Your picture of the week
Dougie Methven bagged this picture of mallard ducks having a final feed on The Cobby at Kelso before the sun sets.Please email photographs, with a brief caption, to [email protected]
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
TACKLING RUGBY CLUB EXPANSION
I am increasingly worried that the plans of Melrose Rugby Club are becoming monstrous and encroach on the peaceful wellbeing of residents.
I congratulate the club on its new pitch and facilities, and it’s good to see so many young people enjoying different sports there. I wish the new set-up all success. But I fear that ambition for the new annual sevens is now exceeding the reasonable tolerance of residents.
Thousands of us enjoyed the traditional sevens and were proud of the historic pedigree.
However, it seems that the club management now wants to create an international event that is not at all suitable to our small and beautiful town centre. Plans for two weeks of road closures will cause major disruption for residents. The totally inadequate parking already creates unsafe situations on normal match days with fans parking on St Mary’s Road pavements, forcing pedestrians into the road and damaging house entrances.
I hate the idea of a four-day drinking spree. It will be like a Scottish version of Magaluf.
Our council should insist that if the club wants to grow into a global one, then it finds land on the outskirts for the construction of a permanent stadium like Galashiels with adequate year-round safe parking and not create increasingly-dangerous havoc in our town centre.
By the way, I have had no communications at all from the club about its plans which will have a serious impact on residents in our street.
We are very happy here in Melrose and love the town, which is why I will be lobbying councillors to oppose this expansion and refuse the necessary planning permission. I would be interested in meeting other residents who feel the same way. Dr Alan Walker
St Mary’s Road
LOCAL INGREDIENT TO SAVE INDUSTRY
Cow and sheep numbers in Scotland are falling as farmers lose money on every animal sold.
Meanwhile the BBC anti-meat campaign is tarring our environmentally-friendly, grass-produced beef and lamb with mass production in other parts of the world.
In Scotland beef and lamb production is nearing crisis point. If the meat industry collapses then meat eaters will have to rely on imports from parts of the world where real damage to the environment is occurring.
To prevent this I urge your readers to buy locally-produced meat from our natural grassland with the highest welfare standards.
FLAWED STUDIES AND SCIENTISTS
Alas David White doesn’t explain his opposition to my idea that the next climate conference should be in a cold place (letters, November 21).
Instead he uses the cliché that there’s a “consensus” among climate scientists.
Well, I’m afraid that science is not a democracy, and a bunch of scientists cannot just vote on something being true. He also parrots the claim that 97% of scientists agree with man-made warming. I’m not sure if Mr White simply gets this figure from the media, but I am aware of three flawed studies that strangely all come up with this 97% figure. One included the names of well-known sceptics.
A similar study was conducted by Naiomi Oreskes. A leaked Climategate email written by a world-leading climate scientist dated November 2009 had this to say: “Analyses like these by people who don’t know their field are useless. A good example is Naomi Oreskes’ work.”
Can I suggest that Mr White does some research of his own before he puts pen to paper?
TOURISM AND MEDICINE FEARS
Scotland voted 62% to remain in the EU, with Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk constituency voting to stay at 56.74%.
However, the constituency elected John Lamont in 2017, a Conservative MP who made the decision to support Brexit being delivered, due to the UK-wide result. Generally, in parliament, John Lamont has voted against more EU integration which is directly against the wishes of the majority in his constituency.
The Borders has a predominantly older population than the rest of Scotland, with more people aged over 65 than anywhere else. As MP for a constituency within this region, John Lamont should aim to protect his constituents, but voted against making it a government objective to remain as a member of the European Medicines Regulatory Network. This will result in a risk of medicine shortages after leaving the EU.
This would be detrimental to any constituency, but particularly one with an older demographic who rely more heavily on these medicines than others.
Furthermore, in Scotland spending by European tourists rose by 21% in 2018, making the total £1.6bn, and in the Borders tourism is a key industry. For Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, having a Conservative MP delivering Brexit would negatively impact the tourism industry. This is because Brexit would take away free movement of people and easy, accessible travel that we, as European citizens, are granted within the EU. This would likely make Scotland a less desirable destination for European citizens to visit, undoubtedly harming our economy.
We in the Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk constituency deserve an MP who reflects our views and wishes, and not John Lamont who does not represent how we, or the rest of Scotland, voted in the EU referendum.
