Your picture of the week

Kirkhope Tower in the Ettrick Valley, once derelict, but now converted to a family home.
Kirkhope Tower in the Ettrick Valley, once derelict, but now converted to a family home.

Dougie Methven supplied this image of Kirkhope Tower in the Ettrick Valley, once derelict, but now converted to a family home.

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

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

CHANGE AND CONSERVATION

Well done, Kirk Kirchev. It was good to read last week’s report of his committed work in saving Kelso’s North Trinity Church and finding a new purpose for the Victorian building nicely illustrated on your front page.

If I can borrow a phrase from your ‘Comment’ in the same issue which also concerns the theme of change: “We can always make new memories, but we would also like to keep some of the old ones.”

What goes for memories also goes for buildings. Change and conservation go together.

Douglas Hunter

Ancrum

NO-DEAL DISASTER LOOMS ON HORIZON

I am grateful to William Loneskie for taking the time out of his 13-paragraph rant last week to describe me as “Mr Angry”, after I challenged the views in his previous week’s letter on Brexit (sorry, launched a “personal attack” on him).

To be described as “Mr Angry” by Mr Loneskie of all people is surely worthy of an award (do they do irony awards?).

Brexit is serious, and a no-deal Brexit is potentially catastrophic. Serious commentators are pretty much unanimous on the subject.

Scotland’s top economic adviser says a no-deal Brexit puts 100,000 jobs at risk. The CBI warns it will do “irreparable harm to the UK economy”. CBI Scotland predicts a “multi-million pound blow to Scottish economy”. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders fears it risks “destroying Britain’s car industry”. The NFU president describes the prospect as “savage”.

Food retailers point out that stockpiling fresh food is impossible, and warn of higher prices and empty shelves. The UK government’s own figures point to the UK economy shrinking under any Brexit, but massively under no-deal.

The EU economy commissioner has stated that checks on goods would begin immediately. There will be more bureaucracy and costs for everyone, with the need for import/export licences, customs formalities and duties taking into account the more restrictive VAT arrangements if World Trade Organisation rules come into effect.

These people (and many, many more) are issuing serious warnings about the path the UK government is taking (or, I suppose, as Mr Loneskie sees it, launching “personal attacks” on Mr Loneskie).

We ignore this at our peril. As I write, Theresa May has intervened decisively yet again to postpone decision time, and our own MP is, of course, posted missing.

Never mind, that lovely Jacob Rees-Mogg is keenly looking forward to having the UK flooded with cheap foreign imports while our manufacturers and food producers face tariffs, and also having our environmental and safety standards cut back dramatically.

This is the man who still appears to be leading the UK government by the nose. If this isn’t the very definition of madness, then I don’t know what is.

Eric Falconer

High Road

Galashiels

THE BENEFITS OF LIFE IN SCOTLAND

It has been striking to note sections of the media and opposition politicians claiming that those paying higher taxes as a result of the Scottish budget will be packing up their estate cars and heading south.

But let’s put some perspective on this. The fact that someone on £45,000 p.a. is paying an additional £2.50 more per week than their counterparts south of the border, or even someone on £150,000 coughing up an additional £51 weekly, is not going to create a mass exodus of middle and higher-rate taxpayers heading to Berwick.

The budget proposals also mean that everyone earning under £27,000 in Scotland – about 55% of taxpayers – will pay less income tax than those on the same salary elsewhere in the UK.

Let us also not forget that those who will pay these moderate tax increase are the same people who enjoy considerable universal benefits not enjoyed by those south of the border. These include free prescription charges (£8.80 in England), eye tests (£20-£25 in England), university education (£9,500 per year in England), elderly bus passes and elderly care.

With house prices lower in Scotland and a better quality of living and public services, these limited tax rises for the services obtained provide excellent value for money.

Far from those being driven away, this progressive budget will attract people here. It is more palatable and attractive to work in a better-funded health and education system than an underfunded one.

There is no magic money tree and if we are to deliver a decent society, where the poor are given the chance to prosper, public services are invested in and jobs and infrastructure created, we need to pay for it. The progressive tax system delivered through this budget does just that.

Alex Orr

Leamington Terrace

Edinburgh

ECONOMICALLY ILLITERATE

I have read the most incredible statement from a politician.

Kate Forbes, Scotland’s public finance minister, said that the SNP’s new income tax increases would “raise £11.5bn to help boost the economy and provide investment for public services”.

There’s not a country in the world where I have seen it claimed that tax increases would boost economies – on the contrary, higher taxes stifle a county’s economy.

Where does Scotland get such economically-illiterate politicians?

G. M. Lindsay

Kinross

GRANDFATHER’S DESCENDANTS

I have been tracing my ancestral family tree and discovered that my grandfather, George Waldie, was born (1877) and bred in Hawick. He also died there, in 1967.

I am hoping to trace any of his descendants who still reside in Hawick.

