Your picture of the week

Barbara Greer sent us this image of a Borders landmark, Leaderfoot Viaduct.Please email photographs, with a brief caption, to [email protected]

Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 4:29 pm
Leaderfoot viaduct

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

CONSUMER RIGHTS TO SAFE ROUTES

With the region’s roads in such poor condition, Scottish Borders Council has to start getting them into an acceptable state.

Sunken manhole covers, potholes and ruts must be repaired, and these faults highlighted – as in the past – with yellow paint.

We road users pay fuel duty, road tax and council tax to use Borders roads, so we must have consumer rights to safe routes which are in good condition.

Three times now I have paid repair bills in respect of damage to my vehicle, and many hundreds have had to do the same. We have not received compensation because the council has made claiming so difficult.

Painting road defects yellow would also result in a massive sales boost for paint retailers.

Albert Cruickshank

Langlee Drive

Galashiels

ANOTHER WHO MADE HIS MARK

I refer to your article in the December 26 edition about builder George McDonald who was one of the men who put the doll’s head in the wall at St Mary’s Road, Melrose, during the 1960s.

George and his wife met my parents in Rhodesia during the early 1970s.

My father, Tommy Swinton, was also a builder and went out to Rhodesia in 1956.

He was born in Redpath and played rugby for Melrose during the early 1930s (your newspaper printed a photo of the Melrose sevens team, including Tommy, which won the Walkerburn Sports in 1932. I believe you also printed it 50 years later – around 1982).

I was the youngest of six children and was told of the diamond-shaped stone built into the wall between St Boswells and Maxton along the A699. This stone was put in the wall by my father (I believe in the early 1950s).

It seems that it was common during the 1950s and 1960s to build an object into a wall when it was being built by local builders.

Although I must have met George and his wife in Rhodesia, I don’t remember them as I had recently married. But I do remember their names as they were often mentioned when I visited my parents. I retired back to Scotland in 2014.

T. K. Swinton

Bowden

IDIOTS RE-ELECTING INEPT BUFFOONS

It appears the SNP is unable to do its sums properly, nor understand that winning most seats doesn’t mean all the people have voted for your party.

Can someone tell Nicola Sturgeon that of the people who voted in last month’s general election in Scotland, 44% voted for the SNP, but 56% voted against the SNP and for UK parties. So her demands for another once-in-a-generation independence referendum are groundless.

She has omitted to mention those who decided not to vote at all, as they believe all politicians are on the make, or intellectually bereft. In a referendum they will vote in large numbers because their vote will actually count for something.

As 14.6m voters didn’t vote in last month’s UK general election, what makes her think that those in Scotland would want to vote for her party (independence) when they already know that the SNP has proved it can’t govern Scotland as it is?

Who in their right mind would vote to have a country with no currency worth the paper it’s written on, to have their savings, pensions and salaries currently in sterling to be worth nothing overnight, to have a country so bereft of employment and tax revenue that public services could collapse? Scotland would go back to the pre-Union days of poverty – the Zimbabwe of the north.

No country is independent and in the Euro-zone you give up independence immediately – not that the EU would want a lame-duck Scotland as a member.

Why Scots vote like sheep has always depressed me. Scots don’t seem to understand what democracy is. Like a tribe of idiots, they just vote the same as they’ve always done, re-electing the same incompetent buffoons election after election – 40 years for Labour, 10-plus for SNP. The SNP is just the old Labour vote and these inept politicians rely on the mass of Scots to vote them in regardless – and they do.

Will the Borders be given a referendum to stay in the UK?

Alan Gordon

Hirsel Place

Coldstream

DIRE SITUATION FACING SCOTLAND

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that “within the next 10 years 90% of global economic growth will originate outside of the European Union”.

This could make nonsense of the Scottish government’s tired administration whining about joining the EU after Brexit, which has already been refused on two occasions due to Scotland’s 10% gross domestic product (GDP) deficit.

