Your picture of the week

Whitslaid Tower ruins, just south of Lauder.
Whitslaid Tower ruins, just south of Lauder.

Curtis Welsh supplied this image of the ruin of Whitslaid Tower, just south of Lauder.

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

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

SIGNS APLENTY OF BAD DRIVING

I was disappointed, bordering on anger, with the headline, ‘Calls for new safety signs on A7 follow fatal accident’ in last week’s Southern.

I travel to Edinburgh early morning and back in the evening to Galashiels using the A7 every working day.

The standard of driving on the road has to be seen to be believed. It is treated by some people as a racetrack.

For example – overtaking within the 40mph zone going out of Galashiels; overtaking within the 30mph zone going out of Stow; overtaking approaching corners; tailgating to a shocking degree.

There was an experience I had recently when I was at the head of a group of six vehicles on the Fountainhall straight. This was at 6.20am. I was travelling at 58mph and the sixth car, which was a small Peugeot, decided to start overtaking. There was a sufficient gap between me an the second vehicle for the Peugeot to pull in safely before the quarry corner.

But no, they kept on going and actually overtook me half-way round the corner. I looked across and saw a young female driver. At any point during that overtaking manoeuvre, had there been a vehicle coming in the opposite direction, there would have been absolute carnage.

Who do these people think they are? They have no consideration whatsoever for other road users. With their aggressive, arrogant and selfish manner, they have an attitude of “how dare you slow me down”.

Presumably these idiots have families, and therefore a lot of good they would be to their families if they were six feet under the ground, never mind the innocent road users they would take with them.

Borders MSP Rachael Hamilton was quoted as saying: “New signage could inform drivers of the number of accidents and fatalities on the road in a hope that it will enact behavioural change.”

I can tell her honestly and wholeheartedly that no amount of signage will enact any behavioural change.

I have a clear and simple solution. How about drivers taking personal responsibility for their own behaviour? Now there’s a novelty. Do I think that it is going to happen? Well, as they say in these parts: “Ah hae ma doots.” I for one will certainly not be holding my breath for it to happen any time soon.

Bill Rutherford

Halliburton Place

Galashiels

TAKING ON THE SBC MANDARINS

Re last week’s letter from Tony Rae about the naming of the new Jedburgh school, let me, as chairman of the Royal Burgh of Jedburgh Community Council, set the record straight with regards to the sequence of events and the authority of whom the naming of the school lies.

Residents of Jedburgh were asked to put forward suggestions as to what the new school should be called. Scottish Borders Council (SBC) received 125 responses, comprising of almost 100 different suggestions. These ranged from the amusing/absurd Campus McCampusface to historical references which may honour some former residents of the town.

At no time until March 20 were community councillors kept abreast of developments with regards to the naming of the new school until I was invited, as chairman, to attend a meeting to whittle down the suggestions received to a proposed shortlist of three from the eight that SBC officers had chosen. These officers did not want the word ‘grammar’ to appear in any of the three names, nor did they wish to have the word ‘school’ within the shortlisted names, and I quote, “....As part of the discussions with government regarding the concept and funding of the campus, it was agreed that this was not just a school and that school would not be an appropriate name….”.

They forget, however, that it’s our new school and not theirs.

All three SBC councillors who represent Jedburgh were in attendance at that meeting, along with officers from the education, legal and communications departments. Education and legal officers were adamant that the word ‘grammar’ or ‘school’ were not to be used.

However, all three SBC councillors and myself were unhappy with this scenario and demanded that at least one further entry of ‘Jedburgh Grammar Campus’ be included in the voting shortlist for the final public vote. This was as far as officers were willing to go.

A further 10 weeks passed before there were any communications received from the senior education officer at SBC, despite numerous emails from the community council and the three SBC members, and an open question at an SBC full council meeting. SBC then not only ignored the March 20 meeting, but also the concerns of the three elected Jedburgh members, and the wishes of the townsfolk and their community council – at least not until there were strongly-worded emails back to SBC by the SBC councillors and myself.

It is my opinion that SBC tried very late in the day to put forward only three names on the shortlist and if councillors had not spotted a communication late on Sunday, May 26, then SBC would surely have launched the final phase of voting for a name with only three choices, these being: Jedburgh Campus, Jedburgh Joint Campus and Jedburgh Community Campus.

The Royal Burgh of Jedburgh Community Council is made up of 11 well-known and hard-working individuals who reside in the town. If Mr Rae had taken the time to either contact myself or any of the other 10 community councillors, or alternatively contact the several media platforms that we are very proud of, I’m sure that all of the above would have been explained.

Instead, misinformation has now been publicised and has caused slight consternation within Jedburgh.

We have been trying hard over the past 24 months or so to keep the residents of our town up to date with all information concerning the new school when it has been given to us by either the local authority or the contractors.

We did not shortlist the names for the town’s new school, but actually fought hard, along with Jedburgh’s SBC members, to include the word ‘grammar’ in the final shortlisting exercise.

Rory Stewart

BEMOANING ‘PULL IT DOWN’ POLICY

Your report last week concerning renovation plans in Jedburgh (‘Demolition about to yield £75k boost for town centre’) gives an insight into the ongoing financial challenges involved in preserving

our historic town centres.

In their own wee way the characterful old streets of Scottish towns are as deserving of protection as famous international attractions like Notre Dame in Paris.

Jedburgh’s heritage continues to be an asset, but requires much more robust care.