SCOTLAND - A STATE WITHIN A STATE
Richard West (letters, November 28) refers to England as the “Occupying Colonial Power”; Christine Duncan, another SNP supporter, writes that Britain is really England; James Fairgrieve, another nationalist, writes that Conservative candidates “are taking their orders from London” and a fourth SNP supporter, Eric Falconer, attacks Rachael Hamilton for “a bombastic ill-informed rant”.
What is wrong with these people?
Britain is an ancient democracy ruled by law since Magna Carta, with the fifth largest economy in the world, which has unmatched soft power, a military in the premier league, superb intelligence services, incredible research and development, a people blessed with outstanding skill, inventiveness, creativity and resolve, English as the international language, and close connections across the globe. We are all better together under the flag of the Union – a flag which has come to represent freedom, courage, integrity and trust.
Devolution has gone so far as to make Scotland a state within a state with its own government which can do as it pleases in all policy areas except foreign, defence and macro-economics.
Independence is an article of faith which ignores economic reality. That reality is that the UK dividend for Scotland is now £1,968 per man, woman and child.
SNP voters should be careful for what they wish for. Do they really wish for 10 years of super-austerity, all the freebies gone, the attempt to launch a new currency with no reserves, and custom checks at Longtown, Carter Bar and Berwick?
BREXIT AND RAIL LINE SOMERSAULTS
I imagine Borders MP John Lamont would have been particularly good at gym when he attended Kilwinning Academy.
This is the man who thought Brexit was not a good idea as it would damage both the UK and Borders economy. Borderers took his advice and, according to the Democratic Dashboard website, voted by 57% to 43% to Remain.
Now Mr Lamont’s happy refrain is “let’s get Brexit done”, despite the damage that it will undoubtedly cause to his constituents’ well being.
Then Mr Lamont was reported in the Daily Telegraph as being “forced to deny he backs Boris Johnson to replace Theresa May”, saying on Twitter that “I will not be backing Mr Johnson”. Now he trots through the lobbies as if shepherded by a well-trained Border collie, voting as instructed by Boris Johnson (aka Dominic Cummings).
Then there’s the Borders Railway. In 2010, Jeremy Purvis, then Lib Dem MSP for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale, said John Lamont and he had fought for 10 years over reopening the line to Tweedbank, Mr Lamont favouring the dualling of the A7 and broadband. Now he is a cheerleader for opening the line through to Carlisle – what he says is not what you get.
I wonder if Mr Lamont is aware that he is the Conservative candidate – his current election leaflet does not mention the Conservative party once.
Back to his prowess in the gym – it’s thought his best floor exercise was the somersault.
It’s time we had an SNP MP again, someone who knows what his principles and policies are, and will stand up for his constituents and Scotland, not do a roll-over whenever asked by his Old Etonian masters.
PRINCIPLE OF DOING WHAT HE’S TOLD
Next Thursday’s crucial general election is effectively between two candidates.
Both had two years as our MP, so comparison is relatively straightforward.
There was Calum Kerr, consistently cheery and clear in his principles, who never failed to identify and fight for constituency interests.
Then we got John Lamont, who since 2017 has defied medical science, twisting and contorting to reverse position on one key issue after another, guided only by the principle of doing what he’s told.
Boris Johnson demands unquestioning loyalty to his awful Brexit “deal”, and John Lamont is the man to give it. This “deal” gives Northern Ireland goods direct access to the EU single market, gifting significant economic advantages to Northern Ireland at the expense of Scotland, particularly those of us in the south.
The Scottish Government sought a similar arrangement for remain-voting Scotland, but this was contemptuously dismissed by Mr Lamont and his Tory associates at Westminster. Instead, he backs a deal which can bring nothing but harm to his own constituents. Johnson even abandoned Theresa May’s promise to stick to EU norms of quality assurance, opening the British market to floods of sub-standard US agricultural produce which will undercut and overwhelm rural areas like ours, severely reducing the quality of the food we eat.
Boris Johnson is a blustering, cowardly bully, a symbol of the complete degradation of British politics.
His blundering stupidity in the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s imprisonment in Iran was disgraceful.
If the Tories are returned with a majority, he will govern for the next five years.
Will Johnson sell out our NHS?
Of course he will.
Having recently described anxieties about climate change as a “primitive fear”, his leadership campaign was boosted by £25,000 from a director of the Global Warming Foundation, a leading climate denial body.
We cannot afford Boris Johnson or John Lamont and his infuriating servility.
NOT A VOTE FOR INDEPENDENCE
I am puzzled by John Lamont’s primary claim in his campaign email that a vote for him in this month’s election is one against Scottish independence – this is a Westminster parliamentary election, not an independence referendum.
