Your picture of the week

Looking towards the Cheviots as dawn breaks on New Year's Day, 2019.
Looking towards the Cheviots as dawn breaks on New Year's Day, 2019.

Curtis Welsh was up early on New Year’s Day to capture the breaking of dawn while training his lens towards the Cheviots.

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

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

BOOZE-BAN CASE STILL NOT MADE

I was amazed to read that Scottish Borders Council is still considering the prohibition of consumption of alcohol in designated public places (Southern, December 27).

The local authority previously tried to introduce by-laws in 2007 and 2014, but lacks evidence that drinking in a public place is a significant concern in our communities.

Councillor Scott Hamilton is right to warn that introducing by-laws will “be starting a process which barborously pushes back our freedoms and personal liberties”.

The proposed by-law map of Galashiels shows areas where alcohol may and may not be consumed in public: for example, drinking near the library is OK, but not across the road by the fountain. People recycling their empties in High Street, Asda or Tesco car parks will risk a £500 fine, under presumptions enshrined in the proposed by-law.

Councillor Stuart Bell is correct in calling for evidence that drinking in a public place causes problems, and that these problems cannot be addressed by existing means.

A far bigger issue faced by the police and NHS is binge drinking in premises licensed by the council.

Alastair Lings

Tweed Road

Galashiels

RESPONSIBILITY, BUT NOT FUNDING

Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP John Lamont recently expressed disappointment that the BBC was consulting on the possible dropping of free TV licences for the over-75s.

It is indeed a pity that his government decided to end this concession by giving the responsibility to the BBC, but not the funding.

Derek Russell

Whitsome

Duns

UNIONIST ARROGANCE

Martin Redfern (letters, January 3) describes Scotland’s desire for control of its own immigration policy as “nonsensical”.

In doing so he displays the usual Unionist arrogance that the needs of England are somehow more important than those any other member of his broken, dysfunctional Union. He goes on to suggest that because fewer foreign people stay in Scotland than in England, then therefore Scotland is a less attractive destination for immigrants.

Nothing is further from the truth.

His confused and wooly reasoning avoids the facts – i.e. the xenophobic “hostile environment” immigration policy instigated by Theresa May, and continued by the UK Home Office, persistently treats people disgracefully – decent, hard-working individuals and families who have chosen to live and work in Scotland, contributing to our society and economy.

The Home Office has a shameful track record of penalising and, even worse, deporting these people – the very people we in Scotland value and welcome, and, in fact, desperately need to grow our declining working population.

Incidentally, if Mr Redfern has concerns about a leaky English border after independence, perhaps he should emulate President Donald Trump and attempt to persuade his Unionist government to build a wall to keep all undesirables out of England.

Furthermore, Paul Singleton’s (letters, January 3) obvious and irrational fear of an independent Scotland running its own affairs, and his “Project Fear” predictions, simply underline the shaky foundations his beloved United Kingdom is clearly built on.

The times they are a-changing.

J. Fairgrieve

Gordon

EU NATIONALS A NET GAIN FOR UK

Can I gently remind Mark G. Kettrick, complaining about “uncontrolled” free movement of people within the EU (letters, December 27), that the pros and cons of free movement have already been studied in depth.

Recent work by Oxford Economics showed that EU nationals in Britain pay £2,300 more in tax and National Insurance contributions every year than the average British adult. Over a lifetime they pay £78,000 more into the benefits system and public services than they take out. Using 2016 as a measure, the study found that the net benefit to the UK treasury of EU immigration in one year was £19.3bn.

EU (and other) immigrants are not a burden on services like the NHS – they are a vital part of its delivery.

We don’t just need them in Scotland, we’re desperate for them to stay. Not only do they play a crucial part in the delivery of our essential services, they are also our neighbours, colleagues, family and friends.

I can only imagine how the nurse caring for a ward of sick children or carer looking after an elderly client felt after reading Mr Kettrick’s letter.

The rhetoric of the Leave campaign led to verbal and physical attacks on EU nationals in its wake, and it seems to me grossly irresponsible to be trying to reheat that particular deception now.

Brexit is nearly upon us and the UK is in crisis.

It’s hard to predict what the next few months will bring, but whatever happens, please don’t let us allow ourselves to be turned against other decent, hard-working, innocent people, to whom we owe so much, as a result of inflammatory, irresponsible ignorance.

There, I can say the ‘I’ word too.

Eric Falconer

High Road

Galashiels

ZERO INFLUENCE IN BRUSSELS

In our 45 years of membership of the European Economic Community/European Community/European Union (which changes we were never consulted about) no British government (of whichever persuasion) has ever achieved any reform of the bloc and yet Remainers still talk of reforming the organisation, not least of them Tony Blair.

Should these anti-democrats succeed in overturning the decision of the British people to leave the EU, do they really believe Britain will have any influence in Brussels?

