Your picture of the Week
Julie Craddock provided this autumnal image of Faldonside Loch, between Darnick and Lindean.Please email photographs, with a brief caption, to [email protected]
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
OUR RESISTANCE IS FUTILE
I live beside the C77 road which runs between Langlee and Lauder, and as I write I hear heavy traffic rumbling by, always on the increase.
I recently wrote to all members of Scottish Borders Council planning committee expressing my objections to the proposed development of a recycling centre at Easter Langlee, sited next to the C77.
I have since been invited to attend a meeting of the committee where all objectors are allowed six minutes between them to raise points. I will not waste my time attending – why would I when it is obvious that councillors do not listen to or attempt to represent the concerns of their electorate?
Many of us raised concerns years ago about the building of two large supermarkets in Galashiels and further out-of-town retail developments, resulting in the destruction of much of the built heritage and character of the town. One look at the decimated town centre now and the requests for ideas to regenerate the centre of Galashiels shows we were right.
Thousands objected to the Great Tapestry of Scotland being located in the Borders at vast expense, but because the petition was not in the “correct” format, it was dismissed by the council. A huge amount of money was wasted clearing a site at Tweedbank before it was decided (after more objections) to locate it in Galashiels (still a bad idea).
These are but two examples of disregard for public opinion.
The recycling centre is yet another example – millions of pounds have already been wasted on consultants’ fees. Many of us have pointed out that the C77 is not suitable for such a purpose – it is too narrow for large lorries and every approach to the recycling centre is through heavily-populated residential areas or over the Bottle Bridge. I am sure the residents of Langlee, Lauder and Gattonside will not welcome the stream of heavy lorries rumbling past and the danger they pose.
I frequently have to stop, although it is my right of way, for traffic exiting the dump because they cannot see approaching vehicles due to a hedge which obscures vision.
I also wonder why planning permission for Coopersknowe and Melrose Gait was granted so close to the site which smells appalling.
The recycling centre should be located on an industrial site close to a major road so that the increased heavy traffic does not endanger or interfere with the quality of life of local residents. I suggest Councillor Gordon Edgar, who wrote from Selkirk (letters, November 2), comes to spend some time there to fully appreciate the impact.
But there is apparently no Plan B, so the outcome of the committee vote is a forgone conclusion and resistance is useless.
It is more than time that our elected councillors learned to respect and represent our opinions which so often prove to be in the best interests of the area, rather than telling us, without discussion, what is best for us. In these straightened times when resources are stretched and essential services are being cut, there should be more discussion with residents on what money should be spent on – my feeling is that education and care of the elderly would get lots of votes.
A FEELING OF BEING DUMPED ON
In reply to Gordon Edgar’s letter in last week’s issue – wake up, Gordon, throw open your window, fill your lungs with the smell of methane and other bacterial delights from the landfill.
Taste the dust and hear the music from the aggregate crushing.
Tell your family how safe it is living by the side of the C77. Send them for a brisk walk to the Coopersknowe heights and back along the recommended bicycle route during the busy times of day.
I smell a rat, many seagulls and crows, a fox or two and the odd weasel.
Someone in Scottish Borders Council must have democratically passed the proverbial buck to Gordon to write about something he knows nothing about. He has obviously fallen for a fictional version of the joys of the dump and written his letter from the sanctuary of the “ivory tower”.
What an appalling letter from someone who lives in Selkirk and not affected by the activity at the dump and in a position of responsibility.
Shift that dump to an industrial estate near a fit-for-purpose transport access and away from intense domestic habitation.
If you have any gravitas, foresight or influence, you will make a difference in the right direction and do something of merit.
BBC’S FAKE NEWS ‘DOCUMENTARY’
During the late 1970s, the BBC broadcast a “documentary”, the premise of which was that North Sea oil would run out in 10 years.
You may remember that in 1979 there was a referendum about devolution for Scotland, so the programme could probably be listed under ‘propaganda’ or an early version of Project Fear. Whatever the programme purported to be, it was fake news as oil from the North Sea continues to come ashore nearly 50 years later. Currently, industry experts predict that the flow will continue for the next 20 to 40 years.
The only constant is that Scotland will still benefit little from it.
The presumption which the anti-independence establishment rely on is the ignorance of ordinary voters – how many of us have the time to research the truth behind their claims about Scotland’s poverty; to compare Scotland’s abundance of assets with those of independent countries?
Fortunately, there are organisations on the internet where factual information for the intellectually curious can be sourced. Common Weal, Wings Over Scotland and Bella Caledonia are some, and yes, these sites are supporters of independence.
But what people must be aware of is that if any of these sites publish anything which is not factually based, the publishers know that the unionist media will pounce upon it and create a mountain out of a molehill.
As I have said before, the Berwickshire News is an excellent newspaper, reporting local events, but for Scottish-centric news, The National has no competition. While it boldly claims to support Scottish independence, it does not do so slavishly. It features many articles and reports which are critical of both the SNP and the independence-supporting movement.
