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Looking towards the Eildon Hills and Peniel Heugh
Looking towards the Eildon Hills and Peniel Heugh

Curtis Welsh was looking towards the Eildon Hills and Peniel Heugh.

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

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

A DISGRACE TO IDEA OF DEMOCRACY

Amid all the hullabaloo about the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling that Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue parliament was unlawful or, as most of us would call it, illegal, it’s always worthwhile noting a bit of local interest.

Where did our local MPs position themselves in the shoddy affair. John Lamont? – stood by Johnson. David Mundell? – supported Johnson. Alister Jack over in Dumfries? – shoulder to shoulder with Johnson.

And so on and so forth – every Scottish Conservative MP was typically too afraid to stand up to him and their powers-that-be in Westminster, and instead meekly agreed with the illegal proroguing of parliament. And just like their boss, not a shred of remorse, not a hint of humility. It was the judges’ fault. A big boy done it and ran away.

Glib, deceitful, unable to accept personal responsibility. You’ll see more honour in any Peeblesshire playground than among these “honourable gentlemen”.

What an utter disgrace to the idea of democracy each and every one of them are. Surely, in our wee part of the world, where decency, honesty and integrity still means something, there can be no place for such submissive cowardice.

Why would anyone want to give them their vote?

Ian Reid

West Linton

CANDIDATES FOR THE HAWICK CHAIR

Apparently Duncan Taylor, tipped as a possible candidate for chair of Hawick Community Council, finds it acceptable to launch a Facebook page which he controls as if it were an official page for a community council still in abeyance.

Worse still, he threatens censorship of comment. So much for openness and accountability.

On the subject of who will be elected chair, it seems two rumoured candidates have ruled themselves out, but the one former chair’s position is unknown, so is it to be a coronation for former Hawick Common Riding chair Cameron Knox? If he is successful, does he understand just how much work there is in being chair and how he needs to focus his attention and loyalty on Hawick Community Council?

Given his statement at a recent community council meeting that Hawick Common Riding Committee, of which he was then chair, would do what ever it liked, regardless of what Hawick Community Council said, is he an appropriate person for chair? Can he resist the temptation to be selected as a representative to Hawick Common Riding Committee for the community council? If not, then does he understand that his loyalty is not to the common riding, but to Hawick Community Council, first, last and always.

To attempt to be chair of both would be a completely unacceptable conflict of interest.

A stalwart and highly-experienced alternative would be Wilson George whose experience and expertise would serve the community council well. Alternatively, the council has new members who, having been judged fit to be councillors, are surely fit for the role of chair.

The chair needs to be fair, present the view of the whole council in a unbiased and fair way, and demonstrate that quality of leadership which enables a working relationship with all members of the council, whether returned unopposed or ex-officio.

One hopes that members returning after a break will have the commitment to see out their whole term, particularly given the highly-restrictive co-option rules of the current constitution.

Finally, the community council has its youngest member for years. He should be encouraged to bring the view of the upcoming generation to the table. Like all councillors, he will need to play a part in external bodies and could be an ideal candidate as a representative to the common riding committee.

One wishes all of members of the new Hawick Community Council every success in their roles. It was challenging to have played a part in reinvigorating interest in the community council which should be a leading voice for the whole community.

One trusts they will not be troubled by the distraction of a vocal minority, as happened to the last council in its closing months, but learn from that council the need to tackle difficult issues and accept that their decisions will not always be popular.

Graham Marshall

Hawick

PROTESTS AND POLITICS

I could count myself as qualifying to be a WASPI woman, but fail to understand the umbrage of certain females at Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP John Lamont.

The decision to extend the number of years that women would have to work before getting their state pensions was an all-party one taken when Labour were in power. There was virtually no dissent in parliament.

The WASPIs always claim they did not get enough notice of the changes, which I can rubbish because I was aware of them more than six years before I would have retired under the old system, namely at 60, in late June 2013. I actually retired under the new system in early March 2017, more than three years and eight months later.

I am not a Tory voter, but think John Lamont is being targeted because of his politics.

It was noticeable his predecessor – the SNP’s Calum Kerr – was never targeted, yet the SNP at Westminster wholeheartedly supported the changes to the women’s state pension age and also to the extending of the qualifying ages for both sexes to 67 and beyond.

John Lamont is quite correct that this so-called protesting is politically motivated, nothing to do with justice for my sex and more to do with troublemaking.

Sally Mannison

Ladhope Drive

Galashiels

EMERGENCY ACTION?

At least 100 police vehicles, motorbikes and ambulances roared through Birgham on Sunday, September 8 – and this is a 30mph zone.

We do not see any police checks for speeding vehicles – no wonder if, like on September 8, officers do not obey speed rules themselves.

