Letters to the editor week 23

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Intrigued by wartime account

I found the article ‘Waging war in the islands’ (The Oban Times, Thursday May 17) very interesting.

I have subsequently done some basic research about the sinking of the SS Belgian Prince which, as described, was clearly a war crime with the murder of its crew as reported, if it is a true account.

I can find no record of investigations into this accusation. Was the detained British captain ever released from German captivity? Perhaps he might have added vital information.

The German crew and captain do not seem to have been brought to trial. Apparently the submarine surrendered to the Japanese at the end of the war.

Steve Abbotts,

by email.

Housing on Colonsay is at crisis point

I was delighted to speak to constituents at my surgery on the Isle of Colonsay recently.

I listened to my constituents’ concerns over poor mobile phone signal, slow internet speed, local road conditions and ferry disruptions, all of which are adding to the already heavy burden of many Colonsay residents.

The main source of complaints was one subject and that was the lack social and affordable housing available on the island. If we are to halt the population decline in our rural communities, we need to keep our young people in Argyll and on our islands. That will not happen without decent housing and job opportunities being available to our hard-pressed island communities.

I will continue to lobby hard for more affordable and social housing on Colonsay and across the Kintyre and Islands ward.

Councillor Alastair Redman.

Buyout of Ulva is funded by the taxpayer

Regarding Colin Morrison’s letter in The Oban Times of May 31, I like would say that he is himself being ‘facile and one-dimensional’ over the sale of Ulva.

Jamie Howard, like most other individuals in Scotland, is not allowed the pleasure of accessing million of pounds of taxpayers’ money and there is a good chance that if the island had been left on the open market it would have raised more money for Mr Howard and his family.

The community buyout is, in fact, funded mainly by the taxpayer and it is obvious from other community buyouts that the future of Ulva will rely on much more free taxpayers’ money in  years to come make it viable.

Mr Morrison’s comment that the money goes to only one person, the departing owner, smacks of a rather nasty side to community buyouts. Will Mr Morrison and those in this community buyout group be dipping their hands into their own bank accounts to kickstart Ulva’s future prosperity?

Or will they now be actively seeking grants and subsidies from the rest of the taxpayers in Scotland or our poor councils or other named bodies?

The group’s website, www.ulvabuyout.scot, states: ‘I believe that the people who live and work here are best placed to run the island.’

Wasn’t Jamie Howard one of those people?

Cyril Bonnett,


Why try to attract people when there are no houses?

Your correspondent Colin Morrison describes the buyout of Ulva as transformational, and I am sure that it will be. The only aspect with which I disagree is that it is the taxpayer that will be providing most of the funds.

Despite all of the support for the project that Mr Morrison applauds, I understand that £4.4 million came from the taxpayer and £37,500 from supporters. That puts matters into perspective £0.0375 million compared with £4.4 million! I have studied the business plan to which he refers and it is all entirely speculative, and once again most of the money is to be from the taxpayer.

He states that ‘repopulation is central to our plans precisely because of the acute lack of available housing in north-west Mull and Ulva’. Surely this is a complete contradiction; why try to attract more people to the area when there are no houses for them? In fact, I know that at least one housing association is already planning to build more houses on Mull at various sites on the island.

In times past, islands such as Ulva supported a large population, but most of them lived in dire poverty.

Nowadays it would be much more sensible to locate people nearer to services that they will need, such as schools shops and hospitals. That can be achieved much more reliably and at much lower cost than will be achieved by locating them on a small isolated island.

Professor Colin Davidson,

Tigh nan Eilean, Ardfern.

Rural GP funding pledge is only short-term

Re ‘Chairman moves to reassure patients over new GP contracts’ (The Oban Times, May 31), I find it unfortunate Dr Alan McDevitt has resorted to sugar-coating the real concerns of rural GPs and their patients, which are also being parked until a later date by the Scottish Government.

Dr McDevitt states ‘claims of impending funding cuts are not true’ and that rural practices’ funding is protected. This in the short term, but only for three to five years when subsidies created by the new GP contract will be reassessed.

Under the new GP contract a ‘work allocation system’ is created in the contract. Around 80 per cent of GPs practices in rural Scotland are on ‘protected income status, but this has only been guaranteed for three to five  years.

Dr McDevitt and the Scottish Government need to answer who will subsidise the rural practices after this three- to five-year trial? Will the ever financially stretched NHS be tasked with funding GPs? Or will the Scottish Government continue indefinitely to subsidise rural GPs?

If they had a clear plan, surely they would make it clear now. There is no cast-in-stone commitment to the long-term future of Scotland’s health whatsoever. How can any aspiring GP or practising GPs see this as a sound business footing to work in rural areas of Scotland? It is not.

This new contract only seems to serve the self-interests of the board of the BMA approved by the Scottish Government to the detriment of Scotland.

If readers wish, they can visit a website that gives the real concerns of rural GPs and the unfactored challenges for GPs in rural areas. https://ruralgp.scot/ rememberrural/

Angus Files,

The Glebe, Kilmelford.