Solving the dire situation the country faces regarding the NHS, drug addiction, education and transport would be more appropriate in the real world.

Paul Singleton

Gordon

CALM AND STAGED EVOLUTION NEEDED

Previous correspondents to these columns have repeatedly tried to convey the message that between 70% and 80% of climate change can be attributed to a multitude of powerful natural forces as opposed to human-caused emissions.

Well-intentioned though Donald McPhillimy may be (letters, January 9), he has repeatedly contested this hard fact and maintains that remaining fossil fuel reserves should be left in the ground and that intermittent renewables and hydrogen can power the world’s industries and homes.

Is he oblivious to the plight of developing nations that aspire to better lives courtesy primarily of fossil fuels?

The astronomical sums of money being poured into mitigation of climate change would be better directed to intensive investments in some of the areas Mr McPhillimy suggests, including nuclear fusion and the wonder material graphene with the potential to revolutionise energy supplies and manufacturing processes.

What is needed is a calm and staged evolution from the fossil fuel era that will usher in a more sustainable way of life rather than ill-fated attempts to significantly alter our climate.

A curious alliance of opposing views which includes Donald McPhillimy, Clark Cross, Geoff Moore and myself was presented by Dig Currie (letters, January 16) who admonished us all for not placing our trust in divine forces. I don’t doubt Mr Currie’s sincerity for a moment and I think we can all agree that more respect must be paid to the global environment and pressures of the human population, but maybe he would like to reaquaint himself with the scriptures, Jeremia 5;21: “Hear now this foolish and senseless people, and without understanding; which have eyes but see not; which have ears but hear not.”

Indeed, in spite of all the current Davos hype, there are none so blind as those who will not see, particularly when it comes to climate alarmism.

Neil J. Bryce

Morebattle

ALL OF US HAVE A PART TO PLAY

I would never claim, as Clark Cross suggests (letters, January 16), that I and my “followers” in Greener Melrose are going to save the planet alone.

He lists some of the countries bigger in size and emissions than Scotland and Melrose. This is a nonsensical argument.

The point is that our community can play its part (a very small, but significant part) in the move to living within our means on this precious planet. We only have one. The prospects of colonising the Moon or Mars are still science fiction.

All around the world, ecological movements are making a difference. We are learning from each other about how to live sustainably and in peace with each other. We have to be optimistic that we can sort this and not give in to the pessimism of some of the other letter writers to the Southern Reporter.

The times are changing. Just last week Greener Melrose organised a talk by Robin McAlpine, of Common Weal, which more than 60 people attended. He outlined his organisation’s Green New Deal which is an actual plan for how Scotland can become carbon neutral and lead the world out of the current climate emergency.

The United Nations is holding its COP 26 summit in Glasgow at the end of the year. Scotland is punching above her weight and could create thousands of new green jobs as a result.

We all have a role to play and I think most people now agree that we must act at a personal, community and national level.

Self-important naysayers who write to this newspaper have absolutely nothing to offer and should really stop feeding their egos.

Donald McPhillimy

Leaderdale Crescent

Earlston

OLD TEMPERATURE RECORDS DOUBTS

NASA last week released a statement claiming that the last decade was the warmest in 140 years.

But scientists who are sceptical of the global warming theory have, over the years, presented evidence that the warming has been exaggerated, and that the 1930s (the Dust Bowl years) may have been warmer.

It is alleged that human bias led to early temperature records being adjusted down and later records being adjusted up, creating an apparent warming trend.

The hacked Climategate emails, where hundreds of climate scientists around the world communicated privately, may give a clue. For example, on August 12, 2009, Phil Jones wrote: “European instrumental temperatures in summer are going to be revised downwards by about 0.4 degrees C for periods before 1850.”