We understand police speeding in emergencies, but is a world cycling event (or Tour of Britain) an emergency?

Jean Cunningham

Birgham

WHAT’S YOUR HURRY, FOLKS?

I was out on my bike one morning recently.

In the space of 10 miles (Foulden to Duns) I saw a badger, a stoat, a deer, several rabbits, two hedgehogs, three pheasants, a buzzard, a kestrel, 20 plus unidentifiable mammals/birds – all roadkill.

It’s a graveyard out there. People of Berwickshire – what’s your hurry?

Susie Arnott

New Mains

Foulden

MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT NEEDED

Almost 7,000 people in the Borders have been diagnosed with diabetes.

It is a relentless condition which requires careful management every day to reduce the risk of dangerous complications, including stroke, kidney failure, lower limb amputations and sight loss.

It’s no wonder that the day-to-day demands of living with diabetes can feel like a constant struggle. In fact, in a recent survey seven out of 10 people admitted to feeling overwhelmed by the condition but, of those that sought additional support, three quarters were unable to access it.

Diabetes Scotland is campaigning for better access to emotional and psychological support for people living with diabetes. We believe it should be a routine part of diabetes care provided by NHS Scotland and available to everyone living with the condition across Scotland.

We’re calling on people affected by diabetes to support our ‘It’s Missing’ campaign by contacting their MSP and letting them know that mental health support is too often missing from diabetes care. Visit www.diabetes.org.uk/missing for further information and to sign up for campaign updates.

If any readers would like to share their experience of diabetes and mental health, help us campaign or find out more, please drop me a line on Rupert.Pigot@diabetes.org.uk or call 0141 245 6380.

Rupert Pigot

(policy and external

engagement manager)

Diabetes Scotland

INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS

Those who value equality above freedom will always disapprove of independent schools.

Those whose faith is in the wisdom of the state will always be suspicious of those seeking to have their children educated outside the direct control of government.

Despite the best efforts of Education Scotland to squeeze them into its mould, the success of independent schools is largely attributable to their distinctive ethos and freedom from destructive ideology. Leaders of independent schools have to juggle two vital projects: running a good school and keeping Education Scotland happy by being seen to implement its latest fad. These objectives sometimes coincide, more commonly are entirely unrelated to each other, and all too often are in tension.

If head teachers of independent schools didn’t live in mortal fear of Education Scotland inspectors, they would be queuing up to agree openly with this view.

Independent schools in Scotland are pressurised into preaching a left-wing SNP-style interpretation of “equality, fairness and equity” to their impressionable pupils. Having generally failed to resist this pressure, independent schools now find their existence threatened by the very ideology that they have been compliantly teaching to their own pupils.

Standing up for what you believe in shouldn’t just be a great theme for an assembly.

Richard Lucas

(leader)

Scottish Family Party)

Bath Sreet

Glasgow

CHILDREN WITH SUPPORT NEEDS

As a coalition whose members support children with additional support needs (ASN), we greatly welcome the establishment of a review to examine how additional support for learning is delivered in the classrooms and how this can be improved.

Its findings will be submitted to the Scottish Government and CoSLA by the end of February 2020.

While there are some excellent examples of best practice, for many with ASN their experience is not good, often lacking the necessary vital classroom support which impacts not only them, but their fellow pupils and teachers.

For some time now we have expressed concern over the increase in the number of those with ASN, almost 70% since 2012, against the background of a fall in the numbers of specialist ASN teachers and support staff in key categories. Spending per pupil with ASN has also been cut by more than a quarter over this same time period.

It is vital that those with ASN get the care and support they need, which is also key if we are to close the educational attainment gap.

We would urge individuals – be they pupils, parents or teachers and other practitioners to share their experiences at: ChairASLindependentreview@outlook.com

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition

Queen Street

Edinburgh

HOMING IN ON VETERANS’ PLIGHT

No one who has served their country should be homeless, but our analysis of government data shows that homeless veterans are being missed by local authorities and are losing out on the enhanced support and housing available to them.

This week we launch a campaign to tackle this issue and help reduce veterans’ homelessness as close to zero as possible. The No Homeless Veterans campaign (http://www.nohomelessveterans.org.uk) calls on local authorities, homelessness charities and advice agencies to ‘Think Veteran’ in order to identify ex-servicemen and women and signpost them to the best support available to them.

The fact there are still veterans sleeping in inappropriate accommodation, in hostels and on the streets is unacceptable. We are fortunate in this country that there is a wide range of independent and government-led organisations that provide specialist support to service leavers.

But it is only by effectively identifying veterans and signposting them to these services that we will put an end to this tragic situation.

Ed Tytherleigh

(co-chair)

Confederation of Service

Charities Housing Cluster

Elizabeth Street

London