Your picture of the week

the three-arched bridge which carries the A68 over the River Teviot at Ancrum
the three-arched bridge which carries the A68 over the River Teviot at Ancrum

This image of the three-arched bridge which carries the A68 over the River Teviot at Ancrum was produced by Curtis Welsh.

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

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

CENTRALISATION SOLUTION TO CUTS

I see that our pathetic and pointless council’s latest wheeze to save another few coppers is to “decommission” children’s playgrounds – makes them sound like outdated nuclear plants.

So, Scottish Borders Council cannot afford highway repairs, road markings, floral displays, basic gardening, green waste collections etc. etc. Meanwhile, care home services are cut to the bone, and next in line will be what’s left of bin emptying.

None of the bean counters at Newtown seems yet to have thought of switching off all the street lights, but no doubt that contribution to ever more dangerous driving conditions will come shortly. Oh, and libraries, shut all those and sell them off for a song.

Meanwhile, the great ship of education sails serenely on, gobbling all before it.

I have made a short submission to a committee of the Scottish Government that is currently looking at the delivery (or not) of road maintenance, suggesting this is stripped away from local authorities and put in the hands of a single national body that will not constantly play the phoney cracked record of “unaffordability”.

With that gone, and education passed back to Holyrood, perhaps the council could then “decommission” itself and save us all a fair few bob.

Richard West

Inch Park

Kelso

ECONOMICS AND JED’S HERITAGE

Thanks to Kathryn Wylie for reporting Rob Armstrong’s revelations concerning the vandalism set shortly to afflict Jedburgh’s historic town centre (Southern, July 25).

The demolition of the prominent mid-Victorian building in the corner of Market Place (whose traditional Scottish “corbie stanes” roof details are currently hidden behind scaffolding) would simply be a needless mistake.

Hopefully, Mr Armstrong’s research will be noticed and followed up by our decision-makers, on the basis that sensible economics and Jedburgh’s valuable heritage can actually go hand-in-hand.

Douglas Hunter

Ancrum

CUTTING COMPLAINT

I live in Ednam. I love the Borders, but this year I am ashamed of the state the region’s paths and verges are in.

The Ferry Road, a public footpath, has not been cut this year – it is nigh impossible to get through the nettles and long grass.

I have written countless emails and even lodged a complaint with Scottish Borders Council, but to no avail.

How can the council be handing out grants to encourage tourism, yet can’t get the footpaths cut?

Lesley Condon

Ednam

A PARTY OF DOUBLE STANDARDS

For some of us who have a keen, maybe even dare I say slightly anorak interest in politics, we will have been aware that alongside the Conservative party leadership contest the Liberal Democrats were also having their leadership contest.

Remember them? – the nice, “left wing” party that wanted to abolish tuition fees, but then ditched that pledge to go into coalition with the Tories back in 2010, and then went on to support and defend the most right-wing Tory agenda Great Britain has ever seen in modern political times.

The Liberal Democrats have elected Jo Swinson as their new leader. She has failed to rule out a coalition with the Tories, but has completely ruled out a coalition with the Labour party which, under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, believes in social justice and equality, which the Lib Dems used to claim to support.

She is supporting another “people’s vote” on the UK’s relationship with the European Union because people did not really know what they were voting for back in 2016, or as some on the remain side claim, people who voted leave were too stupid to understand what they were voting for.

Jo Swinson claims to be a champion for “Stop Brexit”. But she thinks it’s fine for Scotland to be taken out of the EU, despite the fact the majority of the Scottish electorate voted to remain. And don’t even think about mentioning another Scottish independence referendum – the Lib Dems are completely against that, although the Scottish electorate voted for a party (SNP) which pledged to hold another independence referendum if Scotland was being taking out of Europe against her will.

The saying “having your cake and eating it” comes to mind, but I much prefer to describe the Liberal Democrats as a party of sheer hypocrisy and double standards, and has been so for a long time.

Mark G. Kettrick

Kirkbrae

Galashiels

POLE POSITION QUESTIONED

David Millar of Lauder Community Council claims that the concerns he has expressed “in the letters section on so many occasions ... is not about the rainbow flags and what they stand for, but the use by individuals of the town hall flagpoles” (letters, July 25).

His previous letters to the Southern make no mention of individuals using the flagpoles.

Mr Millar does question the priorities of Lauder Community Council, and describes the flying of rainbow flags as a “bit of piffle and pontificating”, “silly little statement”, “feeble nonsense” (letters, June 28, 2018); “a symbolic gesture”, “pontificating – and achieving nothing” (letters, July 26, 2018); and “gesturing on a subject created in someone’s mind” (letters August 16, 2018).

Alastair Lings

Tweed Road

Galashiels

SMALL, THRIVING COUNTRIES

We have just returned from a holiday in Slovenia – a prosperous country with a strong commitment to the environment and obviously open and outward looking.

It’s a small country with a population half that of Scotland. It seems there are 12 countries in the EU with populations equal to or less than that of Scotland and they are thriving, despite having nothing like the resources we have.

Why on earth, when we in the south of Scotland and indeed throughout Scotland voted to remain in the EU, are we being dragged out against our will?

In this area, the harm of all this self-inflicted chaos we didn’t vote for will hit us hard. Our farmers and local businesses must look at these small prosperous EU countries and wonder.

Stuart Campbell

Hamilton Place

Moffat

EU FEARS MORE DIVORCE REQUESTS

Why these die-hard decisions from the European Union not to budge on our Brexit policies?