You should try reading it for a few days before condemning it.
TIMETABLE WHICH TELLS IT LIKE IT IS
Well, I was always confident that Richard West would return at some point with yet another tirade at the education system (that’s the body which makes the rules, not the teachers) and the teachers themselves.
His latest letter (Southern, October 26) beggars belief and I would love to know what really fuels Mr West’s utter contempt for teachers.
Maybe a brief synopsis of a day in the life of a teacher might help:
Tuesday, October 31:
Off to school and arrive at 8.10am.
Leave school 5pm (children gone 3.30pm).
After walking dogs, at 5.45pm, start sourcing teaching documents online as no text books now available.
Stop at 6.50pm to eat.
Restart the above at 7.25pm and continue long enough for me to watch a whole Champions League match and post-match analysis (10.15pm).
This is a typical three to four days-a-week scenario, and at the weekend another six to 10 hours can also regularly be the norm.
So Mr West, either get yourself up here and see what the stress levels are like for yourself, or perhaps find another victim for your bile.
I was going to suggest getting a dog and going for long walks, but I fear for the dog’s ears.
West High Street
Yet another wind farm is planned for the Borders (near Bonchester Bridge).
Why industrialise the countryside with machines which only work part-time? Take a look at the Gridwatch website which shows the proportion and quantity of electricity supply according to type of generation across the UK (gridwatch.templar.co.uk).
The week before last, when conditions were most favourable for wind power, the thousands of onshore and offshore windmills throughout Britain were producing at one stage a quarter of Britain’s electricity.
Last Thursday things were are very different as the winds dropped from strong to light. In the evening wind was producing only 1% of the UK’s needs.
Gas supplies 36%, nuclear 19%, coal 12% and the French nuclear interconnector 4%.
So why build unreliability into the National Grid?
POSITIVE ASPECTS TO THIS DIFFICULTY
Dyslexia is a hereditary, lifelong, neurological learning difficulty which is estimated to affect one in 10 people.
It can affect not only reading, writing and spelling, but also listening, short and working memory, timekeeping and organisational skills. Without the right help, it can lead to low self-esteem, behavioural problems and low achievement.
It is recognised as a disability under the Equality Act 2010 and employers have a duty to make “reasonable adjustments” as dyslexic people are considered to be at a substantial disadvantage in the workplace, compared to those without dyslexia.
However, there are many positive aspects to dyslexia. People with dyslexia are often very creative with strong visual skills, good at problem solving and “thinking outside the box”.
Famous dyslexic people include Jamie Oliver, Jennifer Aniston, Richard Branson and Winston Churchill.
Dyslexia is not an indicator of low intelligence and with the right support dyslexic people can be helped to reach their potential.
During Dyslexia Awareness Week, the Borders branch of Dyslexia Scotland will be sending specially-printed tea towels with its logo and information to local schools.
If you would like any information on dyslexia, phone the Dyslexia Scotland helpline on 0344 800 8484, email [email protected], or visit www.dyslexiascotland.org.uk
(on behalf of Dyslexia Borders)
TIME TO DELIVER, FIRST MINISTER
Where are all the “prominent Scottish business envoys whose job would be to champion and represent Scotland’s export interests” that Nicola Sturgeon promised in the wake of last year’s Brexit vote?
One year on and, unsurprisingly, not a single trade envoy has been appointed. Export pilot schemes and the pledge to double the number of people covering Europe has nose-dived to nothing but a scam to influence the Scottish Remainers, as Sturgeon puts it, from “right-wing xenophobic rhetoric from Westminster”.
It’s time she began to be less magnificent in her promises and started to deliver. Spin on NHS and education has been evident for too long and is enough for a vote of no confidence in the weakest First Minister on record.
The European gravy train will soon be over for us and action – not fantasy – is urgently required by the Scottish Government, and particularly from its First Minister.
KEEPING GENDER WARRIORS HAPPY
How dare First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declare that recent allegations of sexual harassment are indicative of a problem with “men”.
How dare her deputy, John Swinney, lecture all men on the need to “improve their conduct”. That’s about as sensible as telling all Muslims to improve their conduct in the wake of a terrorist atrocity.
Newsflash for the Scottish Government: men are not a homogeneous group that can be singled out for special criticism and do not share collective responsibility for the behaviour of any individual males.
Sadly, a huge number of MSPs regard it as their mission in Holyrood to progress the battle of the sexes.
Being wed to extreme feminist ideology, it is no surprise that the Scottish Government is keen to treat men as an inferior and dangerous group in need of re-education. One can sense the pleasure of the gender warriors at the spectacle of John Swinney standing to eat humble pie as a representative of the male of the species.
Perhaps there will be one MSP with the boldness to object to this demonisation of half of the population?
I guess not. Most MSPs adhere to feminist orthodoxy, and the few that don’t lack the courage of their convictions.
