At Random by Martin Laing

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Get rid of Lords, not our MPs

The New Year’s honours were announced last week and saw a number of local people rewarded for their commitment to our communities and other causes.

Some people, however, object in principle to the system of honouring, suggesting it is elitist and divisive. Knighting men and making women dames, or administering the various other gongs to recognise achievements comes in for flak.

There are also those who campaign against the United Kingdom’s upper house at Westminster and the creation of new lords and ladies.

Personally, I’ve nothing against the New Year’s honours – or Queen’s birthday honours – as a way in which to congratulate selfless contributors to civic society.

There is, however, a huge degree of hypocrisy from successive governments of different political hues over using the Lords to reward financial benefactors or politicians.

At present, there are proposals out to consultation to
reduce the number of MPs to save taxpayers’ money. These suggestions include altering the constituencies covering Argyll and Bute and the Highlands and Islands by dropping one of our MPs.

What’s more, Brendan O’Hara (currently Argyll and Bute) and Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) will see their current constituencies grow even larger, assuming they are selected to stand again and win.

But this comes at a time when the Lords is becoming ever more bloated with unelected people. Did you know there are now more than 800 members of the Lords, compared to the Commons, which has 650?

Prime minister after prime minister has used ennoblement as a means of patronage to favour party political supporters.

Never mind cutting the number of MPs in our huge rural area – let’s slash and burn through the appointed, privileged and unelected House of Lords.

Keep the pressure on over bins mess

AND still the problems with Argyll and Bute Council’s waste collection system refuse to go away.

In recent days even more readers have been in touch to complain about the lack of pick-ups – with some saying it’s now more than six weeks since their bins were emptied.

Hardly anyone now seems to know when – or if – their bins are due to be collected. Also, the problem has been exacerbated by the festive season which has seen a sharp increase in the amount of rubbish generated.

Badger your councillor to let them know how you feel. Direct contact will focus their minds like nothing else. To find out who is your local elected member, go to

Well done for Hogmanay events

THE chief executive of Bid4Oban, Derek Connery, offers a heartfelt thanks on our letters page today to all those responsible for organising and sponsoring the fireworks and other celebrations that marked Hogmanay.

I would echo that sentiment. The events were a great success and a credit to those involved – including Derek and his team.

RNLI crews already called to action

It did not take long into the new year for Oban’s RNLI lifeboat to be called into action. In this instance, the crew were asked, on January 3, to transport two paramedics to Lismore to help an individual on the island.

As it turned out, the air ambulance was also present and airlifted the casualty to hospital.

This brings into sharp focus the fantastic work done by volunteer lifeboat crews. These people risk their lives in all kinds of difficult conditions to help others. And they are supported, let’s not forget, by a team on shore as well, who often go unsung.

These kind of emergencies will, inevitably, be repeated but let’s hope 2017 is a year with a minimum number of call-outs for the brave crews.

Get in touch with your thoughts

Do you have something you want to share? Let me know by writing to me at  The Oban Times, Crannog Lane, Oban, PA34 4 HB, or by email to