lost their contracts and they are worried about taking care of their family if they were also to lose their job.

All the business owners in this sector want to do the best we can to protect our greatest assets – our people - but the industry is looking at months ahead with an estimated 80% reduction in revenue.

If companies like Marriott are putting 10,000 workers on unpaid leave, imagine what this means for smaller companies who have less cushion to rely on.

We need government help now on three core issues: Safeguarding jobs - The biggest risk to the economy is a ‘death spiral’ of unemployment where companies let staff go because they can’t afford to keep them. These staff won’t easily be hired elsewhere, depressing spending in the economy. That’s why it’s important to work on solutions that keep people employed. Failure to do so could put intolerable pressure upon already-stretched Government resources in the shape of additional benefits payments and will inhibit businesses from being able to service any remaining demand, thereby condemning them to closure.

Maintaining cashflow for travel companies - Almost all guests are cancelling bookings, often because they are unable to travel to the UK. It means that short-term rental businesses and the broader travel and hospitality sector are required to issue refunds, draining the businesses of cash.

The demand depression caused by the COVID-19 outbreak means that businesses have no guaranteed income for the near future. Even if they can survive the initial shock of cancellations, they may struggle for viability in the longer-term due to reduced bookings.

Grants not loans for the hospitality sector - Whilst we welcome the Chancellor’s timely intervention in this crisis and the enormous level of financial support for businesses, much of this support has come in the form of loans. Uunfortunately, loans won’t solve the crisis.

Loans are a short-term solution that simply impose a cost on businesses at some point in the future.

The ultimate effect of loans could be to simply delay businesses being forced to close, rather than to prevent it. This risks causing a double-dip, as business exit the market once the emergency period has passed.

If the government provides direct and timely support during this extreme demand shock, then hospitality businesses will be able to stand alone once times return to normal. If the government fails to support them now, by the time the emergency passes there won’t be much of a hospitality sector left.

Decisive action taken now in these three areas to protect jobs, businesses and industries will determine how deep and long the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis will be.

‘Keep calm and carry on’ is Britain’s motto in times of crisis. If the UK Government can help us all do that, we can ensure that we will survive this current crisis and be ready to help the economy to come out the other side.

Merilee Karr

(chair, UK Short Term Accommodation Association and CEO of UnderTheDoormat)

arthritis charity

CALLING A HALT ON ACTIVITIES

It is with great regret that, along with all other charities, our activities have had to come to a stop.

The coffee morning (April 4), a Tesco collection and plant sale have all had to be postponed. The newly-formed support group meetings are also on hold.

However, through your columns, we would like to thank all those who have supported the many and varied activities of Scottish Borders Versus Arthritis (formerly Arthritis Research UK – Melrose branch) throughout the years. We will be back and look forward to seeing you all once normal activities resume.

In the meantime, we hope you all keep safe and well.

Joanna Smith

(branch chairman)

THE ENGLISH GAME?

It is intriguing to note a superb new series on Netflix called ‘The English Game’ which focuses on two footballers during the late 1800s.

Arthur Kinnaird, a player for Old Etonians, son of a Scot, and Fergus Suter, a Scot who turned out for Darwen/Blackburn, played a major role in the transformation of football from gentleman’s pastime to professionalism.

However, it is surprising to note that this series is being called ‘The English Game’ when it should be ‘The Scottish Game’.

It was the Scots who truly devised the modern version of the game as we know it. Without Scotland’s civilising intervention, what England might have given the world was just another version of rugby.

When the so-called Football Association was formed at the instigation of a young solicitor from Hull, Ebenezer Morley, what he proposed would be seen now as a basis for rugby with extra violence.

Morley’s draft laws provided that a player could not only run with the ball in his hands, but that opponents could stop him by charging, holding, tripping or hacking. A more civilised code did emerge, but the English game was still mainly a question of head-down dribbling.

It was the Scots who had the notion of artfully distributing the ball among the players. It started with young men, from Perthshire and the Highlands mainly, who gathered at Queen’s Park in Glasgow in 1867. They obtained a copy of the FA laws and amended them to conform with an almost scientific blend of dribbling and passing. When they invented passing, these men had invented football.

Far from being an English game, it was one that was conceived to confound the English because the Scots, being generally smaller than their opponents in football’s oldest international rivalry, could hardly afford to take them on physically.

Alex Orr

Marchmont Road

Edinburgh

FOSSIL-FUEL INDUSTRY FUNDING

Understandably, the media is currently dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Other major issues continue to evolve, however, and remain crucially important.

Last weekend an investigation into the Heartland Institute, a climate-change denying body based in the United States, was published by fact-checking body The Ferret. The Heartland Institute, like so much of the “climate-sceptic” business, has been heavily funded by the fossil-fuel industry. In 2015 it made its list of donors secret, and currently hides their names behind an anonymous “Donors’ Trust”.

