Your picture of the week

Curtis Welsh captured this image of Smailholm Tower and the Cheviot Hills beyond from Brotherstone Heights.Please email photographs, with a brief caption, to [email protected]

Thursday, 24th October 2019, 11:50 am
Smailholm Tower and the Cheviot Hills beyond from Brotherstone Heights.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

AN EXTREMELY RIDICULOUS BELIEF

The media’s appetite for dramatic images, fuelled by the anguished utterances of the sadly-misinformed and manipulated teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg, has provided the left-wing Extinction Rebellion cult with the heady oxygen of publicity.

Their simplistic, one-dimensional belief that elevated levels of carbon dioxide are entirely to blame for everything from environmental degradation and so-called extreme weather events to catastrophic sea level rise and the imminent demise of humankind is, to put it politely, extremely ridiculous. Although they may have gained a surge of support following Thunberg’s speech at the recent UN climate summit in New York, their recent antics on the London underground have perhaps provided a reality check for the population at large.

There is undoubtedly much that can be done to lessen our environmental impacts, but the green lobby’s clamour for electric vehicles (EVs) with the over-hyped “zero emissions at source” claim typifies their limited levels of understanding.

This transport “revolution” comes with a huge potential demand for finite raw materials for battery manufacture. These are procured at very considerable environmental and human costs, with further unresolved provisions to cope with the future disposal of millions of tonnes of exhausted batteries. EVs will also place further burdens on the National Grid which, if the Greens have their way, will be provided primarily and precariously by intermittent wind and solar power.

We are now enjoying unprecedented levels of comfort, health and prosperity.

Were these green zealots to forgo all such modern conveniences – including the social media that they so freely use to spread their alarmist messages, which has a carbon footprint close to rivalling that of the entire global aviation fuel emissions – then they would at least be showing that they have the courage of their convictions, however misguided they may be.

Neil J. Bryce

Morebattle

WELFARE SHOULD BE SUSPENDED

Thousands of Extinction Rebellion supporters, with their actions, are disrupting workers, including vital services employees, trying to get to work.

Those demonstrators receiving welfare should have it suspended. The demonstrators’ excuse is that the planet is in danger. If this is so, then why are there are no demonstrations in China, Russia and India, which are responsible for more than 40% of global emissions? Cowardice?

If all these demonstrators, high-octane celebrities, taxpayer-funded Green politicians and others around the world were to lead by example and never attend music festivals or showbiz events, drive or travel in a fossil-fuelled vehicle or have goods delivered by one; turn off their gas supply and not fly, eat no meat and only have one child, then the emissions problem would be solved.

Will the long-suffering public see such pledges?

We know the answer – talk is easy.

Clark Cross

Linlithgow

WILL THEY LISTEN THIS TIME?

Scottish Borders Council is inviting members of the public to give their views on how it could spend taxpayers’ money differently.

I am glad to hear this, however, the council administration doesn’t have a good record when it comes to listening to the public. I know from the experience of trying to get speed bumps in Langlee Drive, cemetery maintenance, closure of day centres for the elderly – the list goes on.

I do hope you, the public, give your views and the council, this time, listens.

A. Cruickshank

Langlee Drive

Galashiels

WESTMINSTER’S FISCAL BUFFER

Let’s blow away all nationalistic hysteria from the usual circus of BBC TV (Remainer)presenters and MPs clouding the electorate’s vision.

Let’s get down to the real situation that facts and figures cannot disguise.

Scotland is a member of the United Kingdom and all four nations together voted in the 2016 referendum for a no-deal Brexit. Nationalist Scottish politicians are well aware of this situation – regardless of their childish attitude in Holyrood and, in particular, Westminster.

In addition, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed his non-acceptance of Scottish independence and preference for all nations united. This gives more stability to the UK, both fiscally and politically. This has been a sovereign decision as our Prime Minister is at the pleasure of the Queen and head of state.

Scotland’s GDP (gross domestic product) is the highest deficit in Europe at 9.6% ,and increasing. To join the European Union, the maximum deficit allowed is 3%. Also, regardless of her posturing, factless speech at the SNP conference this month, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon failed to mention that refusal of entry to the EU on fiscal grounds has already been given to Scotland on two occasions.

Poor fiscal management by the Scottish government and, in particular, by the First Minister and financial secretary Derek Mackay has produced the highest tax band in Europe.

Caroline Gardner, Auditor General for Scotland, has already commented: “Parliament needs better information to be able to better scrutinise ministers’ decision-making.”

Scotland’s exchequer is bankrupt due to the fiscal incompetence of the Sturgeon “family”and unscrutinised government accounts for many years.

The outcome of this has affected many government departments, including NHS staff shortages through inadequate financial stability.

Four years ago Scotland’s share of oil revenues topped £11bn. The latest figures show this has slumped to only £60m – a drop of 97%. Graeme Roy, director of the Fraser of Allandar Institute, warned that these oil figures were likely to be the “new normal”.

As a rough guide, government spending is around 50% of Scotlands GDP (thus that budget deficit climbing toward 10% of GDP). Scottish independence would require one of two things – either a cut in government spending of 10%GDP or a rise in taxation of that amount. It would require a 20% reduction in government spending or the tax method would require everyone to pay 20% more tax, which is already the highest in Europe.

Due to the true shape of the Scottish exchequer, independence can never happen.

The Scottish nationalists have much to answer for.

Without the fiscal buffer of Westminster, they would never survive.