Some of us still hope the CARS (conservation area regeneration scheme) initiative might actually deliver this.

Sadly, it’s a human habit to take familiar things for granted. It sometimes seems that the default strategy of a vocal minority, when confronted with the stewardship of old buildings, is “pull it down”.

Douglas Hunter

Ancrum

EXTREMIST POLITICS

You should not be allowed to slip in an implicit, sloppy smear against a political activist you clearly do not know (‘Town a state of independence as marchers meet’, June 6).

Alistair McConnachie, you note, was “reportedly thrown out of the UK Independence Party for his extremist views”.

As I remember it, he was one of the earliest supporters of the party, post-Alan Sked, the founder; and, as its main representative in Scotland, was faced with a dilemma in its initial schism. He had to choose which faction to go with down south, and having carefully considered the matter, he backed Craig Mackinlay’s, the moderate. He was on the losing side.

Since that leader is now a Conservative MP, having personally faced down Nigel Farage, it would appear that your view is the Conservative party is extremist.

Where does that leave your esteemed contributor, John Lamont MP?

Iain McGregor

Inch Gardens

Kelso

OPERATING LIKE A WELL-OILED MACHINE

I recently had a medical problem which ultimately required surgery at Borders General Hospital.

Over the course of a few days I was dealt with by the 111 service, paramedics, my GP, and specialists, surgeon, anaesthetist and nurses at the hospital.

You hear so many bad stories and so much negativity about the NHS, but my experience was completely positive from beginning to end. The ambulance arrived within three minutes of being called, my GP saw me at 10am the next day, there was a bed waiting for me when I arrived at the hospital and the surgery happened the next day. It was a well-oiled machine.

Everyone with whom I came into contact was very professional and my treatment was exemplary – and I saw all the other patients on the ward being treated the same way. Even the ward cleaning was very good.

I would like to thank everyone involved in my treatment, and I believe the NHS should be celebrated, especially here in the Borders.

Robert Dickinson

David Hume View

Chirnside

THE PERILS OF ALARMISM

Neil Bryce (letters, June 6) is right to challenge the climate alarmists.

Professional alarmists champion the strange schoolgirl (Greta Thunberg) with Asperger’s from Sweden, feted by important people who wish to join in virtue signalling and claim that there is “a climate emergency”. No there isn’t. The climate is doing just fine.

They say schoolchildren walking out to protest against climate change are “brave”. No they aren’t. They are misguided and cause disruption to their own and others’ education.

The eco-loons don’t believe that closing our coal and gas power stations will substantially increase electricity costs.

Yes it will. Nowhere is the climate change fiasco more apparent than at the huge former coal-fired power station Drax in North Yorkshire. Surrounded by millions of tons of high-quality coal, it now burns low-calorific wood chips – which emit more CO2 than coal – from North American forests, causing real environmental harm and huge transport costs, while receiving over £700m annually in taxpayers’ subsidy every year to do so.

The loons insist we leave coal in the ground. To make steel you need coking coal. To make wind subsidy-generators’ towers you need steel. You cannot do without steel in a myriad of applications – from warships to artics. You cannot do without coal.

Actress Emma Thompson jetted in from Los Angeles to join the green maniacs (“climate change protesters”) in London so that she could be pictured in a pink boat.

In their wake, Ms Thompson’s acolytes caused much traffic congestion which increased air pollution, and left a mess for council workers to clean up – so some consistency there.

“Saving the planet” apparently means using long-haul aircraft, increasing CO2, and leaving litter, grafitti, smashed windows and public buildings reeking of urine behind. With friends like that (1,100 of whom have been charged with public order offences), does the planet need enemies? Now the eco-loons have morphed into eco-terrorists with plans to disrupt aviation by flying drones.

There is no “climate emergency” or “climate breakdown”. The Earth’s climate has always been changing and will continue to change long after humanity has disappeared from the planet.

The predictions of the alarmists have been proved wrong so often that sensible people are tiring of them.

In 1989 the UN caused fear by stating that “entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by 2000”. In 2006 Al Gore, now a carbon billionaire, warned: “We have less than 10 years to make dramatic changes in our global warming pollution.” In March 2009 Prince Charles said: “We have less than 100 months to alter our behaviour before we risk catastrophic climate change.”

There is no climate emergency, but there is a quasi-religion underpinned by huge subsidies. Completely decarbonising our economy – as the Greens, SNP, WWF, Friends of the Earth and Extinction Rebellion want – would reduce it to medieval levels.

Industry cannot function without the hard-working diesel engine – from compressors to container ships. Every wind machine requires large amounts of gearbox oil. Moreover, there are 649,000 households in Scotland in fuel poverty, including nearly 40% of rural households. Replacing gas and oil heating with electricity, as mandated by government legislation, will hugely increase fuel poverty.

Climate alarmism hugely undermines economic and social progress. It’s time for the silent majority to say “enough is enough”.

William Loneskie

Oxton

BEING CREDITED IN A NOVEL WAY

I am pleased to read that next year – the bicentenary of the death of James Davidson (1764-1820) – there is to be a celebration of his life.

At last James Davidson is being credited with inspiring the character Dandie Dinmont in Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Guy Mannering. And the two dogs which appear in the novel, Pepper and Mustard, were based on his two terriers.

It is also good to know that Francis Somner is not forgotten, the famous Dandie breeder who took over after James Davidson died.

Marjorie McLauchlan

Ladhope Drive

Galashiels