NASA’s statement relies on old temperature measurements being reliable, in an age before computers, automatic weather stations and methodology being homogenous worldwide. Indeed Ed Cook wrote in a Climategate email dated April 18, 2000: “I must admit to having doubts about the quality of the early instrumental records, despite the great efforts made to homogenise and correct them.”

The public ought to take these NASA statements with a pinch of salt.

Geoff Moore

Alness

Highland

REUNIONS BACK ON THE AGENDA

Regular readers of this newspaper’s letters page will recall a contribution of mine explaining the camaraderie of those who had served in the Royal Navy.

I explained that this could be relived at various reunions held around the country and that these were listed on the www.rnshipmates.co.uk website under ‘Reunions’.

Well, thank you to the country’s local press. You have made a lot of ex-servicemen take a trip down memory lane. They have emailed me on [email protected] and the secretaries of various associations have contacted me. Consequence? A lot more reunions have been held and a lot more old shipmates reunited.

With the festive celebrations behind us, reunions are again on the agenda. Therefore could I ask reunion organisers and secretaries to let me have details of their reunion for listing. This is a free service and can be done by themselves on www.rnshipmates.co.uk website under ‘Reunions’, or by emailing the details to me on [email protected]

Mike Crowe

Sandown

Isle of Wight

CAMPAIGN CHALLENGE

I’d like to invite your readers to make a new year resolution to help us fight back against the devastation of meningitis in 2020 by joining our New Year New You campaign.

I know only too well the misery meningitis can bring. I was just 16 when I contracted bacterial meningitis, which left me seriously ill in hospital. Thankfully, I made a good recovery, but others are not so fortunate.

Why not sign up for a Meningitis Now challenge or community event? We have lots to choose from to suit all levels of fitness and interest, including treks, cycles and runs, in this country and abroad. All the details are on our website at https://www.meningitisnow.org/support-us/news-centre/news-stories/new-year-new-you/

The serious point is that by doing so not only will you be getting in shape and achieving your personal goals, but you will be making a real difference to those at risk of meningitis and those whose lives have already been changed forever because of it.

Money raised will help to fund preventative research, raise awareness and support those affected by the disease through Meningitis Now’s unique range of services.

Seema Jaswal

(television presenter and

Meningitis Now ambassador)

EV OWNERS IN POLE PARKING POSITION

Drivers of petrol/diesel cars who park in electric vehicle (EV) spaces in East Lothian could see them be towed away under new powers.

In their war against the motorist, the powers that be are also reducing parking spaces by installing more charging points at cost to council taxpayers, some who cannot afford a car far less an electric one.

Why should the wealthy EV owner who gets up to £3,500 by way of a grant (was £4,500) not pay towards the charging network?

Some councils even provide free electricity.

Many EV owners leave their car in a charging point all day whilst they take the train to work. Will they be towed away?

Clark Cross

Springfield Road

Linlithgow

FREE ADVICE ON DEALING WITH DEBT

Households should use the month of January to set a budget for 2020 and seek free advice if they worried about their debts.

During 2019, National Debtline and its sister service, Business Debtline, helped more than 7,600 people in Scotland by phone and webchat, with more than 87,000 online advice visits during the year. Eight in 10 callers in Scotland felt more in control of their finances after seeking advice from National Debtline.

With the first credit card bills for Christmas spending already landing, National Debtline is urging households to take control of their finances now by following three New Year resolutions for 2020:

1. Use January to set a budget for the whole year;

2. Open all your bank, credit card and other statements;

3. Seek free debt advice if you are worried about your debts.

Remember that you are not alone in this. Free, independent advice is available from National Debtline and Business Debtline – and resist the appeals of commercial debt-management companies whose high fees and charges will only add to your debts.

National Debtline offers free advice at www.nationaldebtline.org/scotland, via webchat or by phone on 0808 808 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm; Saturday, 9.30am to 1pm).

Joanna Elson

(chief executive)

Money Advice Trust

(the charity that runs National Debtline and Business Debtline)

Garlick Hill

London