Opinion: Martin Laing welcomes the support for the A85 petition

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It is hugely gratifying to see the level of support we have garnered for our campaign to improve safety on the A85 between Oban and Connel.

In the first two days alone, well over 100 people signed our online petition demanding action from the statutory authorities to act to halt the carnage on this stretch of road.

And some of the comments from our supporters make harrowing reading, recounting, as they do, stark stories of families who have suffered as a result of accidents on this notorious stretch.

What is also interesting is that those who have signed the petition are not all from this area. We have been backed by people from Cork in Ireland, Helensburgh, Glasgow, Wishaw, Larkhall, Edinburgh and Blainslie in the Borders, to name but a few.

One of the most notable comments from a supporter was that from Isla Kerr, of Powmill (in Clackmannanshire, I think), who said: ‘That is THE most dangerous road I have ever driven. My mother, father and brother have all been in accidents (on separate occasions) on that road. Something needs done.’

We have three easily affordable and eminently achievable demands: reduce the speed limit on the road, paint double white lines to prevent overtaking and create a lay-by at Pennyfuir cemetery.

To sign online, go to www.change.org/p/humza-yousaf-stay-alive-on-the-a85-oban-to-connel-and-beyond/w?source_location=petition_show.

So proud of Oban High Pipe Band

We had a fantastic response on social media last week to our stories, photographs and shared videos of Oban High School Pipe Band in New York.

For anyone who missed it, the boys and girls were in the Big Apple to take part in the now world famous Tartan Day parade along Sixth Avenue.

The band was in its usual fine form and caused quite a stir. But one of their members became an online sensation even before they arrived in the United States.

Gregor MacDonald, 13, was cheered and clapped on the flight to New York after he gave an impromptu performance on the aircraft.

Gregor and his hugely talented school band colleagues did us all proud. They are a credit to their town, school and families, but mostly to themselves.

If you missed Gregor’s performance, you can see it at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-39570050

Fatal sinking inquiry looks to be flawed

The forthcoming fatal accident inquiry into the sinking of the fishing vessel Speedwell in 2013 appears to be seriously flawed.

The family of Scott MacAlister, who died when the boat went down, have raised serious concerns the hearing will be ‘sham’. It is hard to disagree.

Scott’s father, Peter, has complained, quite justifiably, that without evidence from the boat itself, there is little point in holding the FAI.

I have no knowledge of marine engineering but it seems obvious the condition of the boat is essential to establish why the Speedwell foundered.

According to the official MAIB report, there were a number of faults with the boat that had been identified before the tragedy, including the pump in the hold not working, lifejackets had no record of service, the liferaft had no record of service, and it was suspected the alarm in the engine-room was not working.