Partly because of three years of chronic indecision from Remainers Teresa May and Oliver Robbins, her chief Brexit adviser.

The real overwhelming reason doesn’t involve the UK at all. It’s because the EU fears that other countries among its 27 members might also request a divorce.

This creates an irrevocable precedent here in the UK for the EU.

No applications from our four nations for independence should be entertained by our new Prime Minister. This would only create more tension and weaken our strength as a United Kingdom.

We will need to be united for political and fiscal strength, particularly in Scotland where the nationalists have the worst Gross Domestic Product (GDP) deficit in Europe and cannot fiscally survive alone

After Brexit all UK aid should be cancelled and used additionally to finance the NHS

Our sovereign United Kingdom will only succeed, after Brexit, united and not fragmented. Political safety is in numbers.

Paul Singleton

Gordon

PRIVATE PROFIT BAD FOR OUR HEALTH

As Boris (Johnson) and Donald (Trump) cosy up to do a trade deal, I’d like to remind them that I will not eat chlorinated chicken.

I will not eat meat fed with hormones and antibiotics as growth promoters. I am extremely suspicious of genetically-modified crops.

But all this pales into insignificance compared to my opposition to the selling of the most profitable parts of NHS Scotland for private profit.

I will not be told what is good for me by a man appointed by around 92,000 members of the Conservative party and I will do everything I can to oppose these policies.

Pete Rowberry

Winterfield Gardens

Duns

NOTHING TO FEAR FROM A WTO DEAL

Why so many people like Boris Johnson is that he brings a refreshing optimism to politics.

For too long we have had to listen to a collection of miseries – Theresa May, Phil Hammond, Dominic Grieve, Jeremy Corbyn, Mark Carney, Nicola Sturgeon and Ian Blackford – who make Huw Edwards (BBC news presenter) sound like a stand-up comedian. If they had been in charge in 1940 the official language of the UK would now be German.

Instead of talking Britain down, Boris realises our strengths as the fifth largest economy in the world, which has unmatched soft power, a military in the premier league, superb intelligence services, incredible research and development, a people blessed with outstanding skill, inventiveness, creativity and resolve, English as the international language, the world’s best universities, innovative culture and music, and close connections across the globe.

Such a nation has nothing to fear from a WTO (World Trade Organisation) Brexit; on the contrary, it is a golden opportunity to deepen and widen the UK’s global reach as the EU turns inwards to create its vaunted superstate, reducing member countries to regions.

It is absurd that Nicola Sturgeon wants Scots law, government, industry and commerce to be subsumed to unelected bureaucrats in Brussels, claiming that this represents independence when it is the opposite of independence.

Then we have the new leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinston, wanting to stop Brexit by all means, in spite of the EU referendum result, the largest democratic vote of its kind. Perhaps Ms Swinston intends to remove the word ‘Democrats’ from her party’s title.

Those who claim that leaving on WTO terms (“no deal”) would be “catastrophic” are the same people who told us that the very act of voting Leave would lead to an immediate recession and soaring unemployment.

What happened? The economy continued to grow, unemployment fell to a record low; wages are rising faster than prices, and inward investment is at a record high.

The doomsters were wrong then and are wrong now about leaving with a swift exit. The new Scottish Secretary, Alister Jack, is right when he says there would be no damage to the economy.

First, we are free of EU rules permanently and immediately. The backstop has gone. Northern Ireland continues to be in alignment with rest of the UK. Trade deals can be signed across the world in short order. We save £33bn. Uncertainty is ended, not dragging on for years. The Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy no longer apply – the UK government can support farmers and fisherman in the best way possible.

And EU-UK trade would continue as before, not least because the EU sells us £90bn more than we buy from them. That is why the head of Calais port has guaranteed that trade will be unrestricted.

The EU fears a WTO deal – a clean break – because Britain would prosper while the EU fell further behind. That is the reason it and its acolytes are so opposed to it. It would demolish the whole European project.

William Loneskie

Oxton

POSITIVITY VERSUS NEGATIVITY

No matter what you think of Boris Johnson, on the day he became Prime Minister his words emphasising positivity for the UK were in stark contrast to Scotland’s First Minister.

Nicola Sturgeon chose to focus on negativity, on who and what she did not like, and her contempt for those who do not agree with her was clear. The SNP’s leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford, went further, lowering the tone in the Commons by calling the UK government “charlatans”, and sadly not being called up for this unparliamentary language by the Speaker.

This tone might play well with the SNP faithful, but both Sturgeon and Blackford could yet prove to be the people who do most to boost our new Prime Minister’s popularity in Scotland. As Boris Johnson leads a government aiming to deliver on the big challenges of the day, the SNP leadership regularly remind us that all they offer is a prospectus of grievance and complaint, whilst ducking the realities of the SNP Scottish government’s own shortcomings.

Keith Howell

West Linton

A BLOOMING GREAT EFFORT

On behalf of the British Heart Foundation’s Kelso fundraising group, I would like to thank Honour Murray, Lennel Bank Gardens, Coldstream, for hosting an open garden event.

Her garden is truly wonderful – a hidden gem with a stunning water feature, so many varieties of flowers and plants, little paths and wonderous flowers with beautiful aromas.

Thanks to all the BHF volunteers who helped with the teas and coffees etc., as well as friends and family of Honour who helped with baking, gate fees and plant sale.

We think we have raised over £1,500 for Scotland’s Garden Scheme and the BHF.

Lynn Young