Letters to the editor – week 50

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Can NHS Highland’s chairman remain in his post?

How preposterous. On November 28, we see reported in the press: ‘NHS Highland’s board chairman David Alston said: “It is important that we apologise sincerely to anyone who has experience of bullying past or present”.’

Yet back in July 2018, in regard to the GMB union’s stance on an independent report suggesting endemic bullying within NHS Highland, we see him quoted as follows: ‘I am afraid comments like that are just gossip.’

There is no better example of how bullying and opportunistic survivalism became a managerial modus operandi within NHS Highland. Is the current chairman’s position tenable?

Pete Gavin,

We All Need the Heartbeat patient campaign group.

‘Rumble strips’ are needed on approaches to schools

The most cost-effective, quickest and safest way to alert and slow motorists to the safe speed restrictions of 20mph imposed around our schools are ‘rumble strips’.

These are required urgently at Lochnell Primary at Benderloch, Kinlochleven Primary, Connel and, hopefully soon with a new traffic light system in the Millpark area near Oban High School, at all of which I have witnessed excessive illegal speed.

Putting points on motorists’ licences and fines are no deterrent and ineffective. It is only action by authorities which seems to happen too late after someone gets hurt.

Stephen Jones,

Burnside Place, Millpark, Oban.

Highland Council’s Inverness mafia strikes again

The latest fiasco over car parking charges in Fort William illustrates once again the contempt with which Inverness treats Lochaber and other remote areas.

To advise Andrew Baxter and his colleagues that they could discount charges for a short period in the run up to Christmas, then rescind that advice afterwards, is outrageous.

If they genuinely realised that the advice had been wrong, they should have done the decent thing and supported the decision, with necessary system improvements introduced afterwards.

Mr Baxter has again proved himself willing to put his head above the parapet. Councillors from the greater Inverness area responsible for this situation should be ashamed. Too often Lochaber is treated as the poor relation and I shall be writing to councillors and encourage other Lochaber residents to do likewise.

It is not acceptable that ‘Fort William contributes nearly a third of all the parking fees in the Highlands’ (Ben Thompson). According to Highland Council statistics (2016), Fort William has just four per cent of the total Highland population. Inverness has six times the population of Fort William so what on earth is going on?

We need a simple and fair parking charges scheme applied across the Highlands. I suspect that a flat fee of £1 to leave any Highland Council car park, regardless of how long you had parked for, would generate more income than we are doing now.

And Fort William could stop subsidising the activities of those living in our city.

This situation is not only an affront to democracy, it is an affront to fairness and decency.

The greater Fort William area is in need of investment, which would enable it to make a significant contribution to the economy of the Highlands as a whole. The utter short-sightedness (dare I say stupidity?) of the councillors unwilling to acknowledge this is beyond belief. They were elected to represent their own constituents, but not to the detriment of their neighbours and the prosperity of the region.

Joanne Matheson, Acharacle.

England should vote on letting Scotland stay in the UK

I read with interest John Gosling’s letter in the issue of November 29.

It is unfortunate that he and his ilk, including the BBC, continue to peddle the fake news that 62 per cent of the Scottish population voted Remain in the Brexit referendum. The actual position was that out of 5.4 million residents 3.9 million were registered to vote of whom 1.7 million (43 per cent) voted to remain, 1.0 million (26 per cent) voted to leave and 1.2 million (31 per cent) were so unimpressed either way that they failed to vote at all. Hardly a convincing argument for anything.

He then goes into a flight of fancy by suggesting that by achieving independence from one union and staying in another, even if the EU let us, given the budget deficit of £13 billion last year and the SNP’s ever-increasing need to borrow money, Scotland would become great again, notwithstanding the present government’s appalling record on running education and the health service.

It may now be time for the English to have a referendum on whether or not to let us stay in the UK, one of the most successful economies of all time, and it would not be surprising if they voted to throw us out, complete with our ever-whingeing leaders. Woe betide our country and economy then.

Andrew Green,

Dal Ghorm House, Ardtoe.

Resurfacing of road in Onich was unnecessary

I was rather surprised to see the road surface of the A82 opposite Gollanfield in Onich being renewed recently, and I’m just wondering why?

I live locally, have used that road on average about three times a week for the past 13 years, and have never had any problem with that particular bend or anywhere else between Corran Ferry and North Ballachulish. What was the alleged problem?

In all honesty, I think the surface now is worse than it was before, and I’m sure there are other stretches of the A82 much more in need of resurfacing than that bend.

Davie Kerr, Onich.

Lack of investment in housing is not good news

Argyll and Bute Council is presenting its updated housing plan as good news, but I am disappointed at the low level of investment in affordable housing being provided to Argyll and Bute by the Scottish Government compared with 10or 12 years ago when annual investment in housing was well over £20 million.

If we look back to 2006, funding was £21.9 million. When we compare that with the 2018/19 allocation of £16.1 million, it can be seen that this is a massive cut of more than 25 per cent. Where we would expect the council to be receiving much more for housing from the Scottish Government than it did 10 or 12 years ago, we see that the next two years are not much better with allocations of only £17.1 million and £18.2 million, well below the levels of funding the council received in the past.

Because of these ongoing cuts in investment for housing from the Scottish Government, the council was informed that it would have to contribute £1.9 million each year for the next three years from its the Strategic Housing Fund.

As this fund is council taxpayers’ money, I informed the council that I believed it was unacceptable that council taxpayers across Argyll and Bute were having to subsidise affordable housing to the tune of almost £6 million due to the cuts in funding for affordable housing from the Scottish Government.

The spin that the Scottish Government puts on this is to say that it is now putting funding into building council houses. What it does not say is that it is taking funding from housing associations to do that. Even the council should not be spinning this as good news.

Councillor George S Freeman, Ward 9 – Lomond North.