Dougie Methven took this image of a solitary bunch of daffodils braving bitingly-cold wind at Loch of the Lowes.
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
ROUGH RIDE FOR THE MOTORIST
Surely one of the areas which should receive funding under the Borderlands growth deal is road improvement – in particular, the A68, A7 and A697 require resurfacing.
In the 21st century we should expect smooth, quiet main roads.
The A697 is a disgrace with crumbling edges and a myriad of patchings. The eastern stretch in Greenlaw has been resurfaced, but the western side is a mosaic of undulations, while in Coldstream the motorist has to negotiate bumps and numerous manhole covers.
The A7 from the M6 interchange through Longtown is poorly surfaced, and north of the border to Hollows has over 100 ridges running across it.
Sections of the A68 north and south of Lauder have been resurfaced with a noisy topcoat which came with a longitudal raised ridge that could possibly initiate flutter or weave in motorcycles.
The A1 south of Berwick is still single carriageway, yet the A9, which carries a fraction of the A1’s traffic, is being dualled from Perth to Inverness (no wonder folk in England are beginning to question the Barnett Formula which awards each man, woman and child £1,600 per annum in public expenditure just for living in Scotland).
I see Amey has been kerbing and tarmacing lay-bys on the A68 and A7. Let’s hope it turns its attention to the actual carriageway.
We regularly hear about the need to extend the railway to Carlisle, but road improvement should have a higher priority. Rail receives over 50% of the transport budget, but carries only 10% of passenger miles and less than 5% of freight. Over 80% of passenger miles are by cars and taxis, and roads carry over 90% of freight.
But the HS2 monstrosity will, by latest estimates, cost over £100bn and carry no freight at all. Rail privatisation has been a burden on the British taxpayer. ScotRail returns profits to the Dutch state railway, its owner, while taxpayers fund it here.
If we want an efficient railway it should be a national one using a single timetable from Wick to Penzance. It would be sensible for the next Conservative leader to adopt rail nationalisation as party policy because a national network pulls the Union together, while privatisation splits it apart.
Road users pay over £50bn in VAT, vehicle excise duty (road tax) and fuel duty. Motorists are being unfairly hit, while rail users are vastly subsidised.
This month the road fund licence increases again, with some motorists paying over £500 a year. Some new cars are charged as much as £2,135 in the first year for vehicle excise duty.
Meanwhile, diesel prices are going through the roof. The hard-working diesel engine is being demonised by the loons of the Green party and their virtue-signalling fellow travellers, when in fact the modern diesel is clean and efficient.
In addition, we in Scotland are to be hit by the SNP’s car parking tax which, given time if they are not booted out at the next election, will become a supermarket parking tax too. Mind you, what can we expect when SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon cannot drive at all?
BEDECKED IN TARTAN AT GALA
I am currently doing research regarding the Volunteer Hall, Galashiels.
I believe tartan has been used to decorate the outside of the building in respect of a few special occasions. I am trying to find out during what years this happened and what the events were.
I would be indebted to any of your readers who could supply me with this information, and to this end I can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org
A CONTEMPTIBLE EPISODE
Part of Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech on March 27 in the House of Commons was: “I know how people are worried that if you vote for the withdrawal agreement, I will take that as a mandate to rush into phase two without the debate we need to have. I won’t – I hear what you are saying. But we have to get the deal through and deliver Brexit.”
She wants the withdrawal agreement delivered for historic reasons as “the Prime Minister who delivered Brexit”.
Part two will also be delivered very soon afterwards, without debate, because she knows she would lose. This contemptible episode will also go down in history as one of the most important betrayals in political government.
Also culpable are Labour leader Jeremy Corbin and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
A vote of no confidence should be served for gross lack of leadership when required.
SCOTLAND’S ROLE IN THE UK
The SNP and its supporters often make the point that remaining in the EU would offer us a range of economic, social and environmental benefits.
Yet apparently the same SNP supporters ignore what for them is presumably an inconvenient fact, namely that these same advantages and more apply to a deeper and more meaningful extent, in relation to Scotland’s place in the UK.
As we leave the EU, the critical advantages of Scotland’s positive and interdependent role in the UK are surely all the more valuable?
FOCUS ON LATE FATHER-IN-LAW
I have been trying, in vain so far, to find photographs of my late father-in-law, Robert (Squeak) Morrison.
He passed away during the early 1960s. At that time he was working at Kings of Earlston where he initially drove a steam roadroller then moved onto a diesel. He was one of the workmen who made the new road into the Hirsel at Coldstream and I’ve often wondered if there was any pictures taken then.
During the war he worked in the fields on machinery. He was unable to serve as he was blind in one eye.
He was born and brought up in Berwick, and had family on both sides of the border.
50 Kingfisher Grove
Galashiels TD1 2QH
(phone: 07775 556709; email: email@example.com)
IS ALL WELL IN THE UNITED KINGDOM?
