‘Temporary’ move proved permanent

Away back in 1988 the people of Selkirk were hoodwinked by the then chairman of Borders Health Board, a Dr Peters, when he told us that our cottage hospital at Viewfield Home would have to be closed “temporarily” so that staff could be moved to the new Borders General Hospital to allow all wards, including palliative care ones, to open at the same time in the replacement for Peel Hospital.

An assurance was given that the staff would be moved back to Selkirk as soon as possible when the funding allowed. Of course that never happened and Selkirk was the first town in the Borders to lose its own cottage hospital, which had been provided by public subscription.

The Souters fell for it in 1988, but the people of the Borders have that experience to fall back on in 2013.

Last week we were told that NHS Borders was moving the much-used and valuable hydro pool out of the BGH, resiting it at Jedburgh’s Laidlaw Memorial Pool. That statement was totally erroneous and although health chiefs said that the plans were in place for this, no such proposals have been submitted and Jedburgh Leisure Facilities Trust, a private body, has not confirmed that any deal has been done, apart from an exploratory meeting.

The chairman of the Jedburgh pool, former councillor Lenny Wyse, has gone on record to say that any plans to provide a hydro-pool facility at Jedburgh is several years away at least, and as a priority it does not rate in the top three places.

So where does that leave NHS Borders chairman John Raine and, more particularly, chief executive Calum Campbell who told us that the BGH pool was closing soon and they hoped the new facility would take over? I’m afraid it leaves them both with the proverbial egg on their face, but more than that it puts them in the same category as the late Dr Peters.

I would also remind both gentlemen that they should be looking at the bigger picture. Borders General Hospital was built where it is to make it central to all Borderers. That was the reasoning behind resiting the excellent Peel Hospital near to Caddonfoot.

Why move bits of it now, a quarter of a century later, to outlying areas where many folk most in need cannot reach easily?

The hydro pool is for people who need therapy and may be less mobile than most. Why make them drive or go by public transport from Peebles or West Linton or even Galashiels or Selkirk to Jedburgh? Who pays for the extra mileage?

Time to reconsider, gentlemen, or maybe even consider your own positions.

Kenneth Gunn



Voters remain estranged

As a Scot who is proud to be British, I, like many of my fellow Brits, see much despair in the state of our political class, both in Scotland and throughout the Western world.

I wonder if our national apathy on things political is the result of party politics, which reek enough to ensure that the majority of voters remain estranged from the political process.

What has changed so much since the days of working class and female enfranchisement (right to vote), or following the French and American revolutions, when the great minds of their day engaged to ensure that government was sufficiently restrained from effecting tyranny against the people? It is no secret that the American constitution was used to enshrine a constitutional republic to limit government and to protect the people from the politicians. Would our politicians do this today?

Thomas Paine was an Englishman granted asylum by French and American governments in those days of revolution. He was in hiding from our king who, with his government in Westminster, had accused him of treason for writing a book titled “Rights of Man”. The basis of the charge was that he wrote of how a monarchical system of government can only be a corruption of the natural order of sovereignty; as it seeks to bestow privilege through order and rank, while it removes sovereignty, liberty, freedom and equality from the individual.

One of the interesting points that is often overlooked in Paine’s famous text is that a democratically-elected government can become as corrupt as a tyrannical monarch when an entrenched party system dominates a country’s political process.

With this in mind and as much as I would normally object to First Minister Alex Salmond displaying a lack of support for both freedom of speech and for all political parties engaged in legitimate political activities, I will simply note my concern at the attitude coming from all of our old political parties

It would seem that the entrenched progressive political parties have suggested that there is a wrong way of thinking – what next, re-education centres?

In the normal course of things, legitimate political debate from a political party comes from both within the party and, by extension, from the voters who it has listened to when formulating policies. This is what UKIP does and I would suggest that perhaps what our First Minister and those party leaders who claim that UKIP’s policies are “not wanted in Scotland” mean is that they do not want to listen to the legitimate concerns of the voters they represent in the same way that UKIP has.

I would encourage the electorate to engage in the voting process to show that they have had enough of the consensus party politics with inherent cronyism and a patronising “do-as-I-say” attitude.

Voting for the party with the principles most closely aligned to your own will ensure that whichever party it is, it will not be a wasted vote.

Steven McKeane

Ellwyn Terrace



Railing against rising costs

It is great to see progress on the new, much-needed Borders railway line, but there are already warning signs that the project will cost a whole lot more than the estimated figure.

No surprises there. Let’s hope it is not another Edinburgh trams disaster.

It never ceases to amaze me that government projects, be it local or national, always go over budget. Not by 20 or 30 per cent, but by mind-boggling amounts.

I ran a small garage, in a wee village in deepest Aberdeenshire, for a number of years and would have been run out of town if my customer’s bills had been even 20 per cent over estimate. If you are a small builder and estimate a job, not only are you competing with other bidders, but you are also stuck with your estimate. You take the hit if you have not done your sums right.

