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Claire Roberts supplied this image of a spring evening rainbow over fields at Ednam.

Please email photographs, with a brief caption, to southern-letters@jpress.co.uk

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

GRIPPING COUNCIL BY THE BUDGETS

Sir, – Two articles in last week’s Southern Reporter – ‘Bid launched to save bus service facing axe’ and ‘Calls going out for action to stop roads going to pot’ – reminded me yet again of the fantasy land council policymakers at their Newtown HQ inhabit.

To save paltry sums, more non-drivers – inevitably the elderly and vulnerable – face being cut off and those that can drive there is the prospect of soaring repair bills as vehicles get hammered daily on our dire road network.

Yet education sails merrily on, gobbling up 42% of council tax. The response to this is often that it is a “legal obligation” on the local authority to dispense such largesse to the education sector.

There are many things which councils chose to ignore, seemingly with impunity, that are “the law”. Maintaining a fit-for-purpose road network, achieving and maintaining a certain level of cleanliness on roads and in public places, and adequately resourcing services for the vulnerable will do for starters – all areas where Scottish Borders Council habitually fails.

Budget allocations have nothing to do with some desire to obey “the law”. Local authorities have disregarded legal obligations for decades when it suits them. This preposterous imbalance in budget allocations has everything to do with the power of the educational establishment and the teaching unions, and nothing whatever to do with some concern to be within “the law”.

Perhaps those of us who have never placed any demand on the local education system should start a protest movement to withhold 42% of our council tax. It would be entertaining to watch the council chasing its own tail and spending a fortune trying to recover its lost millions. – Yours, etc.,

Richard West

Inch Park

Kelso

TRAINING PLACES CANCELLATION

Sir, – The job of health secretary is one of the most important in any government.

Yet no reply has yet been given by the republican Scottish National Party for First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s culpability during her chaotic period as health secretary (2007-12). She is personally responsible for the cancellation during this period of 2,000 training places for badly-needed nurses, saying they were “unnessary”, leading to today’s chaos in Scotland’s hospitals. If this is the best example of leadership from the SNP, the electorate will run in fear at the next general election.

It is incredible to think that opposition parties – Labour and Conservative in particular – have not questioned the First Minister and current SNP health secretary about this serious situation.

The First Minister is too busy opposing anything in Westminster and Holyrood, and the electorate will no longer accept this childish behaviour – especially during Brexit negotiations. Her main decision lately has been to increase taxes to cover her mistakes and disastrous decisions. Perhaps if we all close our eyes this will all go away. – Yours, etc.,

Paul Singleton

Gordon

INMATES REJECTED CIVILISED VALUES

Sir, – Holyrood’s equalities and human rights committee has backed a proposal from MSP Patrick Harvie that prisoners in Scottish jails should be entitled to vote.

Would that be to vote as part of a society with civilised values which these criminals rejected when they committed their crimes?

As MSPs sit in their ivory tower there is a rising wave of violence and abuse against hospital staff across the Scottish NHS, with more than 16,500 physical and verbal attacks. Scotland is also facing a growing menace from organised crime with more than 3,000 gangsters and nearly 170 crime syndicates.

The SNP soft-touch stance on criminals and sentencing makes a mockery of justice for the victims. We need a strict sentencing and prison regime with no frills that will ensure that offenders, once released, have no desire to return.

Scottish MSPs must squash this proposal or face the wrath of the electorate. – Yours, etc.,

Clark Cross

Linlithgow

HAPPY WITH THEIR DUAL IDENTITY

Sir, – One or two of your correspondents make the unfortunate error of equating nationalism with patriotism. So let’s set the record straight.

The SNP is merely a political party, no more, no less.

Supporting the SNP doesn’t necessarily mean someone is patriotic, though they could be. What supporting the SNP emphatically does mean is that you are a separatist – since the principal raison d’etre of that party is to break up the UK, separating Scotland from the rest of the UK.

Similarly, the majority in the Borders and wider Scotland who support pro-UK parties most likely favour retaining Scotland’s place within the UK – and that doesn’t necessarily make them less, nor indeed more, patriotic than an SNP supporter. Those who back the concept of an independent Scotland don’t have a monopoly on patriotism. Many of those who support the constitutional status quo are patriotic Scots. And because they choose to criticise the SNP, its focus on independence or the nationalists’ governmental record doesn’t mean they are denigrating Scotland – they merely express a political opinion. Indeed, many are comfortable with their dual identity as Scottish and British, and have no desire to make a choice. – Yours, etc.,

Martin Redfern

Edinburgh

CHARITY’S SUPPORT FOR WOMEN

Sir, – You may have seen news stories about a problem with breast-screening invitations in England since 2009 that has affected many thousands of women who would be aged between 69 and 79 today.

We’ve created a dedicated page on our website, www.breastcancercare.org.uk, where you can watch our minute-long video with Breast Cancer Care clinical director Dr Emma Pennery. People who are affected (or are worried they may be) can read more in the blog.

Our free helpline is there Monday to Saturday on 0808 800 6000 to support people through this and any other breast cancer concerns they may have. Our ‘Ask Our Nurses’ email service can provide expert support in writing. – Yours, etc.,

Samia al Qadhi

(chief executive,

Breast Cancer Care)

A FUND FOR RURAL PROJECTS

Sir, – The ongoing effects of weather, bureaucracy and concern for the future continue to put our countryside under pressure, with few avenues to turn to for support.