We will be told that we had our chance and blew it and from now on we should take what we get and shut up. Can you not just picture Guy Verhofstadt, chief Brexit representative for the European Parliament, laughing his head off if Britain does not leave? We will have zero influence.

The only way to honour the result of the 2016 referendum and to preserve our democracy is to leave at the end of March on World Trade Organisation rules.

Do you ever wonder why George Soros wishes us to remain in the EU?

He is no fan of the EU but, like his cronies and masters, he sees it as a stepping stone to the real aim of a world government.

C. Beagrie

Tweedbank

SAVING THE UK MORE IMPORTANT

As Prime Minister Theresa May’s team draws up plans to get support for her deal with Brussels in a vote on January 15 by asking the European Court of Justice to issue legal guidance that the Northern Ireland backstop is “temporary”, why is the Westminster government still so undecided?

Because Mrs May is playing for time to find a solution (via Remainer Oliver Robbins, her senior Brexit adviser to two major problems – the single market and the customs union.

Although solutions can be proven, they fail to find a solution to these problems because they don’t want to completely leave the EU. These same problems would have been solved long ago if true Brexiteers were given major control and not shelved by the Prime Minister and her (all chosen Remainer) advisers.

As the two items in question are far from a full Brexit and still keep our hands tied to the EU, many Remainers will regard this outcome as a good compromise. This would scupper First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s claim for independence. Saving the sovereign United Kingdom has always been more important to this and most other Westminster governments than Brexit.

What of the referendum promise to the electorate? Not a hope – just compromise.

In this scenario the best deal is no deal and a clean break away from these overpaid unelected European mandarins.

For the sake of the future of the UK, don’t let the Remainers win over what already has been democratically decided by referendum. That is something history will never forgive.

We can do much better than this before the UK is due to leave the EU on March 29 and perhaps some form of civil action should be considered. Let members of the Westminster government show some courage for a change without fearing for their jobs and reputations.

They will not have anything left anyway if Jeremy Corbyn and Sturgeon come to power.

Paul Singleton

Gordon

EWAN FOCUSES ON AGRICULTURE

I was born with cerebral palsy, but it never stopped me going out on the farm with my dad at Sandyknowe, Kelso, when I was a wee laddie.

Agriculture and farming are in my blood and after leaving school I was involved in farming all my working life. I loved working on farms and I was an active member of the Young Farmers back in the day.

However, in 2011, while working as foreman/tractor driver at Charlesfield, St Boswells, all this changed suddenly. I was rushed to hospital with a heart condition called cardiomyopathy.

After being diagnosed with this doctors broke the devastating news that this would mean that I would have to give up farming.

Since then I have taken up photography as a hobby and really enjoy getting out and about in the Borders taking landscape photographs. It has been a very tough mental transition from doing something that I loved to being totally frustrated at not being able to do it any more. The photography, at the very least, helps me see farms, fields, landscapes, crops growing, so is my link to what I used to do and love.

Some days I struggle to get out due to my condition which means adverse weather, such as strong wind, leaves me short of breath and would put extra strain on my heart. On the days I do get out, I take photographs each month and at the end of year make a calendar, which I sell to my friends and family. These are always popular gifts.

I have attended a photography course run by Borders College and am an active member of the Morebattle Camera Club (running their Facebook account for them).

I would love to be able to combine my love of farming with my photography and wondered if there was anything readers could help me with, or put me in touch with someone. I did have an idea of photographing a ‘Year in the life of the farmer’, but have lost a lot of my old farming contacts and friends, so don’t know anyone who could accommodate this.

Ewan Dickson

Morebattle

NATIONALISTS’ TACTICAL BLUNDER?

While we face great uncertainty over the year ahead, there are some things we can be sure of.

As we start the 12th new calendar year since the SNP came to power, none but the most faithful of its supporters can be under any illusions as to what to expect from the party over the coming 12 months.

Prioritising grievance against the UK above all else, the SNP will dismiss criticism of its all-too-obvious shortcomings in the governance of our critical public services. It will once again resort to blaming others for its own failings.

Ironically, while the SNP maintains its hold on power primarily by agitating on constitutional matters, its latest tactic of linking remaining in the EU with leaving the UK could prove to be its undoing. Divisions over the EU have damaged other parties, and the SNP might yet learn the folly of aligning itself at any cost with the EU’s ever-closer union project.

Keith Howell

West Linton

UK TAXPAYERS’ LARGESSE

So, the SNP administration is set to increase child benefit in Scotland by £5 per week per child at an annual cost of £256million.

Thank goodness for the generosity of the Barnett Formula and the largesse of taxpayers across the entire UK, enabling initiatives such as these to take place.

What a shame Nicola Sturgeon seems to have such difficulty in acknowledging this.

Martin Redfern

Edinburgh