A vote for the SNP candidate next week is not a vote for independence, but a vote for a representative in the Commons who will stand against Tory social and economic policies that have resulted in record numbers of people living in serious poverty; who will stand against a Brexit deal that the Tories admit will leave all of us (apart from those already very rich) far worse off, without food and medical supplies – and lead to years of trade negotiations with both the EU and other countries; and who will stand against the Tories’ avowed intention to sell off the NHS to US drug companies.
How we vote in this election makes no difference to Scottish independence, but it could make a huge difference to the rest of our lives.
ELECTION A MATTER OF WHO YOU TRUST
This month’s election is about hospitals, schools, tree planting, security, local issues, Scottish independence, inequality, climate change, Brexit, jobs, WASPI fairness, the economy, trade deals with the USA, etc, etc.
Oh no, it’s not.
This is an election all about trust.
Every one of the topics listed are important.
Some are important to all of us – such as the local health service – and some quite rightly are important to us personally if, for instance, you are a woman missing out because of sudden changes in the pension rules.
However, if you can’t trust what a politician says or what they believe in, then what’s the point in supporting them?
We know it’s coming from the top with a Prime Minister who lost a previous job in journalism for telling lies and whose subsequent record on “economies with the truth” and fulfilling “die-in-a-ditch” promises seem to go with the territory.
While it would be wrong at local level to accuse prospective Conservative candidate David Mundell of emulating his boss, trust can be broken in other ways.
In 2016 Mr Mundell publicly stated that Brexit would be disastrous for Scotland, but in his campaign leaflets he now urges us all to support Brexit.
He said he would resign rather than work for Boris Johnson. Isn’t that what you are asking us, the voters, to support you to do, Mr Mundell?
Every one of us has a right to vote for any candidate, even if, like Mr Mundell, their main message seems to be to deprive voters of the right to decide our own future in Scotland. Note, this is not to say whether we want to be independent or not; rightly we can have views either for or against independence.
The message in Mr Mundell’s literature, however, is that we have no right to vote for or against the future direction of our country.
So, ultimately it’s all down to trust.
We have to vote, that’s our democratic right.
The decision we all ultimately make has to be based primarily on trust.
LIB DEMS MAY LET IN THE SNP
When the SNP last represented the Borders this was achieved due to the fact that the Liberal Democrats, unlike the rest of the United Kingdom, stayed loyal to their popular MP, Michael Moore.
This meant that they and the Conservatives both had a large proportion of the vote, but enabled the SNP to poll slightly more.
Realising that their loyalty had inadvertently boosted the SNP’s never-ending obsession for another independence referendum, the Lib Dems voted tactically in 2017 to give John Lamont a large majority and ensure the Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk constituency was not represented by someone who wanted to break-up the UK.
But with regard to the December 12 election, a similar scenario may emerge in that the SNP vote will remain the same, as independence is their only objective.
But some Liberal Democrats who support staying in the European Union may vote Lib Dem again in a show of support for overturning the Brexit vote.
Unfortunately, if this happens, by default we could again have an SNP MP and encourage Nicola Sturgeon to once again state she speaks for the whole of Scotland.
Mr G. Holford
MY SON AND TOWN DESERVE BETTER
Nothing could have prepared my family for the sudden and unexpected death of my son, Kevin.
At 21, he was taken far too soon.
We have drawn strength throughout this difficult time from friends and the community of Coldstream, and wish to extend heartfelt thanks to everyone for their support.
No father expects to bury his son, so when faced with that heart-breaking prospect, I was distressed to learn that only three lairs were available at Lennel cemetery, none of them a suitable place for me to lay him to rest.
My son deserved better. That meant burying Kevin at Birgham rather than in his home town.
Since his funeral a fortnight ago, a planning application has been submitted for a new cemetery in Coldstream.
I now understand that negotiations have been ongoing for a number of years, but coming up with a plan now is too little, too late.
It has been widely known that Lennel cemetery was nearing capacity.
Something should have been agreed and decided much earlier to address this problem.
Kevin and the community of Coldstream deserve better.
Court House Place
STEPPING UP TO TAKE ON ARTHRITIS
Our grateful thanks to all who supported the Scottish Borders Versus Arthritis branch and attended the meeting on a very wet Tuesday afternoon at Melrose Parish Church Hall.
Liz Brodie spoke about her 500-mile walk on the pilgrims’ route – Camino de Santiago.
The afternoon, which finished with tea, resulted in £183 being added to the very generous sponsorship of £6,711 which Liz raised through her 35-day walk to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compestella in Spain in the spring.