Not so with government project bidders. It is a licence to print money. Penalty clauses just don’t appear to exist with these projects. It could be argued that the company who gave the original estimate should be sued for incompetence, as there is no convincing reason for a 100 per cent increase in the project’s final cost.

Don’t hold your breath that it won’t be much more. Having said all that, I would like to be on the first train.

Ian Smith

Craig Brown Avenue


speed limit

Councillor makes a point

I refer to the article in last week’s paper about the proposed speed limit for Yarrow Feus.

I am the community councillor for Ettrick and Yarrow who attended the area forum and I certainly did not say that nobody wanted the limit. What I did say was that the community council was unanimously opposed to it, as were most of the people I had spoken to.

I did acknowledge that there were two people in Yarrow Feus who had attended at least one of our meetings and were fairly vociferous in their support for the idea. These two people being the two mentioned in the article.

Brian Roberts



Celebrating Scotland

Home. One of my favourite words. The mere mention makes me want to be there, conjuring up a feeling of warmth in my mind – a blazing fire, comfy slippers and a cup of tea.

Home is somewhere you look forward to going to and no matter what type of day you’ve had, or how far you have to travel to get there, once you arrive all seems right with the world again.

In 2014, I’m encouraging the great Scottish public – yes, that’s you – to celebrate your home of Scotland in all its breath-taking glory. I want every person within the 5.3million people who inhabit our beautiful shores to come together and celebrate what makes our home the most magnificent in the world.

Homecoming 2014 begins as the clock strikes midnight on December 31 this year.

From the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn to a celebration of the iconic Forth bridges, to whisky, music, dance and storytelling festivals galore, there is something to inspire all to get out there and discover more about Scottish history, culture and entertainment.

Events will fall into five themes: creative, active, natural, ancestry, food and drink. So if you prefer feasting on seafood to throwing yourself down a mountain on a bicycle, we don’t mind as long as we can inspire you to get involved.

And for those that think that Homecoming is not for them? Well, as you recline on the sofa in your own home tonight, I want you to think of one thing about Scotland that you cannot wait to get back to – the thing that you miss most when you dare to venture from these shores.

Because beyond the fireworks, pomp and spectacle, that’s what Homecoming is about. It is a time to remember why we love our small, but perfectly-formed country so much.

Events are being added by the day to the Homecoming 2014 programme. For more details on events in your area or how to get involved, visit

Mike Cantlay



Ocean Point One


Family history

Galashiels gathering

On May 11, the Borders Family History Society (BFHS) hosted the annual conference of the Scottish Association of Family History Societies (SAFHS) in Galashiels.

This event is the largest genealogy event in Scotland and this year attracted more than 170 delegates from the UK, Australia, Canada and the USA, and over 80 stall holders from as far afield as Exeter and Inverness. Many took the opportunity of spending a few nights in the Borders as tourists.

Our theme was “Scotland and Migration” and each of the speakers, who had travelled from as far south as Harrogate and as far north as Thurso, provided interesting and appreciated insights about the theme subject as well as droving and drove roads in Northumberland, emigration and immigration records on the internet, researching the Buccleuch land records, Borders families who moved to Caithness and migration stories in the National Portrait Gallery.

Visitors also took advantage of an advice room where BFHS members provided assistance and information to those researching their family history. The society also thanks the businesses and individuals who donated raffle prizes and other goods and services, all of which helped support the event.

BFHS is run by a small team of volunteers. It would not have been possible to host this event without the enthusiasm, knowledge and skills of society members.

Elma Fleming

(SAFHS 2013 Conference, Borders Family History



Founder’s alarm appeal

Purple is the colour of Epilepsy Week (May 19-25). It was also one of my son Muir’s first words when he was learning to speak as a toddler.

Sadly Muir has Dravet Syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy that causes loss of language, profound learning disabilities and behavioural problems.

What has been vital for us and many other families is an epilepsy alarm. Its piercing noise is activated if a child is having a seizure during sleep.

A good-quality and reliable epilepsy alarm costs £750. For the last 10 years the Muir Maxwell Trust has raised funds to provide alarms for children with epilepsy and their families struggling to cope.

Please help us by donating at

Ann Maxwell


Muir Maxwell Trust)



Kelso group’s thanks

Kelso Childminders are a non-affiliated group of registered childminders who meet regularly to network and give the children in our care the opportunity to play within a social environment.

We would like to thank Kelso Football Club for the use of its clubhouse and facilities, and are grateful to Sainsbury’s in Kelso for supplying us with tea, coffee and snacks.

If you are a registered childminder within the Kelso area, we would love you to come along, so please contact us at for details of our next meeting.

Gwen Bennet




Earlston coffee morning cash

Earlston Chess Club would like to thank everybody who attended and supported its coffee morning in Hanover Lounge, and to those who gave a donation towards the club.

A sum of £300 was raised which will help to pay for a playing venue next winter.’

G. Birbeck

(Earlston Chess Club)