YOUR PICTURE OF THE WEEK

Looking west towards Hawick from Minto
Looking west towards Hawick from Minto

While cycling near Minto, Curtis Welsh’s eye was drawn to this newly-painted gate and ornate gatepost with a view looking westwards to Hawick and beyond.

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

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

PAYING FOR AN ESSENTIAL SERVICE

With reference to the article in last week’s Southern Reporter concerning our public toilets and the five options being considered by Scottish Borders Council.

May I suggest that there is one other option available to the council.

Stop charging our visitors (and residents) for what is a basic human need. It is not an option. When you need to go, you need to go.

The right to decent public conveniences in our beautiful Borders towns is an essential service for which we pay council tax.

Peter Small

Pinnaclehill Park

Kelso

A PROFIT CENTRE FOR COUNCILS?

Scottish Borders Council is forgetting its obligations to residents and visitors to the area (‘Charges for spending penny not adding up to enough for council’, Southern, June 28).

Urination and defecation are basic biological needs, not a profit centre for local authorities.

During the 1700s there were middens of human and animal waste on the streets of our towns and villages. The population suffered from ague and other maladies as the result of “bad vapours” in the environment. When the middens were removed, there was an immediate improvement in public health.

Since the council hasn’t been making the profits it expected, the preferred option is to privatise the toilets. Other possibilities on the table include closing the public toilets, increasing the use charges or continuing to make a loss.

There is be no need for debate. All public toilets should be free. Councils should be required by law to provide toilet facilities – this is the 21st century, not the 18th. Apart from meeting the basic needs of every human being, it is a public health issue. It is not a matter of profit and loss.

Elsewhere, the 2018 Scottish Borders Business Excellence Awards, organised by the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce, is to be sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

It seems that the bank’s advertising department hasn’t received the memo pointing out that there are no RBS branches south of Edinburgh. But, then again, RBS CEO Ross McEwan was paid £3.5m to oversee bank losses of £9bn last year.

Certainly business excellence from Mr McEwan’s point of view – I’m sure bank customers in the Borders think differently.

John Black

(The Scottish Jacobite Party)

Helensburgh

DROP IN DECENCY AND RESPECT

I remember growing up and hearing from adults that “life was better in their day”.

Like many others, when they were a child, I would just nod and smile politely, but in my head I would think, “What a load of rubbish”.

However, I am now in my thirties and, ironically, think life was better when I was a youngster. Over the past decade I have seen a marked decrease in social standards with regards to decency and respect. I must emphasise that this is just my personal opinion and from what I observe from certain people in our society on a daily basis.

Some do not have any self-respect or respect for others, they have no manners and have a don’t-care-about-anything-or-anyone attitude.

I saw a young man at the Galashiels transport interchange the other day who was intoxicated and abusive to members of the public. Nobody said anything and acted as if this was a normal everyday occurence (I have witnessed this scenario on numerous occasions at the interchange).

And there is the problem, dear readers. In our society this attitude and behaviour is fast becoming a normal occurence, when it should be unacceptable.

I have also noticed that under-age pregnancy has increased over the past decade.

When I was a child this was seen as wrong and irresponsible, and there also appears to have been a marked increase in family breakdown.

People got married and stayed married – nowadays most people I come across have been married for a year or two and then get divorced, obviously ignoring the vows they took when they got married, one being that marriage is for life, not a just for a year or so. The nucleus of the family was very important and especially so if the couple had children.

No doubt some people reading this letter will disagree with me, viewing my thoughts and opinions as outdated and “not politically correct”, which also seems to be the description of a person who decides to speak their mind.

Mark G. Kettrick

Kirkbrae

Galashiels

PREDATORY MULTINATIONALS

During the course of a conversation about Scottish independence recently, a friendly acquaintance said he agreed with much of what I write, but questioned why indy supporters want to abandon the English to their fate rather than stay in the Union and help them to make life better.

The first thing to say is that I have not come across any animosity towards English people within the ranks of the independence movement, indeed, many supporters are English, like myself. Further, we wish all UK citizens could have the benefits we enjoy in Scotland – free prescriptions, university fees and care for the elderly; an NHS still totally in public hands, and much more.

But there’s the rub. If Britain leaves the EU and Scotland stays in the Union, how long will these benefits last?

The devolved policies which are to be summarily removed from Holyrood are to assist Westminster make trade deals which could put our food standards, environment (fracking) and NHS at risk of being swallowed up by predatory multinationals – and the Scottish Government will be impotent to protect us.

London governments are becoming increasingly right-wing and ideologically driven, and the bottom line is given precedence over people’s health, family life and workers’ rights.

People who have to claim welfare support after becoming unemployed, disabled or ill are driven to mental illness or even suicide by a barbaric and callous assessment system.

How could Scotland, with only 59 out of 650 MPs at Westminster, possibly alter these harsh policies, even if all of them possessed a social conscience?

However, when Scotland becomes an independent nation again it will show the rest of the UK that there is a better and fairer way towards a civilised society. News about the quality of life north of the border would filter south, as it already is doing, and people would question how Scotland, always portrayed as an impoverished country with a begging bowl, could afford all these benefits when “booming Britain” still suffers austerity.