Paul Singleton

Gordon

COMMISSION QUESTION

In her speech at the SNP conference, Nicola Sturgeon accused her opponents of trying to rig the question of any second independence referendum.

The First Minister has some cheek, given what she is referring to is calls for the Scottish government simply to allow the Electoral Commission to do its job and update testing of the question to be used in any future referendum.

The commission might or might not agree the same question as last time is the fairest approach, but for the SNP to impose its preference without any review is to try to avoid proper process.

Equally, it is duplicitous to suggest, as Nicola Sturgeon has, that raising questions about the Electoral Commission’s involvement somehow signals acceptance that another referendum is going to happen. Actually, these calls for fairness and sticking with the established system are being raised now because the First Minister is pushing legislation through Holyrood with a view to getting her preferred terms enshrined in law.

So much for the SNP’s claims of wanting a “gold standard” approach to a referendum.

Keith Howell

West Linton

CUSTOM SHOULD BE EXTINGUISHED

Sainsbury’s is to be congratulated for stopping the sale of fireworks in its stores.

Hopefully, other supermarkets will follow this bold move.

Fireworks cause noise and air pollution. They frighten domestic and wild animals. They cause PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) flashbacks.

Last year Scottish fire crews attended 338 bonfire incidents, and every year there are accidents caused by fireworks. With increasing environmental awareness, it is time to end this wasteful custom.

William Loneskie

Oxton

MUSEUM STALWART STEPPING DOWN

On the eve of my ‘retirement’ from Trimontium, principally because of age and infirmity, I write to thank the Southern Reporter for its forbearance in accepting and publishing in its district news pages, over the last 20 years or so, my notes of chiefly Trimontium activities which I have enjoyed organising, alongside many other volunteers, over the years.

With the impending closure of the museum, an era has come to an end and my sources have dried up.

Buildings and their contents may come and go, but what is really important is the enjoyable and human interaction between the providers and the locals and visitors. The contribution of the local press to that mix has been very much appreciated.

Donald Gordon

Newstead

FUND IS THERE TO HELP VETERANS

My father and his two brothers flew with the Royal Air Force during the Second World War; one in Coastal Command, one in Bomber Command and one in Fighter Command.

I imagine it was quite unusual that the three brothers flew in the three separate branches of the RAF, and even more unusual that, come the end of the war, had all survived.

I am very proud to be backing the RAF Benevolent Fund’s centenary campaign to reach out to RAF veterans and let them know the help and support they deserve is out there.

The fund, which celebrates its centenary this month, is here to help the whole RAF family through the toughest times. It is estimated that there are up to 100,000 veterans and their partners who urgently need help. Often National Service veterans and their partners, who answered their country’s call more than 60 years ago, don’t even realise they can turn to the RAF Benevolent Fund for help.

Time is running out, we only have a few years to help these veterans before it is too late. So I urge you to speak to your relatives, neighbours and friends, and if they once served for the RAF and are in need of support, encourage them to contact the Fund.

It is our duty to ensure these veterans spend their twilight years in comfort and dignity, with the help of the RAF Benevolent Fund. If you know someone who needs support, call 0300 102 1919.

Sue Holderness

(RAF Benevolent Fund

ambassador)

WHY NOT RISE TO THE CHALLENGE?

I would like to invite your readers to join an amazing charity team and climb the three highest peaks in the country to help raise money for people living with the impact of meningitis.

A few years ago, when I was just 22 years old, I was told I only had three hours to live. I had been on my way to Norway for a work trip when I fell ill. Luckily, I wasn’t allowed on the flight because what I didn’t realise at the time was that I had deadly meningitis.

I am so grateful that I survived. Many are not so fortunate.

But even so, I am living with long-term after-effects of the disease which includes memory loss, anxiety and hearing problems.

This was one of the reasons I was so glad I chose to join the Meningitis Now team when I took part in the Three Peak Challenge earlier this year. Not only did I know that I was raising money for a fantastic cause to help people like me, but I also found the most incredible support network of people who helped me through one of the most exhilarating weekends of my life.

I cannot recommend this experience highly enough and I would encourage anyone, whether they have had a meningitis experience or not, to join the Meningitis Now team. You will be looked after from the moment you sign up until the moment you say goodbye at the end of the challenge. And if your experience is anything like mine, you will make some new friends for life.

Sign up now for Meningitis Now’s Three Peaks Challenge 2020 by visiting their website at meningitisnow.org, or contact Kirsty at the charity at [email protected]

Holly Jackson

ENERGY AND GENEROSITY

In 2019 Macmillan Cancer Support’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning fundraiser entered its 29th year.

In community centres, schools and workplaces, thousands of coffee mornings were held across Scotland to raise money and help us support people affected by cancer.

I would like to offer a huge and heartfelt thanks to every single one of your readers who held or attended a coffee morning – your energy and generosity never ceases to amaze us.

Whether it’s specialist cancer nurses, support workers or benefit advisers, we can only offer the support that people with cancer need thanks to the tireless fundraising efforts of our supporters.

The number of people who need our help is growing, and we want to offer support to everyone who needs it. We are almost entirely funded by the public, so every coffee morning held – every cup of coffee bought – makes a difference.

If you need information, support or a chat with Macmillan, call us free on 0808 808 0000.

If you’d like to support Macmillan and do something amazing today, you can also visit macmillan.org.uk/getinvolved.

Janice Preston

(head of services)

Macmillan Cancer Support in Scotland