LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
MAKING A CASE FOR EASTER LANGLEE
As the executive member for roads and infrastructure at Scottish Borders Council (SBC), I would like to provide a response to the points raised in recent coverage of the waste transfer station planning application at Easter Langlee.
There has been considerable discussion around the traffic generated by such a facility and the suitability of the C77 Langshaws road to cope with increased volumes of traffic.
At present, there are 41 vehicle trips per day associated with the landfill site. If approved, the waste transfer station is predicted to generate 44 trips per day, an increase of three, which would represent only 4.5% of the overall traffic on the C77.
That figure is 83 less vehicle trips per day than the 127 daily which may have been generated by an integrated waste management facility, which SBC has existing planning consent for at Easter Langlee.
In terms of the C77 road, the council considered all the options available to mitigate the road safety issues previously raised.
The council has no evidence to indicate that any of its vehicles have ever caused any incident on this road.
Although this route is currently used by a number of organisations with large vehicles to access the operational landfill site, community recycling centre and agricultural and business land beyond, the council has committed to improving the road network through additional street lighting, better signage, localised road widening and removal of trees and vegetation.
In addition, there is an existing agreement in relation to the Melrose Gait planning consent which will deliver a roundabout at the C77-B6374 junction, as well as other planned improvements which are currently being progressed. Concerns have also been raised about the suitability of Lowood Bridge to carry large vehicles.
While the bridge is currently under a temporary weight restriction, extensive repairs to the structure are planned for next year which will see these restrictions lifted and the bridge reopened to all traffic, including for the continued use of other commercial operators who may also operate similarly large vehicles.
In summary, Easter Langlee has played a critical role in the delivery of the Borders’ waste services for over 40 years and is identified in the Local Development Plan as the key strategic site for the council’s waste services.
Much consideration has been given to the location of the waste transfer station and the impact it will have. Public consultation has taken place, opinions sought and issues addressed.
At the end of this extensive process, Easter Langlee remained the most flexible and cost-effective option for the waste transfer station.
If approved, the facility will replace the current landfill site ahead of the landfill ban in 2021.
Councillor Gordon Edgar
SMART MOVE FOR THE BIG SIX
Smart meters are another example of our political masters’ subservience to the green fascists who appear to hold them in a Rasputin-like spell.
EU directive 2009/72/EU includes a measure for “intelligent metering systems or smart grids”.
To comply, the UK Government has mandated utility companies to junk our reliable analogue electricity and gas meters and replace them with ones which will allow the Big Six to introduce variable charging regimes. All homes and small businesses are supposed to have smart meters installed by 2020. These are indeed a smart move for the electricity and gas suppliers because they will give them savings of £8bn, but their £11bn cost will be paid for by consumers through their bills.
However, if you want to change suppliers you may find that difficult with a smart meter because not all wi-fi meters work with all energy providers.
A bigger issue is the security of Britain’s energy supply.
These meters have a remote switch which can be used to disconnect electricity or gas supplies over a large geographic area in an instant. What a fat juicy target for a cyber attack!
We are assured that such a hack is impossible, and that no electronic device is available at the building level which can stop them recording. But GCHQ has already had the encryption keys changed, and the FBI reports large numbers of meters being individually hacked in the USA for electricity theft.
I suspect the computer experts at Talk Talk and Tesco Bank were also super-confident that their systems were secure. And even if wi-fi meters are secure now, who can say with certainty that they will be secure 10 years hence given that technological development is on an exponential curve?
Some believe that since smart meters emit a steady pulse of EMR they could be harmful to health (search “You Tube Stratford smart meter”), while an ITV documentary revealed huge problems following their installation, including fires.
A budget of £192m has been allocated to Smart Meter GB to convince us that smart meters are a good thing.
You may have noticed its inane cartoon figures, Gaz and Leccy, on various media. Hard to believe but true, but this organisation hired the London Philharmonic to play a “symphony” on a collection of their meters in a “public engagement campaign”.