Unionists will be surprised to learn that there are many English for Independence groups throughout Scotland, with supporters for independence and even SNP members south of the border.

Richard Walthew

Duns

SNP MAY FIND OUT THE HARD WAY

Newly-reappointed to the Scottish Cabinet, with a wider constitutional remit, Mike Russell has suggested that a second referendum could be about independence, Brexit, or even both.

He might think that a smart way to try to attract more support for the SNP’s overriding ambition.

Yet as substantial as the minorities that lost the 2014 and 2016 referendums were, there is every possibility that those agitating for referendum reruns will find out the hard way what people think of being told they got it wrong last time.

Keith Howell

West Linton

WASTING MILLIONS ON LEGAL FEES

“Fracking is banned – end of story” boasted First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, with her insipid ministers giggling in background agreement.

All the legalities had been investigated, so the legal information was rock solid.

Not so. The Scottish Government had just wasted millions of pounds in legal fees in court defending its case in the Ineos legal action venturing to overturn its decision on fracking.

Why? The Lord Advocate, James Wolffe, on behalf of the Scottish Government, made it clear in court that “anyone who thought that fracking was banned in Scotland (no mention of the First Minister) was mistaken because it was just ... PR gloss”.

Meanwhile, in the real world, away from the increasingly-inadequate Scottish Government, Ineos (having spent £50m on legal fees and licences) continues to import US-fracked gas to Scotland to safeguard jobs and its £1.8bn investment in Grangemouth, and contribute millions of pounds of taxes to the Scottish exchequer.

Are we to get the same decisions from an independent Scotland? Then God help us.

Paul Singleton

Gordon

REWARD OFFERED

My wife and I had a fabulous time at Selkirk Common Riding this year.

Sadly, on my way home from the ball on the Friday night, I mislaid my pocket camera. It is a Panasonic TZ70 in a blue protective pouch, along with three spare batteries. The camera has my address label on it and is marked with DNA UV locator, but despite contacting everyone I can think of, it has not yet turned up.

There is a reward for its return and especially for the return of the SD card which contains the video of the Selkirk Castings of the Colours which I was to publish on YouTube.

I took a taxi from the Victoria Halls to The Haining around 2am. The taxi was from Galashiels.

The camera has been reported missing on Facebook and the police lost property site.

Keith Rodgerson

Bristol

(07970 623262)

TOUR OF BATTLEFIELDS

2018 marks the centenary of the Armistice ending the First World War, and also the Royal Air Force centenary.

To mark the occasion I will be leading a coach party to France and Belgium to follow the events of 1918 on the battlefields between October 21 and 26.

We will follow the German spring advance and the Allied response and victory in the autumn. En route we will visit the centenary exhibition at the Royal Air Force museum in London to see original planes used in the war.

We will visit the Armistice Railway Carriage in France and sites associated with the Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen; Mick Mannock VC, the Cumbrian padre; T. B. Hardy VC DSO MC and poet Wilfred Owen. We will also take part in the Menin Gate ceremony in Ypres.

There will also be an opportunity to visit a relative’s grave or memorial by prior arrangement.

We still have a few places left. If any of your readers would like more details, I can be contacted on 01368 866826, johndavidraw@gmail.com and by post.

David Raw

Beachcote

Golf House Road

Dunbar

East Lothian EH42 1LS

BACK ON BIRGHAM FAST TRACK

Well – they’re back. At 1.15pm, four motorcyclists racing through Birgham at well over the 30mph limit. Five minutes’ later, another six.

I can image it could only be those let out from boring factory jobs seeking the ultimate thrill.

And where are the police to catch them? – enjoying their lunch at taxpayers’ expense, I presume.

Jean Cunningham

Birgham

CONTESTANTS WANTED

I work at Studio Lambert, the TV company behind BAFTA-winning Gogglebox, Tattoo Fixers and Undercover Boss.

We are currently casting for a new travel series and are looking for contributors in your area. We are seeking people with a keen sense of adventure to take part in a trans-global race for a cash prize.

Do you have the skills to travel off the beaten track? Could you navigate your way across the world better than anybody else? If so, this could be your journey of a lifetime.

This real-world adventure series is looking for contestants to travel across the globe by whatever means they can: foot, car, bicycle, boat, bus, ferry, motorbike, horse… as long as it’s without flying.

With no phones to help, it’s set to be the ultimate globe-trotting expedition. Along the way they’ll be passing through the world’s most beautiful scenery, meeting friendly locals and immersing themselves in a kaleidoscope of different cultures.

Contestants will travel alongside another contestant and a small crew.

To be eligible to apply, contestants must be over 18. For more information and details about how to apply, see: http://studiolambert.com/take-part-travel.html

If you would like to speak to us in person, we can be reached on 0203 040 6915 (standard charges apply and phone lines are open 10am-6pm, Mon-Fri) or alternatively email us at flightless@studiolambert.com

Kathryn Burke

(assistant producer)