Sexuality is a powerful force that needs strict boundaries if it is not to become destructive. It is the erosion of these boundaries that leads to the sort of abuse that is sadly so common.
The devaluing and trivialising of sex over several decades is the responsibility of those who encouraged it, but abusers are wholly accountable for their own sexual incontinence.
Scottish Family Party
MEET UP WITH OLD SHIPMATES
Many of your readers would have served in the Royal Navy and having left, possibly quite some time back, are now missing the camaraderie they had with their old shipmates.
To relive that camaraderie and possibly meet up with their old shipmates, they should get the monthly mailing list of ‘Royal Navy Reunions’. Have a look at www.rnshipmates.co.uk and check out the ‘Reunions’ section.
Reunions listings is available by emailing [email protected]
Isle of Wight
FAR FROM FULL TIME AND STABLE
Last week MP John Lamont, as Tories often do, spoke glowingly about falling unemployment and the growth of “full-time and stable jobs” due to the strength of the UK economy.
He may as well have spoken of his “strong and stable” Tory government.
Sure, the unemployment figures are going down, but this isn’t the same as “full-time and stable jobs”.
Across the UK, growth in jobs is in zero-hour contracts; many people have two or more jobs to make ends meet. Far from full-time and stable, that sounds like many families are experiencing a precarious working situation.
You can’t talk about jobs without talking about wages. In real spending terms, wages are below what they were in 2010 when the Tories took over.
Does Mr Lamont care about this?
Mr Lamont, regularly one of the highest claimers of expenses among MSPs when he was in Holyrood, voted in Westminster against dropping the 1% pay rise cap for public service workers.
Since 2010, they have seen their pay cut by 14%, while inflation has just pushed up interest rates and households are back to pre-crash levels of debt.
The UK economy, like the UK Government, is ludicrously, dangerously weak.
IS THIS WHAT WE WERE PROMISED?
Each week in the pages of the Southern Reporter, John Lamont MP and Rachael Hamilton MSP take turns to champion the Union and belittle Scottish Government’s efforts.
We now know that the Queen, head of the Union, not only has money invested in tax havens, but also in people who prey on the very poorest citizens in our society.
In this self-same Union, the Trussell Trust distributed over a million three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis, with 415,866 of those going to children.
As the Brexit debacle rumbles on with little prospect of a successful conclusion, and Westminster continues in its seedy ways, is this really the Better Together we were promised, the best Scotland can hope for from the Union?
Perhaps governing ourselves is fast becoming not an option, but a necessity.
PRO-SCOTLAND OR ANTI-UK?
So Alex Salmond is joining an active investor to attempt to take control of Johnston Press, which owns this paper and the Scotsman.
The former First Minister and SNP leader claims he wants to make the Scotsman “more pro-Scotland”. Really?
Mr Salmond clearly hasn’t opened the Scotsman lately – it’s passionate in its support and coverage of Scotland.
But perhaps Mr Salmond’s sub-text is that more pro-Scotland must mean more anti-UK?
Does the SNP really need another house journal besides The National?
Researchers in Australia have found that replacing just 2% of their feed with seaweed could help cut methane pollution from cows.
Environmentalists have said that cows and sheep are responsible for 44% of all human-related greenhouse gas emissions.
The Scottish Government is being urged by John Scott MSP to trial the system since it would “allow Scottish farming to play a still more significant role in achieving Scotland’s carbon reduction targets”.
Reminder: Scotland has only 0.13% of global emissions.
Scotland has 1.8 million cattle and 6.6 million sheep. There are 1.4 billion cattle, 1 billion sheep, 2 billion pigs and 6.7 billion people in the world.
Will it soon become mandatory to feed humans and animals seaweed to “save the planet”?
PAYING WORKERS AND EMPLOYERS
As a Living Wage employer, it is important that we play our part in marking Living Wage Week, the annual celebration of the Living Wage Movement, which is taking place this week.
The real Living Wage is independently calculated each year, based on what it is assessed is needed to cover the basic cost of living in the United Kingdom, and now stands at £8.75 an hour. It should, however, not just been seen solely as an additional cost to an organisation because, as we have experienced, it brings considerable benefits.
This is borne out by research conducted on Living Wage employers. When they introduced the Living Wage they experienced a 25% fall in absenteeism, with 80% of employers believing that the Living Wage has enhanced the quality of work of their staff and 66% of employers reporting a significant impact on recruitment and retention within their organisation. Low staff turnover can have additional benefits such as lower recruitment costs and increased productivity.
Our success as a national water retailer, which undertakes the Scottish Government contract to provide water billing and efficiency services to the majority of the public sector, depends on the skills, enthusiasm, ambition and dedication of our employees.
Signing up to the Living Wage is not only the right thing to do, but marked an important milestone for us, boosting productivity and competitiveness through having a committed workforce.
We would urge other companies and organisations to sign up to the Living Wage and take advantage of the tremendous benefits this brings.
Anglian Water Business