Letters to the editor

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SNP members have been great value
Sir,
I write in response to the letter from D Johnson, Tarbert, (‘A poor choice of election candidates’, The Oban Times, June 1).
While I agree with his comments regarding Alan Reid and Jamie McGrigor, I take exception to his comment regarding Brendan O’Hara.
The latest Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA – http://www.theipsa.org.uk/) show SNP MPs are the hardest working MPs at Westminster, cost significantly less and are better value for money than their predecessors from other parties.
Here are the facts.
Figures published on IPSA’s website confirm that in 2015-16 SNP MPs in fact cost more than £1 million (£1,140,801.64) less than their predecessors in 2014-15. On average, SNP MPs cost more than £21,000 less than their predecessors.
New figures show that SNP MPs work harder than their predecessors, and are some of the most active MPs at Westminster.
In 2016, SNP MPs spoke in an average of 64 debates. This compares to an average of just 43 debates for Labour MPs and 38 debates for Conservative MPs.
SNP MPs have each tabled an average of 58 written parliamentary questions. In total, SNP MPs have tabled over 3,000 written parliamentary questions – holding UK government ministers to account and providing a strong voice for Scotland at Westminster.
SNP MPs have tabled over 600 early day motions – helping bring attention to the important issues facing local communities, the people of Scotland and the UK. SNP MPs have contributed to the work of 77 select committees, sub-committees, bill committees and commissions, including chairing three select committees.
I Sanderson,
Tarbert.

Parking charges are driving tourists away
Sir,
I have just returned from an exhilarating family holiday on the Isle of Iona. On reading The Oban Times of June 1, I note that under Argyll and Bute Council’s off-street parking places and charges (Isle of Mull) order 2017, I will in future be charged for leaving our vehicle in the currently free car park at Fionnphort.
Diesel and ferry costs for travel from the south of England are about £250 for a family of four, even after the welcome reduction in CalMac fares. I fear that any further charges could be the tipping point – we can be in Normandy for less than £100.
I have no idea what the parking fees will be (the council invites queries on its website, but a search for ‘Fionnphort off-street parking’ results in a message telling me I am not authorised to access this information), but I fear that a seven-day stay on Iona will no longer be in next year’s holiday plans.
Mike Jones,
4 Oak Close, Pinhoe, Exeter.
CalMac must provide Islay back-up ferry
Sir,
The recent problems with ferry sailings from Kennacraig to Islay highlight the need for a back-up ferry on this run during the busy periods.
This time of year is when we need a reliable ferry service the most, for locals and tourists alike.
Along with the recent disruptions to the Jura ferry service, the problems with ferry sailings will inevitably cause further hardship for our island businesses that have to make the most of the tourist season in order to make it through the quieter winter months.
A big thanks must go out to the hard-working, front-line CalMac staff, who did a fantastic job of helping and supporting all the passengers who were affected by the disruptions.
As a councillor, I will continue to press CalMac for a back-up vessel for the Islay run.
Councillor Alastair Redman,
Islay.

Thanks to all the people who voted
Sir,
I would like to thank the near 16,000 people who voted for me last week. We came from third in 2015 to within 1,300 votes of the winning this seat.
My congratulations to Brendan O’Hara on his victory and best wishes for what will be an interesting parliament. Commiserations to Alan Reid and Michael Kelly.
My campaign team, led by John McMurtrie, was unbelievable and I don’t think I have laughed so much as we travelled across the area meeting some fantastic folk along the way.
For me, it is back to the day job and the family I love.
Gary Mulvaney,
Conservative candidate for
Argyll and Bute.

Students exchange reaches landmark
Sir,
Just over 26 years ago a small delegation from Laurinburg, North Carolina, met some Oban leaders at the Rowan Tree Hotel on George Street.
We jointly signed a hastily drawn, but thoughtfully-worded, agreement to begin co-operating for the betterment of both communities.
To our chagrin, no-one really had a clue what we were doing.
The editor of our local newspaper and I were rooming together, and sitting in our room that evening we tossed out ideas about where this agreement was going.
As a summer-long exchange student in 1968 studying in Mexico with two other classmates, the idea to establish some sort of student exchange program quickly became the prime goal. The idea was shared with former head teacher Brian Mitchell, who in turn asked former Oban High School teacher Tom Laurenson to take control on the left side of the pond.
The first exchange started small, with one student and one teacher from our Scotland High School visiting for a week in October, and two students – Nicola Meekin and Lisa MacKinnon (McNeill) – visiting for almost a fortnight in April.
On Saturday June 17, a celebration recognising the 25th annual exchange will be held in Oban. Many former student participants will be there from both sides of the pond.
I truly hate to miss it, but family illnesses are keeping us confined close to home, but one of the greatest honours is know that folks in Oban now understand and even speak ‘y’all’, and folks in Laurinburg and Scotland County are now having ceilidhs.
Best wishes to all of my friends and former exchange students. You have established and continued long-binding friendships at a time when every country on earth needs to starts build bridges of friendships rather than walls.
Beacham McDougald,
Laurinburg, North Carolina.

Drive with more care and consideration
Sir,
Isabel MacKenzie (Letters, The Oban Times, June 1) asks if someone would explain what the road sign ‘Let motorbikes overtake safely’ means.
There are several instances of these (and similar) messages in our region. This is in response to several road traffic collisions and one fatality caused by drivers pulling out into the path of overtaking motorcyclists. The usual cause is because the driver of the overtaken vehicle had demonstrated poor road sense and had not used their mirrors correctly. The Highway Code clearly states what is expected and what is required by law and in summary includes:
1. Before overtaking make sure the road is clear ahead, others are not beginning to overtake you and there is a suitable gap in front of the road user you plan to overtake.
2. Do not get too close to the vehicle you intend to overtake.
3. Use your mirrors, signal when it is safe to do so, take a quick sideways glance if necessary into the blind spot area and then start to move out.
4. If a driver is trying to overtake you, maintain a steady course and speed, slowing down if necessary to let the vehicle pass. Never obstruct drivers who wish to pass. Speeding up or driving unpredictably while someone is overtaking you is dangerous.
This does not mean (as Ms MacKenzie writes) that the overtaken driver should ‘pull over’ or indeed take any action other than continue a steady course.
It is the duty of all road users to comply with the Road Traffic Act and the Highway Code, and motorcyclists are no exception. Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable road users and where a small ‘bump’ to a car driver may be inconvenient, to a motorcyclist it could result in a serious injury or fatality.
There cannot be any room for adversarial behaviour on our busy roads, and whether on two, four or multiple axles, we should be driving defensively and with care and consideration for all.
Geoff Nix,
Appin, Argyll.

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