Opinion: Martin Laing says the bins system is till rubbish

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Bins back on track? Rubbish!
So, the waste collection system is ‘mostly back on track’, according to Argyll and Bute Council, as reported in The Oban Times last week.
Really? Who is the council kidding?
People are still complaining that their bins have not been emptied for up to six weeks and that they have no idea any more when – or if – their rubbish will be collected.
The situation across Argyll is still dire, and has been made worse by the festive season and the stormy weather. In fairness to the council, there’s not much it can do about either of those.
However, gales, snow and rain arrive every winter and are about as predictable as day following night. And Christmas, with its accompanying surge in the amount of litter to be removed, just happens to come along at the same time each year.
We have been sent graphic illustrations by readers of the consequences of the failed waste collection system, with overflowing bins blown over, scattering rotting rubbish everywhere, and refuse sacks split open and causing noisome filth to be spread around our streets.
There is honestly only one solution and I’ve urged its implementation previously: scrap the three-weekly system and return to fortnightly general wheelie bin collections.

Let’s fight for the hospital
There is a real and present danger that the hospital in Oban could be downgraded.
NHS Highland has announced a review of the services provided in at Lorn and Islands Hospital – to give it its proper name – including A&E provision, moving away from a hospital to a community facility, surgical work, maximising partnership and networks, ‘realistic medicine’ and ‘financially sustainability’. This is a harbinger of swingeing cuts to come.
I was previously editor of the Lennox Herald covering West Dunbartonshire and launched a campaign that is still running to save existing services at Vale of Leven Hospital in Alexandria and to restore some that had been removed.
We were given cast-iron guarantees that the future of the Vale hospital was secure and that no further cuts were planned.
These pledges were not worth the paper they were written on.
Despite Scotland’s health secretary Shona Robison platitudes, further damaging cuts have been inflicted on the Vale.
Now the attention has turned to Oban.
People in Argyll already have to travel significant distances to access treatment for a number of illnesses and conditions, often incorporating exhausting and expensive journeys to Glasgow, Paisley and elsewhere.
It is absolutely vital that we all demand hands off the Lorn and Islands Hospital. Once the cuts begin, there is a genuine danger that the facility will be damaged to the point where its whole viability is called into question. If that happens, it could be catastrophic.
But even the admission that A&E is to be scrutinised is scandalous. If they shut down the emergency unit, then where would we go? Inverness? Glasgow? It cannot be Vale of Leven because its A&E is already closed.
Closing A&E at Oban will cost lives. Let’s not let that happen.
The world comes to Argyll
IT IS heartening to report this week on the superb work being done at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) at Dunstaffnage (see above).
The facility is earning itself a highly enviable global reputation, as is evidenced by the league of nations represented in its student body as part of the University of the Highlands and Islands.
Some 19 countries have sent their brightest young people to the Oban area to work and study.
This international brigade come from as disparate regions as South America, the Caribbean, the Southern Ocean, Asia and North America. As we report, they are loving being here and having the time of their lives but they are also engaged in cutting-edge scientific work that will win international plaudits.
Their presence in our communities brings with it an exoticism that enhances all our lives.
Should you come across any of the students, let them know how welcome they are

What do you think?
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 mlaing@obantimes.co.uk.