This can have dramatic consequences for the rural economy and the people who live and work there.

The Prince’s Countryside Fund is committed to supporting community-led projects that will reinvigorate and sustain farming networks and the countryside by providing services and amenities through its grant programme.

Open for applications until June 14, grants are available for up to £50,000.

If you are involved in a community-run or farming-support project, and think that your organisation may benefit – or if you know someone else who might – please get in touch straight away by visiting www.princescountrysidefund.org.uk/grants.

The fund has supported a diverse range of projects delivered locally such as a community transport app in Argyll, and projects on Barra, Orkney and Shetland. We are proud to have distributed more than £9m since 2010 to more than 25 projects led by these grassroots organisations.

We believe it is crucial that we help rural areas during these times of change to retain a thriving countryside and encourage a sustainable farming sector in the UK, and we would really encourage people to apply for our funding. – Yours, etc.,

Claire Saunders

(director)

The Prince’s Countryside Fund

Shepherdess Walk

London

FANCY RISING TO PEAK CHALLENGE?

Sir, – We’d love your readers to join us to take on a Lake District trek and help conquer meningitis at the same time.

Outdoor enthusiasts can take on next year’s challenge to climb eight peaks over 3,000ft over two days. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but it does promise spectacular views, serious adventure and a tremendous sense of achievement.

If it is for you, every step you take will help us to fight meningitis and move us closer to our vision of a future where no one in the UK dies from the disease and everyone affected gets the support they need.

Sadly, despite huge strides forward in vaccines and prevention, meningitis and septicaemia continue to affect thousands every year and kill more under-5s than any other infectious disease. Help us fight back on all fronts by funding research to eradicate the disease, raising awareness and supporting survivors.

Walking time over the two days, which includes climbing Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England, is about 18 hours and the route covers 20 miles. But we’ll look after you really well, leaving you free to concentrate on the trek and enjoy the breath-taking scenery – it really is a stunning route.

It takes place between May 2 and 5 next year, giving you plenty of time to prepare, and is suitable for individuals and groups.

Interested? Find out more on our website, www.MeningitisNow.org, or email me, michaelai@meningitisnow.org. – Yours, etc.,

Michaela Ifill

(events fundraiser)

Meningitis Now

Stroud

Gloucestershire

SENTIMENTAL VALUE OF CROOK

Sir, – On Thursday, May 10, I left my crook, in error, at Thornielee after I had walked my dogs.

I returned shortly after leaving after noon, but the crook was nowhere to be seen. It would seem that someone has picked it up. The crook was made by my late father and is of considerable sentimental value to me (I am now in my 80th year) and I would dearly like to recover it. If the finder reads this I shall be very grateful if he/she would contact me by telephoning 01896 758637. – Yours, etc.,

Alasdair H. McVitie

High Road

Galashiels

OPPONENTS INTENT ON ANNIHILATION

Sir, – We in Britain, surrounded by the sea in Shakespeare’s immortal words, “in the office of a wall, or as a moat defensive to a house”, tend to be relaxed about our security.

Not so the Israelis who face opponents – Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran among others – intent on their annihilation.

Events on Monday were not demonstrations, nor even riots, but organised, incited and financially-sponsored attempts to break into Israel. Had they succeeded in breaching the border, Israel would have faced the immediate slaughter of civilians by suicide bombers and terrorists.

The attitude of Hamas to human life is precisely the same as that of the IS sponsors of last weekend’s family suicide bombings in Indonesia, because both stem from the same Salafist ideological roots.

The Palestinians and their supporters, including Jeremy Corbyn and his associates, disingenuously demand ‘a right of return’, knowing full well that this would result in the immediate and complete destruction of Israel. Do the Germans demand a right of return to East Prussia, the Greeks to Ionia or the Armenians to Eastern Turkey? Of course not. Could Jews exercise a right of return to the Rivers of Babylon or anywhere else in the Middle East, where their ancestors lived for centuries or even millennia until 1948? Inconceivable. The blame for Monday’s bloodshed should be placed firmly and solely on Hamas and its Iranian and other Islamist sponsors. – Yours, etc.,

Otto Inglis

Edinburgh

PANCREATIC CANCER SUPPORT AVAILABLE

Sir, – Sadly, some of your readers may have been given a pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

As a specialist nurse at Pancreatic Cancer UK, I understand this can be an extremely difficult time for not only the person diagnosed, but their loved ones too. This week is Dying Matters Week (May 14-20) and I would like to encourage anyone with terminal pancreatic cancer who is in the last few months or weeks of life to download or order our new booklet on pancreatic cancer and end of life care.

The free resource will be an enormous help to patients and families, because it includes specific information about how to manage the symptoms which people with pancreatic cancer may get towards the end of their life.

It also has information about how to access the care and support they might need.

People can download the booklet from our website at www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk/end-of-life. To order the booklet, or if anyone needs further information or support, they can speak to myself or one of my colleagues on our free, confidential Support Line by calling 0808 801 0707 or emailing nurse@pancreaticcancer.org.uk. – Yours, etc.,

Jeni Jones

(nurse specialist)

Pancreatic Cancer UK