The purpose of this institute is to push the interests of their donors through glossy websites and the production of pseudo-scientific articles and papers to try to undermine the overwhelming consensus among world scientists that human-influenced climate change is an urgent and compelling reality, demanding effective action now.

Those who recall the tobacco industry’s efforts to undermine the campaigns to restrict the damage done by its noxious products will understand the total absence of morality and truthfulness which occurs when big business sets out to preserve profit over public health. Unfortunately, these perverse campaigns never seem to lack proponents bombarding the media as loudly as they can to give the impression that their views are much more widely supported than they actually are. One of the latest climate-sceptic stratagems is the attempted rebranding of themselves as “realists” and the rest of the world “alarmists” – a piece of fatuous nonsense faithfully repeated by one writer to the Southern last week.

Speaking up against a consensus is no bad thing in itself, indeed many of the great breakthroughs of history would not have happened had the consensus of the day not been challenged. However, the actions of a principled maverick needs to be distinguished from those of shadowy bodies funded by dishonest profiteers putting out misinformation to undermine good work.

We as readers need to bear this in mind when assessing the value of the “facts” they present.

Eric Falconer

High Road

Galashiels

NOT SUSPICIOUS, BUT INTERESTED

It was interesting to see letters from Geoff Moore all the way up in Alness, Highland, and Charles Wardrop, from Perth, in the March 12 edition of the Southern, which I’m sure we all accept is basically a Borders publication.

They wrote in support of Clark Cross, who writes from Linlithgow on a regular basis and in fact had a letter published in the same edition.

I make no comment on what they say – everyone is entiled to their opinion.

What I would say is perhaps someone with a suspicious mind may think the three gentlemen know each other. Some may even think they belonged to the same group or organisation. Some may wonder what the aims are of that group or organisation, and why there seems to be a concerted effort to get their views accross.

It’s a good job I don’t have a suspicious mind and purely find it interesting.

David Laing

West High Street

Lauder

INFINITESIMAL IN WORLD TERMS

The letter from Jack Saunders which you published last week has appeared in several newspapers.

Salix Finance provides interest-free government funding to the public sector.Its website boasts that 17,799 projects have been funded with loans of £842m, but of course it is council tax payers who fund this.

The real laugh is that Salix claims annual carbon savings of 821,583 tonnes of CO2. This is infinitesimal in world terms.

Whilst Scotland and the UK strive to reach net zero emissions in three decades at a cost of £3trillion, that is £100,000 per household, the rest of the world are building coal-fired power plants and driving 1.2bn vehicles – 2bn by 2035.

Mr Saunders, in his green bubble, thinks Salix Finance can save the planet. The money for his green dream of 100% of electricity from renewables and the other soundbites in his letter come from the public.

Will Jack Saunders play his part and pledge in the Southern Reporter – to help reduce the UK’s 1.13% share of global emissions – never to own, drive or travel in a fossil fuel vehicle, turn off his gas supply and not buy goods from China?

Clark Cross

Springfield Road

Linlithgow

ELECTRICITY GENERATION

Anything Jack Saunders says should be taken with a pinch of salt seeing as his salary at Salix Finance depends on government putting taxpayers’ money into the war on carbon (letters, March 19).

He claims that Scotland is on track to generate 100% of its electricity demand from renewables by the end of the year. Wrong, Scotland will never achieve this because at times wind speeds across the country are too low at the same time as solar energy being non-existent, like on Christmas Day 2019.

He says Scotland is ahead of the curve on emissions reduction, but how much of that is because its former heavy industry has moved abroad, and because it now needs to import fossil fuel-based electricity from England?

He claims climate targets are on many people’s minds. Has he not heard of coronavirus?

He promotes “energy efficiency”. Well, I recently read the recommended measures on a home report and the payback time on floor insulation was 156 years. For solar water heating it was 174 years and for solar PV it’s 15 years.

But aren’t the climate alarmists saying that civilisation is going to end in 10 years?

Geoff Moore

Alness

Highland

SHOW IS CASTING FOR FAMILIES

An exciting TV opportunity has come up for all you couples out there who are yet to meet your partner’s family. Are you in the relationship and it’s time to meet the family? Or perhaps they are ready to meet yours? Or is it your family that are pressing to meet that special person in your life?

BBC Studios are casting for a brand new show all about relationships and families and they’d love to hear from you….

This is a fun and heart-warming production that will follow a couple in a romantic relationship as they introduce their partner to their family for the first time whilst cooking and all getting to know each other around the dinner table.

The production will also treat the successful couple and their family to a high-end dinner at a luxury restaurant. If you’d love to be considered by the casting team this is your chance to get in touch! Email: [email protected] or WhatsApp/Text: 07711 913 199.

The production team want to let you know that with the current situation, meeting and filming will not be taking place yet but the team are still keen to hear from those interested ready for when the filming will take place in the foreseeable future.

Abbey Kaye

(casting researcher)