To complete MP John Lamont’s economic state of the union column from last week’s edition :
1. Child poverty in the UK has gone up by 200,000 in the last year, taking the total up to 4m. The parents of 70% of these children are in employment.
2. Almost 8m working people rely on benefits to top up their wages.
3. Over 4m people in the UK are reliant on food banks.
4. MPs will receive a £2,089 pay rise on Monday, May 1, 2019.
So all is well.
BHF COFFEE MORNING CASH
The Kelso British Heart Foundation (BHF) fundraising group would like to extend its thanks and gratitude to the locals who came along to support its annual coffee morning held in Kelso North Parish Church on Saturday, February 16.
We would also like to thank the members of the church who helped on the day, together with all the supporters who brought along home baking, jams, pickles and raffle prizes.
You helped us raise an amazing £438.14.
PENSIONERS AND THE TRUTH
The date September 18, 2014, is still one that rankles with many Scottish citizens.
It is the date when many Scots voted to remain thirled to Westminster, to be ruled and overruled by MPs from the leafy lanes and shires, or from the London bubble who have absolutely no idea of what Scotland wants and needs.
And as we have recently seen, they have no compunction about braying their opinions from the benches of the Commons or on the screens of national television.
Research has shown that many pensioners voted Remain and voted this way after being told, among other untruths, that their pensions were in danger.
With the likelihood of another independence referendum on the horizon, it is important that pensioners get fully briefed on the misinformation that is surely going to come our way.
There is in Scotland a movement called ‘Pensioners for Independence’ – non-party political and committed to finding and passing on the truth about independence. Here in Selkirk we are setting up a local group and we hope to establish a public presence very soon. Can I ask Souter pensioners when they see our stall to just stop and have a blether, and if they have queries or issues to tell us and we will try to help.
I reiterate that this group is non-party political and we welcome all-comers to join us .
(tel: 01750 721407)
MAKING A POINT ABOUT CHARGING
In the rush by politicians to be “seen to be green”, it is the taxpayer and motorist who suffer.
Thinking that the UK’s electric cars can save the planet is laughable when there are 1.2bn petrol/diesel vehicles in the world and only 37.5m in the UK (Scotland 2.9m).
Looking through their green-tinted glasses, local authorities and government departments have rushed to install expensive charging points for electric vehicles, and the majority provide this electricity free of charge. Does your council provide free electricity?
Why should taxpayers who cannot afford a new car, far less an electric one, pay?
Any competent government would have put the burden for the installation network costs onto those companies which manufacturer electric vehicles, perhaps as a charge (no pun intended) for every car sold.
In addition, someone who can afford an electric car should pay a connection levy and not get a government grant of up to £4,500 on his/her vehicle.
SINKING THE SEA ICE ARGUMENT
Man-made global warming is in the news again with semi-naked protesters raiding the Commons on Monday, and 180 climate “scientists” flying from around the world to Edinburgh to plan their next move.
Yet more real data has recently emerged to challenge their beliefs. Information from National Snow and Ice Data Center reveals that, in a list of lowest maximum Arctic sea ice extents, 2019 had more Arctic sea ice than 2007 or 2006.
This goes against many predictions of disappearing Arctic sea ice.
For example, Professor Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge University, in 2012 predicted a collapse of the Arctic ice sheet by 2015-16.
I can’t wait to hear their excuses.
YOUR FREE PENSION CREDIT CHECK
Thousands of poorer UK pensioners who have partners of working age could be about to lose up to £7,000 a year.
From May 15, new pensioners whose partners are younger than the state retirement age of 65 will no longer be able to make a new claim for pension credit.
Instead, they will have to claim the less-generous Universal Credit. So, if you have ever wondered if you could be eligible for pension credit, now is the time to find out or it might be too late.
Benefitanswers are offering a free check which will tell you if you could be entitled to pension credit. For your free check, telephone 0330 223 4773.
Benefit Information Services
CAPTURE ARMY LIFE IN A PHOTOGRAPH
As ABF The Soldiers’ Charity (formerly known as The Army Benevolent Fund) enters its 75th year, it is once again looking for amateur and professional photographers to capture images which showcase different aspects of life in the British Army.
The competition closes on April 30 and all information can be found on the soldierscharity.org website.
This year’s judges include writer, broadcaster and actor Gyles Brandreth; BBC R2’s Drivetime show host Sara Cox; Member of the British Army’s 2018 Ice Maiden team, Major Sandy Hennis; host of Afternoon Live on BBC, Simon McCoy, and TV presenter and creator of the History Hit Network and TV streaming channel, Dan Snow. The top 12 entries will feature in The Soldiers’ Charity’s 2020 calendar, with first place securing the front cover.
The Soldiers’ Charity photo competition is an amazing opportunity for both amateur and professional photographers to exhibit their work. We encourage everyone to get involved – you don’t need a professional camera, your smartphone is good enough.
Major General (Ret’d)
(chief executive, ABF The