At Random with Martin Laing

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The new pontoons were officially opened at Oban’s North Pier last week, and make a very welcome addition to the provision of amenities for the sailing community in this area, as we report elsewhere in today’s newspaper.

Last week I was critical of Argyll and Bute Council holding the belated ceremony to officially open the new facility, having held an impromptu opening event a few weeks ago, and several weeks since boats began to use the berths.

And that criticism brought a surprising response from the head of the council’s communications team. She complained to the editor about me having a go at the council on a regular basis.

Let me assure her, and you readers, that I fully intend to continue to scrutinise the local authority and the ways in which it spends our hard-earned money.

For anyone being paid from the public purse to object to that kind of critique is, frankly, ill-conceived. It is precisely the role that we local journalists are expected to fulfil and we will go on doing so.

And, by the way, I have been one of the first to heap praise on the council on many occasions – including in recent times over the installation of the new pontoons – when its actions merit it.

Argyll and Bute Council does much that is excellent and in the best interests of all of us who live in this great part of the country.

However, it gets things wrong, too, and I am equally quick to point out what I believe are its errors – one of which is for its senior officers to complain about being held to account.

Band is brilliant

Isn’t Oban High School Pipe Band absolutely fabulous?

The hugely talented young people who make up the band have been showered with prizes, trophies and praise this summer as they have swept to a string of top titles, including Champion of Champions and runners-up at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow.

This outstanding success comes as a result of a great deal of hard work by the boys and girls and their tutors. They deserve all the plaudits visited upon them for the effort they have put in.

So it was great for the town to able to cheer them to the rafters last Wednesday when they paraded from the Corran Halls to Station Square.

Local people and visitors turned out in large numbers to celebrate with the band, which sounded fantastic as they played their way through the centre of Oban. They put on a thoroughly stirring performance, played brilliantly and looked magnificent

Long may their success continue.

Home at last

It was extremely pleasing to be able to report last week that Laura MacIntyre has finally returned to her home in Barra after months in hospital.

Laura was seriously injured in the Manchester Arena bomb atrocity back in May, in which her close friend Eilidh MacLeod was killed.

Laura has undergone months of treatment in Manchester and Glasgow but has now recovered sufficiently to be restored to the island. Her mum and dad, Nan and Micheal, said she has ‘amazed’ them with her ‘bravery and strength’ and that they are ‘delighted’ to have her home.

We are all delighted that she is back at home and hope that her recovery continues. She is now in the best place possible.

What do you think?
Write to me at mlaing@obantimes.co.uk or The Oban Times, Crannog Lane, Oban, PA34 4 HB.