Your picture of the week

Autumn at Bridgend Park, Kelso
Autumn at Bridgend Park, Kelso

Sheila Elliot captured autumn in all its colourful glory at Bridgend Park, Kelso, with this image.

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

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

NEIGHBOURING PROPOSALS

I was intrigued to read the article headlined ‘Neighbours at odds over house proposals’ in your October 18 issue.

I was not aware that I was involved in a row with my neighbours, and thank you for bringing this to my attention.

You are correct in stating that I have submitted a planning application for two properties, which was indeed made prior to Ferguson Planning’s application on behalf of Eric Forster and his wife.

However, I am confused as to why my submission, which happened to be prior to Mr and Mrs Forster’s, should represent any problem – on that basis I could make the same argument [whatever that is?] for their application.

Ferguson Planning claims that the Forsters have been planning to build a property for some time and that my application represents “a hastily-prepared application” that happens to have been submitted prior to its clients.

I was completely unaware that Mr Forster was intending to build a house on the site, and at no point been given the impression this was the case.

At the end of the day we have made no objection to his application.

The fact is that all three properties are outwith the “ribbon” of existing buildings and therefore speculative. I therefore sought to keep costs to a minimum, hence the reason why my application was not prepared by a planning consultant and appeared [to Ferguson Planning] to be hastily submitted.

I have a family who all have an interest in the farm – my daughter is currently in the fourth year of a veterinary medicine degree and we have an obvious interest in exploring what our options for the future of the farm might be.

Ferguson Planning goes on to raise concerns regarding the boundaries and claims its application lies within a defensible edge, which appears to be the boundary of Mr Forster’s land which now has a newly-planted hedge next to it.

I am unclear as to why this should be any different than the natural land form that would surround my proposed building.

Mike Orr

Lower Greenhill

Selkirk

CALLOUS CONSERVATIVES

I am no longer surprised by the callousness, inhumanity and hypocrisy of Conservative politicians, but surely a new low was achieved in the Scottish Parliament last week.

“The two-child limit is about fairness, it is fair that people on benefit cannot have as many children as they like, while people who work and pay their way and don’t claim benefit, have to make decisions about the number of children they can have”.

This from Michelle Ballantyne, Tory MSP for South Scotland, mother of six children, for all of whom she claimed benefits!

The Conservative government has caused the unnecessary deaths of thousands of people as a direct result of its brutal policies. The bedroom tax, rape clause, austerity and sanctions have all caused extreme stress, homelessness and mental illness.

It is surely now legitimate to ask, when will this heartless Conservative government introduce euthanasia for people who are economically unproductive through no fault of their own?

Richard Walthew

Whitsome Crofts

Duns

SECRETIVE AND DECEITFUL

On Wednesday night last week, I attended a meeting in Kelso where the main speaker was a Mr Clive Ponting.

For those who may not know, Mr Ponting was a high-ranking and loyal civil servant for many years, advising senior ministers in the Conservative government of the day, including Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

In a wide-ranging and revealing talk, to a large audience, he described how he became sickened and disillusioned by the secretive and high-handed way the Thatcher government was operating. Based on his inside knowledge, he went on to describe how the government went to excessive lengths to prevent the truth about the Falklands War from reaching the public domain.

To keep him from telling the truth, he was charged under the Official Secrets Act for bravely, and quite properly, supplying information to parliament. In spite of the full weight of the establishment (including the justice system) being brought to bear against him, a jury found him innocent – quite rightly, in my view.

He went on to warn all of us present how precious real democracy is, and how it is in serious danger from the current Conservative government which is prepared to do absolutely anything to mislead and ignore the people of Scotland, in order to maintain control.

Broken promises, misinformation peddled, meaningless vows, Grenfell Tower, the Windrush scandal, Universal Credit, the rape clause, and many more disgraceful policies, targeting the disabled, poor and elderly, all brought into sharp focus by the shambolic Brexit negotations – confirmation indeed of how deceitful and devious this arrogant and divisive Tory government is, and how it will say and do anything to get what it wants.

Surely Scotland can manage its own affairs better than this lot.

J. Fairgrieve

Gordon

STINGING NAZI GERMANY

The de Havilland Mosquito was one of the most remarkable aircraft ever built.

Entering service in 1941, it was one of the fastest aircraft in the world, powered by two iconic Rolls-Royce Merlin V12 super-charged engines, and made of wood. It was a multi-role combat aircraft which carried out numerous pin-point raids, such as that on Amiens prison to free French resistance fighters. But it was also a bomber which could carry a 4,000-pound “cookie”, a nightfighter and a pathfinder for the RAF’s main force of heavies as they took the war to Nazi Germany.

Of the Mosquito, Hermann Goering, head of the German Luftwaffe, said in 1943: “It makes me furious when I see a Mosquito. I turn green with envy.

“The British, who can afford aluminium better than we can, knock together a beautiful wooden aircraft that every piano factory over there is building, and they give it a speed which they have now increased yet again.

“What do you make of that? There is nothing the British do not have. They have the geniuses and we have the nincompoops.”