You couldn’t make it up, but you could think of a better use for £192m, or £11bn come to that.
Fortunately, there is no legal requirement to have a smart meter installed. Just say no.
DISTRACTING FROM MISMANAGEMENT
Distraction is a tactic often used by politicians wanting to avoid the uncomfortable truth, and Nicola Sturgeon is becoming ever more adept at this technique.
So on the day that Audit Scotland issued the latest assessment of the severe challenges being faced by the NHS in Scotland, it should be no surprise that the First Minister chose to raise the spectre of the UK Government refusing to publish internal analyses she would like to see regarding the potential impact of Brexit on Scotland.
She knows, of course, that to publish these documents would undermine the UK’s negotiating position with the EU, but is happy to make her demands anyway. She also knows that these analyses will reflect a range of possible outcomes, but her interest is only in the worst possible one to feed another headline of grievance.
Meanwhile, health, like education, continues to suffer from a decade of SNP mismanagement.
The problems being faced, such as the pressures of a growing elderly population and ever more costly medicines and procedures, would test even the most effective and diligent of administrations.
But this Scottish Government is more concerned with superficial political spin around its various bans, freebies and ill-judged attempts at social engineering, than the hard graft of delivering critical services in our hospitals and schools, and encouraging the kind of vibrant business environment that would help pay for it all.
Our school days – and indeed our adult lives – can feel very tough without friends to support us, to make us laugh and to give us encouragement.
Statistics from the Department for Education suggest roughly one child in every class in every school in the UK is frequently bullied. These children are in desperate need of a friend.
We all know how important our friends are, and on Friday, November 10, anti-bullying charity Kidscape is celebrating Friendship Friday, an opportunity for young people to celebrate the friends they have, and to make some new ones.
This Friendship Friday, remember these simple points to nurture your friendships:
1, We are all unique – so choose friends who like you for who you are;
2, It is better to have a small group of friends that really love you than hundreds of friends that don’t really know you. And remember, followers aren’t friends;
3, If you are lucky you’ll have a best friend forever, but it’s much more usual to have friends that come and go – so be open to new friendships;
4, Friends don’t hurt you. If someone makes you feel bad about yourself, it’s time to ‘unfriend’;
5, Look out for people who are on their own and sad. A smile, a compliment or a chat can make someone’s day.
To find out more about Friendship Friday, to get advice on bullying, or to donate, visit www.kidscape.org.uk.
(chief executive officer)
LOW-PAID CAREER CHANGE LOOMING
So, massive redundancies are forecast to occur in the London banking sector as a result of Brexit.
Good, I say. These overpaid bankers will now be available to fill the socially-useful, albeit low-paid, agricultural jobs shortly to be vacated by Brexiting eastern Europeans.
John Eoin Douglas
FROM TRUSTS TO BOARDS
I was surprised at the headline, “Trust picking up big bill for bed-blocking”, supporting Kevin Janiak’s article in last week’s edition of the Southern.
NHS trusts were abolished many years ago in Scotland in favour of single-entity NHS boards.
PLEA TO POLITICIANS
I just finished laboriously reading the long-awaited Cost of Energy Review, which was commissioned by government.
It is perhaps not perfect, but the author’s proposals are better than the current over-complex and highly-flawed system.
I implore that politicians adopt its key recommendations, including the following three:
1. Because subsides for low-carbon energy and other costs associated with carbon reduction have increased energy bills by 25%, these subsidy costs should be itemised separately on consumers’ bills;
2. Much of the decarbonising should be delayed, as it will be cheaper to achieve it in the future than now;
3. Intermittent generators do not face the full transmission, distribution and back-up capacity costs that they impose on the system.
The author proposes that those who cause system costs will have to bear them. They will have to seek contracts to back up their intermittency, bringing into play demand responses, storage and back-up generation. Exceptions would be made where they can enter into long-term contracts with purchasers of intermittent power.
