Letters to the editor week 02

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NHS Highland should hang its head in shame


As secretary of Sunart Community Council at the time of the last attempt by NHS Highland to engineer circumstances whereby it could bring about the closure of the essential residential care facility at Strontian’s Dail Mhor care home, I was involved in the battle to expose its agenda and to secure the continued operation of the home.

It is no surprise, therefore, to read  (The Oban Times, December 21) that the current community council chair has found NHS Highland to be ‘disrespectful’ in its latest attempt to bring about closure of the home for the reason of the building being ‘not fit for purpose’. Its job is to make it fit for purpose and we all know this is merely a term coined to offer justification for the shocking plan to close it.

As it did last time, NHS Highland unashamedly tried to deceive the community with assurances about its commitment to delivering the best possible care system for local elderly people while promising to consult with the community as to how best to achieve that.

The truth is that the six-bed unit is expensive to run and it wants to close it in favour of any other variety of non-residential uses. While such additional uses may be desirable, they cannot be allowed to cloud the acute need for residential facilities at Dail Mhor, and if a six-bed facility is not economically viable, then NHS Highland must increase the size of it, not close it.

I venture to guess that if any of the well-paid NHS Highland managers who are responsible for this lived in a remote area along with their elderly relatives, they might just think it not such a good idea to have those relatives placed in care facilities so far away from the support of their families, where visiting becomes an expensive and time-consuming ordeal that cannot be undertaken very often.

I know the phrase is used more often than it should, but I think ‘they should hang their heads in shame’ is entirely appropriate.

Alan Thomson,

Kilcamb Paddock, Strontian.

Public toilets are vital for tourism


Argyll and Bute Council, in its annual exercise of making what it calls its policy savings, lists 32 options to save in excess of £1.8 million.

I was a member of the council for 22 years, and it was always the tactic of the administration to nominate ‘unthinkable’ options and then withdraw them days before the budget meeting in response to public outrage.

On reviewing the current proposals, one which is unthinkable, unacceptable and which would devastate the tourist industry in Argyll and Bute is the proposal to close 36 of the 57 public toilets. At a time when Scotland is increasingly becoming a global tourist destination, and questions are being asked on how the current infrastructure can cope with the burgeoning demand, a move like this is completely wrong and would lead to Argyll and Bute being considered a no-go area for many tour operators and their customers.

All 36 councillors should consider this when making their budget decisions. Do not close these toilets and remove infrastructure that is key to supporting our tourism industry.

Robert Macintyre,

Serpentine Road, Rothesay.

Litter louts need to learn a lesson


It’s good to see that Sammy’s chip shop in Caol helps to keep its neighbourhood litter-free by having printed on takeaway boxes: ‘Keep Coal tidy – please dispose of this box with consideration.

Sadly, some customers living outside Caol are taking the message quite literally and tossing out the boxes from their vehicle when in another area, as found recently on the side of the A82 near Spean Bridge.

Sammy’s cardboard boxes are perfectly good for recycling, so what is the problem with these people? Will replacing Caol with Scotland provide a clear message that all areas beyond Caol do not want Sammy’s boxes?

Several deer have been hit in locations where different kinds of takeaway leftovers are usually found, so one can’t help wondering if this is attracting them.

It’s about time these persistent litter louts, who usually dump in the dark, begin to realise the risks other people take removing it.

A Robinson,

Spean Bridge.

West Coast salmon need protection


I am in total agreement with Iain Jenner of Nether Lochaber Community Council about the expansion of the Loch Leven site.

As has been reported by SEPA, the data regarding water quality in the local environment, I ask the question: is the sea lice issue taken in isolation of the fish farm? The surrounding area and wild fish are all affected by  the use of chemicals. Is the West Coast wild salmonid of lesser importance to the total rod revenue and jobs than the East Coast? Our West Coast rivers may be of a smaller size but the wild salmonid that they support are of just as important  to the gene pool of the wild fish that still exist but for how much longer is a great concern.

The need to look at the whole structure of the wild fish stocks and the fish farm industry in a holistic review to protect both interest is now well overdue.

Kevin Smith,

Chairman, Ballachulish Community Council.

Columnist displays a very insular view


I always enjoy reading the views of Martin Laing in his At Random weekly column in The Oban Times.

However, I am amazed at his views regarding VisitScotland appointing the services of an English-based PR company.

Surely in this technological age, the physical location of a company is of decreasing importance. As long as the PR company is doing a good job, which in contacting The Oban Times it appears it was, what is the problem?

Or are we saying that no English tourism organisation should ever appoint a Scottish PR company for a similar role, even if it was thought to be doing a better job?

I seems to me to be a very insular attitude.

Ian Johnson,


Gaelic will be left without its soul


I write with regard to a report I heard recently on Radio nan Gàidheal in which David Boag, head of Bord na Gàidhlig, was talking (in English) about Gaelic and its uses or abuses.

As a born and bred Gaelic speaker, I have to say that both Mr Boag’s spoken Gaelic and English were really bad. When we were in school, we were taught in English but our Gaelic was very good, dramatically and orally, as was our English. I now come across people who cannot speak either very well.

Are we going to end up with a mongrel Gaelic community, and a language and culture without a soul? I believe we are well on the way already.

In the future, there will be very few if any proper speakers of Gaelic because, when its speakers are not brought up within its culture, it becomes a mongrel language. How can this be allowed – and with government money too?

Angus Campbell,

Garrynamonie, South Uist.

Poetic account of the Clearing of Inniemore


I read with interest Iain Thornber’s article on the Clearing of Inniemore in your issue of  December 7.

In 2015, when the European refugee crisis was at its height, I wrote a poem on the same subject. I offer it to your readers as a follow-up which may interest.

Refugees 1824-style

(The township of Inniemore in Morvern)

Christina* from Edinburgh,
How vicariously cruel you were
To the smallholders evicted.
Those on whom you forced the flitting
Had lived there for generations,
A friendly neighbourhood
Of some fifteen to twenty homes,
Some seventy-five Camerons.
Both old and young, fit and infirm,
You deprived of the protection
Of their kebars over their heads
From heat of the sun and blast of the wind
And the drenching rain from off the ocean.

Christina from Edinburgh,
You saw not with your careless eye
The mischief that you wrought:
The water poured on hot hearthstones hissing;
The cuinneag dry of milk from cow and goat;
The lame seanamhair, carried by her son,
In a creel up the steep Bealach na Sgairn;
The uncomprehending children walking
Beside those bearing their few possessions;
The pause and the keening at Cnoc nan Carn
As your victims looked back at their loved homes,
Once the creathall of a happy tenure,
Seeing them already stripped and despoiled.

Soon the whistle of the Saxon shepherd
And the bark of his dogs were on the brae.

That was cruel, so cruel, Christina.
You had the power then, but not today.

* Stewart.

Michael G Kidd,

Ceann Pairc, Taynuilt.