The 1964 film, 633 Squadron, whose aerial sequences were shot in the Scottish Highlands, did much to popularise this glamorous aircraft, but, alas, there is not one airworthy Mosquito left in the UK.

However, the Mosquito Pathfinder Trust is working to restore an aircraft to flying condition. It is presently being restored in New Zealand as it originally flew with RNZAF as serial number NZ2308, but with the help of the world-famous Aircraft Restoration Company, based at Duxford, will be returned to flying condition in the UK by 2020.

The Mosquito Pathfinder Trust is a charity depending on donations for the worthy cause of returning this magnificent aircraft to the skies over Britain once more.

It was the geniuses who designed it, the ground crews who serviced it and the courageous pilots and navigators who flew it who contributed to our ultimate victory over fascism which allows us to enjoy the freedom we take for granted today. William Loneskie

Oxton

MISSED TREATMENT TIME TARGETS

Health secretary Jeane Freeman’s announcement of a new plan to overcome problems with missed treatment waiting time targets at last suggests a willingness to be more honest about the failings of the SNP on this issue to date.

Clearly, when these targets were introduced back in 2012, there was insufficient thought given to how such promises could be met. Not for the first time the SNP leadership chose to make a grand announcement before having detailed plans in place to deliver on its commitments.

Tens of thousands of patients have suffered the consequences of longer waiting times over the last six years as a result, and apparently it will take nearly three years before the targets are more regularly being met. By then it will be approaching a decade since the SNP first gave its Treatment Time Guarantee.

This continued failure to deliver is the worst possible indictment of an SNP government where populist soundbites are so often prioritised over actual delivery.

Keith Howell

West Linton

RIDICULOUS ‘SMEAR CAMPAIGN’

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon needs to concentrate on Scotland – not Alex Salmond and sexual assault allegations.

No comment should be made until all legal due diligence is finalised, for all concerned.

Too much time is being spent by the First Minister on this matter, particularly when Mr Salmond’s supporters are blaming Westminster for a ridiculous “smear campaign”.

This crass comment, more than any other, may mean we are witnessing the demise of the Scottish National Party and single-issue politics.

Paul Singleton

Gordon

REFERENDUM RERUN QUESTION

Admittedly after some hesitation, Nicola Sturgeon has fully embraced the concept of a People’s Vote on Brexit.

Can the SNP leader therefore guarantee that were indyref2 ever to be held and, in the unlikely event that she won and by a slim majority, that she would wholly support unionist demands to revisit the result via the ballot box, and even potentially undermine it, should they wish to do so?

Martin Redfern

Edinburgh

ANIMALS ALSO SUFFERED GREATLY

This November marks 100 years since the end of the First World War.

On this anniversary, it’s so important that we remember the people and animals that lost their lives during this terrible conflict.

More than 16m horses, donkeys and other animals were made to serve during the war – transporting everything from ammunition and messages to food rations and supplies. They hauled guns and pulled ambulances, while cavalry horses often led the charge on the front line.

They faced unimaginable horrors – and, tragically, nine million of these animals were killed.

As we stop to remember those who suffered and died a century ago, we must also not forget that animals continue to be innocent victims in brutal conflicts across the world today.

In recent years, SPANA (Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) has worked in war zones – from Kosovo and Iraq to Afghanistan – to provide urgent veterinary treatment to animals in severe distress.

As we commemorate Armistice Day, it is a sad reality that this appalling suffering is not a distant memory, consigned to history. But while there are animals in desperate need, during times of war and peace, it is vital that help is on hand for them.

Geoffrey Dennis

(chief executive)

SPANA

WHEN IT PAYS NOT TO PRODUCE

Yet more subsidies are milked by the wind industry with a record £4.8m being paid in “constraint payments” on October 8 for companies switching off their turbines because there was too much electricity.

Owners received more than £100m a year not to produce electricity.

The present 3,335 turbines in Scotland is due to increase by another 2,957, and since turbines get priority on the grid, consumers will see electricity bills rocket, fuel poverty increase and winter deaths escalate.

A Scottish Government spokesman (spin doctor) said wind electricity was needed to “deliver the steep reductions in carbon emissions we so desperately need”. What, for Scotland’s miniscule 0.13% of global emissions?

The spin doctors and Scottish Renewables monotonously parrot that wind electricity is the cheapest form of electricity generation, but, when challenged, fail to provide any proof.

Meanwhile the rest of the world builds coal-fired power plants and burns fossil fuels.

Clark Cross

Linlithgow

GROW A BEARD TO BEAT BOWEL CANCER

I’m calling on dads, brothers, sons, nephews, grandads and uncles to grow a beard this December and raise money for Bowel Cancer UK.

Taking part in Decembeard is simple. All you need to do is clean shave on November 30 and let your facial fuzz grow throughout the month. Already bearded? No problem. Dye, ditch or decorate your beard and join the campaign.

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in men and the second biggest cancer killer in the UK.

However, it shouldn’t be. It’s treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early.

Grow a beard this December and raise funds to support vital services and life-saving research.

Sign up at bowelcanceruk.org.uk/decembeard

Jim Rosenthal

(sports broadcaster)