It’s easy to stand back and criticise
I must respond to the rather silly letters appearing in the local press recently about Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE) in our high streets.
Some letter writers were critical of myself and Councillor Gordon Edgar for putting up a motion seeking to consult with Borderers to see if they were in favour of going down the DPE road.
I sat on the petitions committee on October 6 and listened to the concerns being expressed by two local shopkeepers and Derek Tate, from Future Hawick, telling us that something had to be done to try and resolve the present situation. They told us some cars are parked days at a time, having a disastrous effect on deliveries and customers being able to get into their shops. So I am certainly not taking any lectures from anyone who wasn’t even at the meeting and never heard the shopkeepers’ pleas.
Even members of the public have asked me if it would be possible for the council to bring back traffic wardens. I have to explain to them that the only way the local authority could do that would be if we voted for DPE – so the council would get the money from fines instead of it going to central government. But this process would take 18 months to two years to be completed.
I argued at the council meeting that some people were being unrealistic to think that the police would be able to deal with parking problems – is that not why we got traffic wardens in place in the first place? When they were introduced it was argued that this would free up police officers to deal with more important criminal activity.
One letter claimed that two councillors were the hardest working in Hawick. But choosing to not sit on many committees at Newtown St Boswells, I am a wee bit puzzled what they actually do.
They certainly say all the things that people want to hear – such as complaining about potholes in the roads and being critical of the new warden service for littering and dog fouling.
It’s very easy to stand back and be critical – but at least I am trying to make a difference.
Will they be putting forward an alternative budget this year in order to get wardens taken on and find all the extra millions needed for roads? Or will it be the same as last year? – agree with the budget and then a week later one of them criticise the cuts on Border TV. Why didn’t he tell the people of Hawick that he voted the cuts through as well?
The council administration has to make difficult decisions – is that why these two councillors chose to leave the administration instead of making these tough decisions?
What I would say about these two councillors is that they are certainly hard-working – at self-publicity.
Councillor David Paterson
Let’s look to
Kenneth Gunn’s letter last week was spot on.
I have lived in the Borders some 23 years, a lot of the time spent complaining about the state of the roads in the area. I have photographed drains that were blocked and sprouting vegetation, gutters that have not been cleaned for goodness knows how long, I have phoned whichever agency was in charge of the roads at the time, I have written to politicians, councillors, signed petitions, you name it – eventually disillusion set in, old age arrived and I put my pen aside.
However, a journey to Eccles from Selkirk last week set my complaining juices on a level I have not experienced for some time.
The first stage from Selkirk to St Boswells was the beginning of a watery nightmare – heavy rain the previous night had left the road almost a continuous puddle. I have used this road countless times, but I have never seen it so badly flooded.
The St Boswells-Kelso section was just as bad with flooded fields overflowing onto the road and again huge puddles.
But this was nothing compared with Kelso to Eccles. This stretch was horrific.
The road was an almost continuous pool of water and woe betide anyone on the pavement sections – in certain circumstances it would be impossible to avoid soaking them.
The wet also highlights the abysmal road conditions. It means one can see the uneven surfaces, badly-filled potholes, unfilled potholes and general woeful conditions.
Why is it repairs are never finished? How many A and B routes have no white line road edge renewed? Do road people in the council not drive? Can they not see the diabolical repairs that are done? Does no one inspect so-called finished jobs? Or is it the now-familiar story of no money and get the job done as cheaply as possible.
It is impossible to discuss roads without politics raising its head and one has to ask in the roads debate, is big really beautiful?
Roads were removed from local government control and handed over to large amorphous companies who seem to work some kind of ‘Buggins Turn’ renewal every few years. This happened under the Lib/Lab government of years gone by and should surely now be looked at.
Hand road-management programmes back to local control and maybe the conditions Mr Gunn described could return.
Lack of courtesy and respect
I read with interest news of a recommendation by the University of Hertfordshire that special arrangements should be made for elderly shoppers in supermarkets.
A recent experience at a large store in the Borders suggests to me, as an over-60 shuffler (awarded my first hip replacement this year), that the only special arrangements necessary are courtesy and respect.
My problems arose because I imagined that the shopper in front of me deserved space to conclude her transaction – i.e. she didn’t need me to be standing at her shoulder while keying in her PIN number.
Contradicting my stance, the till operator seemed to suggest that personal space and financial security are things which should be disregarded in checkout queues – she wanted me to get closer to this lady, causing her to express embarrassment and giving licence to the man behind me to verbally abuse me for apparently frustrating his desire to tip his junk food, alcohol and dubious reading material onto the conveyer belt at a faster rate.
I accepted the manager’s apology – but little has changed in his store and others are much, much worse.
We don’t crowd people at on-street cash dispensers – why do supermarkets foster a contrary culture?