AIR FORCE OFFERS A HELPING HAND
The national press continues to raise concerns about the roll-out of universal credit which combines six benefits into one and, in some cases, will result in claimants having to wait up to six weeks before receiving their first universal credit payment.
The RAF Benevolent Fund launched its advice and advocacy service two years ago following research which indicated that many of our beneficiaries were not receiving the state benefits they were entitled to, such as housing benefit, council tax reduction or universal credit.
We are keen to hear from anyone who has served in the RAF, including their partners and dependants, who find themselves affected by the recent changes to the benefit system. We may be able to provide advice, advocacy or financial support to help alleviate your financial distress. We can also help in relation to other forms of financial distress.
If you feel we can help you or someone you know, call 0800 169 2942, or visit www.rafbf.org/help.
Air Commodore Paul
(director of welfare and policy)
RAF Benevolent Fund
The National Autistic Society is thrilled to announce that the Autism Professional Awards are back this year.
We are looking for people and organisations in your area that make a difference to the lives of autistic people and their families.
We are looking for your stories so that we can increase public understanding of autism and inspire others to support autistic individuals.
Do you know a teaching assistant who has helped an autistic child to achieve something amazing?
Or perhaps you know of a business that has made adjustments for autistic employers?
Or even an inspirational social worker?
We want to recognise all the great work in your community, so get nominating. Go to http://www.autismprofessionalsawards.org.uk/
(director, National Autistic
Society’s Centre for Autism)
WHAT THE FILM DOESN’T MENTION
All across our towns and cities, the blockbuster film Dunkirk is created great interest and fascination.
There is however, one major fact not mentioned in the film – the situation was actually so desperate that King George VI called for a National Day of Prayer on May 26, 1940.
In a nation-wide broadcast, the monarch asked the people of Britain to pray for God’s help. Thousands of special services were held across the country and literally millions of people poured into churches to pray.
Two significant events immediately followed.
Firstly, a violent storm arose over the Dunkirk region, grounding the Luftwaffe which had been killing thousands on the beaches. Secondly, a great calm descended on the Channel, the like of which hadn’t occurred for a generation, enabling the hundreds of tiny boats to rescue 338,000 soldiers, rather than the estimated 30,000.
It was the timing of these events immediately after the Prayer Day which led people to speak of “the miracle of Dunkirk” and Sunday, June 9, was officially appointed as a Day of National Thanksgiving.
Looking back at this and other events, the Bishop of Chelmsford wrote: “If ever a great nation was on the point of supreme and final disaster, and yet was saved and reinstated it was ourselves… it does not require an exceptionally religious mind to detect in all this the Hand of God.”
At the end of 1942, after the tide had turned in the war, Winston Churchill himself was moved to say: “I sometimes have a feeling of interference, I want to stress that. I have a feeling sometimes that some guiding hand has interfered.”
Details of various wartime miracles have been sent to thousands of churches across the UK so as to give congregations hope and reassurance, much needed in our unsettling times.
To get this information by email, contact [email protected], clearly putting ‘Wartime Miracles’ in the subject box.
Rev J. Willans
RISING TREND IN USE OF CLAW COVERS
I would like to raise my concerns on behalf of Cats Protection about the increased use of claw covers for cats.
This rising trend, which involves directly gluing a cover onto each individual claw, prevents cats from expressing their natural behaviours including claw retraction, scratching objects to keep their claws in good condition and to leave comforting visual marks and scent signals.
Not allowing a cat to exhibit normal behaviour may lead to the development of behavioural problems and place a cat at risk by reducing its natural defences from attack. This could mean the owner is failing a pet’s welfare needs and could be prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act 2006; should the claw covers injure or harm the cat, they may have also committed the offence of causing “unnecessary suffering”.
The only situation in which it would be appropriate to fit plastic caps to a cat’s claws is short-term for specifically diagnosed medical or behavioural problems while the underlying condition is being addressed.
It is important to remember that cats are sentient animals and not fashion accessories.
Vanessa Howie (BVetMed MRCVS)
(clinical veterinary officer)