Anyone who is able to help can contact me via alan.fothergill18@outlook.com

Anne Fothergill

independence

NO LEADERSHIP QUALITIES

Nicola Sturgeon and “family” are seeking the first opportunity for Indyref2.

The 55% who voted ‘no’ in the 2014 independence referendum have no reason to change their minds.

The best thing ever for the Conservative government at Westminster is First Minister Sturgeon and UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

They show no leadership qualities and no promise for the future. They will never find the “right time” to hold another referendum. Hopefully, they will stay longer in power to allow the Conservative government, albeit with its own problems, to satisfy all dissenters.

A vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Theresa May should be served if no agreement is found by the end of this month. Mrs May and Oliver Robbins (her chief Brexit adviser) have always been remainers and hope to retain the single market and customs union in the final Brexit agreement, and will take it all the way to the wire for that outcome.

Paul Singleton

Gordon

CAMPAIGNING FOR REFORM

As we discover more about dementia and develop a better understanding of the disease processes which cause it, it’s crucial that we reflect on how we respond to the needs of people living with this progressive terminal illness.

Our improving understanding is not reflected in current policy and practice; the increasing health care needs of people with advanced dementia are too often not recognised or met. Every day, people living with advanced dementia, their carers and their families are dealing with a complexity of physical, emotional and psychological challenges, and ever-changing health care needs.

However, people with advanced dementia do not receive the health care they should be entitled and instead face significant social care charges.

Alzheimer Scotland’s Fair Dementia Care campaign calls for a number of reforms. To join it, visit www.alzscot.org/fairdementiacare. We would also encourage anyone who has experienced issues in accessing the care they need for advanced dementia to email publicpolicy@alzscot.org.

Jim Pearson

(director of policy and

research)

Alzheimer Scotland

PUTT YOUR WEIGHT BEHIND THIS CAUSE

If you love a game of golf, then why not pitch in for a good cause this year?

Par for Parkinson’s is a fundraiser that gives you the opportunity to create your own golfing event to raise vital funds for Parkinson’s UK. Whether you want to organise a golf competition, take on a Three Course Challenge, or hold a golf quiz night, there’s something for all golf fans.

The money raised for Par for Parkinson’s will fund our research to help find a cure and improve the lives of people with Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition that affects 12,400 people in Scotland.

We are the leading charity driving better care, treatments and quality of life for those with the condition. Our mission is to find a cure and improve life for everyone affected by Parkinson’s through cutting-edge research, information, support and campaigning. There are more than 40 symptoms of the condition. As well as the most widely-known symptom – tremor – there are other symptoms like muscle stiffness, depression, anxiety, hallucinations, memory problems and dementia. Parkinson’s affects everyone differently.

To find out how you can take part in Par for Parkinson’s and make a difference, then please visit www.parkinsons.org.uk/golf

Jan Mattison

(west of Scotland regional

fundraiser)

Parkinson’s UK

STEPPING OUT TO TACKLE DISEASE

Every 10 minutes, someone is told the devastating news they have breast cancer.

Your readers can support people living with and beyond a diagnosis by signing up for a Breast Cancer Care Pink Ribbon Walk in association with Skechers.

There are three ways to get involved.

Join hundreds of people from across the UK and walk with us on our 10 and 20-mile routes at Blenheim Palace and the Cotswolds on Saturday, May 18, or at Chatsworth and the Peak District on Saturday, June 15.

Alternatively, walk your way and create your own walking challenge. Set the date, choose your location and come together with friends and family.

Or walk 500,000 steps during May and June – that’s one step for every woman living with breast cancer in the United Kingdom.

However you take part, all money raised will help the charity provide support for today and hope for the future for the 691,000 people living with breast cancer in the UK today. As little as £30 could give someone the specialist information and support when they need it most through the Breast Cancer Care Helpline. To sign up, visit www.breastcancercare.org.uk/ribbonwalk.

Preena Mistry

(Pink Ribbon Walk manager) Breast Cancer Care

Brixton Road

London

TURNING OFF THE GAS

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) in a new report, ‘UK housing: Fit for the future?’, has warned the Westminster government that it must act now to improve the quality of UK homes “to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.

The CCC recommends “from 2025, at the latest, no new homes should be connected to the gas grid”.

The government has already indicated that cooking and heating will be banned in England from 2050. (Scotland 2032). There are 23 million British homes using gas, so when gas appliances are thrown out there will be an awful lot of expensive landfill.

Taxpayers already pay £8.6bn every year in punitive green taxes, including Drax, which burns wood chips all the way from America. Drax received subsidies of £729m in 2017.

This madness is a response to a UK legally-binding commitment to cut greenhouse gas levels by 80% by 2050. Meanwhile the rest of the world, with no legally-binding climate change acts, continues to burn fossil fuels and drive petrol/diesel vehicles.

All this unjustifiable expense for the UK’s 1.3% of global emissions.

Clark Cross

Linlithgow