English friends are SNP members
I have to correct Paul Singleton and Alistair Martin on matters of fact (letters, November 24).
I am described as “an SNP member” and a “dyed-in-the-wool SNP supporter”. I am not, never have been and do not intend to become a member of the SNP.
However, I must plead guilty to the charge of being a “huge optimist” – since I look forward to our country becoming an independent nation in the near future.
It is a pity Mr Singleton chooses to interpret a simple request to support his opinions with facts as a “personal attack”.
The “fantasy land” he refers to is a country with one Conservative MP, one Labour MP, one Lib Dem MP and a prime minister no one has voted for, which is currently being dictated to by a unionist government which Scotland did not vote for.
This blind allegiance to such a government raises the question – exactly who is living in “fantasy land”?
Mr Martin’s choice of language – “visceral hatred” – and the assertion that “hatred of the SNP is totally justified” is unfortunate and smacks of the xenophobic and racist language from Westminster before, during and following the EU referendum, when Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain.
After the Brexit vote we have the falling pound, increased government borrowing, continuing austerity, declining wages and the disgraceful treatment by the Home Office of good people of all nations, who wish to make their homes here and make a valued contribution to our economy and our culture.
Scotland is a proud nation with a democratically-elected government at Holyrood and a record number of MPs at Westminster who strive to represent the interests of our citizens.
It is a country which welcomes everyone, wherever they come from – including England. I have many friends and acquaintances who are English and, it may surprise Mr Martin, some are SNP members. They, like me, recognise that an independent Scotland is more than capable of running its own affairs, and creating a welcoming and inclusive society, which works for the benefit of all its people – unlike divisive and dysfunctional Westminster governments which do not deliver for them.
Bin the digital dialogue, Calum
Calum Kerr MP has again been rabbiting on in his regular column about his favourite and one and only subject, namely everything digital. I wish he’d give it a rest for once.
I have to ask if the digital economy can empty Calum Kerr’s wheelie bins, can it unblock his drains or change a tyre on his car for instance? Because like a million other tasks, it can’t!
Calum Kerr has had 18 months at Westminster, but little or nothing to show for it.
I saw him on TV the other week in a Westminster committee room going on about everything digital – but there were 10 times more seats unoccupied than had people in them and few seemed to be listening intently.
I say to Calum Kerr, get out into the real world after the Christmas recess and start to solve some of the problems we have here because there are plenty to keep him occupied. But the trouble is that his SNP sidekicks under Wee Nicola at Holyrood have caused a lot of them.
Nationalist and liberal values
I congratulate John Ferry on his election as chair of the Liberal Democrats’ Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale branch (letters, November 24.)
However, I disagree with his implication that “nationalism” – no capital letter – is somehow incompatible with “liberal” – again no capital – values because Liberal Democrats are surely not the only liberal people.
Many colonial and satellite nations have been moved by nationalist (some might say patriotic) and liberal values to seek independence and freedom.
Why would anyone who believes in fair play and justice say that such people were wrong, least of all someone who values liberty and democracy?
Steam could be the solution
My recent experience of the Borders Railway shows that the only trains which seem consistently to run timeously are the specials drawn by steam locomotives, some of which are more than 75 years old.
Perhaps the answer to Scotland’s current railway crisis is to build many more to similar or even modernised designs.
If Scottish engineering companies are no longer up to this, then India still has the capability and I’m sure that a large locomotive order to the Indian sub-continent would do much to repair the damage caused by Mrs May’s recent visit.
John Eoin Douglas
Where is cheap electricity?
According to energy companies, households face a rise of up to 10% on their energy bills in January to cover the extra “green” taxes imposed by government.
One said: “This proposed increase is mainly due to the high costs of wind and solar energy”.
Around 7-9% of the average total energy bill – or £78 to £100 – already goes towards paying for these “green” taxes.
Part goes to pay customers who feed electricity back into the grid from solar panels, so they are being subsidised by those who are struggling to pay their bills.
Smart meters will increase bills by a further £40 a year.
Where exactly is the cheap and reliable renewable electricity we were repeatedly promised?
Thanks to Selkirk volunteers
We would like to thank everyone who helped with the blood donor session when we visited Selkirk on Sunday, November 20. A total of 154 volunteers offered to give blood and 138 donations were given. There were three new donors.
Blood Transfusion Service
Readers’ help sought
I have been researching my late grandmother’s life and from what I know she worked in service during the 1930s with either Mary or Lily Herdman who were from a family of farmers in Hawick.
I would be interested to know if any reader remembers or knows of this family.
I know that Lily eventually married someone called Peter Watson, who I believe worked as a gamekeeper in Hexham, Northumberland.
If anyone has any information which would help with my research, please contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yetholm raises over £800
The Poppy Appeal for Yetholm and District has raised £803. Thank you to all volunteers for giving their time and members of the public for their generous contributions.