Letters to the editor – week 03

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We are lucky to have such good politicians

This feels like an appropriate time of year to publicly thank our MSP Kate Forbes and MP Ian Blackford for their work on our behalf. Whether or not you agree with all or some or none of their Party politics, we should think ourselves extremely fortunate in having two of the most active and hard-working individuals representing us. Similarly Andrew Baxter should be commended for his commitment and willingness to repeatedly speak up and speak out on our behalf locally. (I am sure there are other Councillors working just as hard elsewhere in Highland, but in South Lochaber it appears to me that Andrew is largely working alone.)

My New Year resolution is to give them all more of my support. That doesn’t just mean thanking them when they do something I agree with, it means letting them know what I think about the issues they are dealing with, whether for or against; asking questions, making the effort to find out more, and writing in support of their efforts when appropriate. They were elected by us and are paid by us through our taxes, and as with any ‘employee’, it is not acceptable to put them in post and leave them to get on with it for five years – they need and deserve our input, feedback, guidance and support, just as we rightly demand the same from them.

Their work impacts our lives in every way, all of the time, whether we like it or not, and whether we are interested in politics or not. I for one intend to show my support for what they do by engaging with the process a little more.

I have no doubt that they each have the best interests of our area in mind, and I would like to thank them all for their efforts on our behalf.

Joanne Matheson,


Seil needs safer routes for pedestrians

I read with sadness of the plight many parents and families trying to regularly navigate the single-lane motorway by Balvicar on Seil.

The local community council has my sympathy and support. As they fight to avoid an incident it’s worth noting that in the wider world the move is now towards a 20 mph limit in areas frequented by pedestrians. The roads here provide passage for vehicular and pedestrian traffic but it seems that an accident has been avoided so far because pedestrians have simply been scared off. And understandably so, for what responsible parent would send their kids on to a motorway every day. If it was a central belt city this happened in the family would no doubt be investigated by social services.

And so the argument becomes about the one trip the locals have no choice but to force their children to make from bus stops to home or school.

But that neatly skips over the main issue of providing safe island routes for pedestrians now cars are so fast and furious none can use the road.

There are a number of old church paths on Seil which have been gradually falling into disrepair.

Reinstatement and extension of these would free locals from the tyranny of the road while providing a further draw for tourists. It would require support and coordination from the local council, local landowners and the community council. It could draw on funding from a variety of sources such as the lottery. It should be accompanied by a pro- pedestrian attitude by the council which ensures pedestrians or cycle based traffic is provided for when roads are created or maintained.

Seil is a beautiful island much loved by locals. However, becoming a traffic island is another matter altogether and something your article of December 21 suggests to me the local council should be doing more to help the community council develop and implement a strategy for dealing with.

And in the meantime and more tactically, anything that any local body can do to safeguard kids should be a priority. The police argument that nothing need be done till an accident happens is clearly flawed. Where children are concerned the precautionary principle should apply.

Martin Goldie,

Balvicar Cottages.

Letter shows contempt for Scotland

I refer to the letter in the Oban Times and Lochaber Times dated December 13 from Andrew Green.

He refers to the European referendum and states that of the total 3.9 million residents registered to vote in Scotland, only 62 per cent voted remain and in his opinion this is hardly a convincing endorsement to remain in the European Union if you take into account the 26 per cent who voted to leave and the 31 per cent who decided to abstain.

Whether people choose to vote remain, leave or abstain from voting is entirely up to them. That is their democratic right. We live under a majoritarian system.

The writer’s other comments show utter contempt for Scotland’s potential as an independent country.

The Conservatives are tearing themselves apart over Brexit. In 2014, we were told by unionists of all colours that an independent Scotland would not be allowed into the European Union. They have now reversed that argument. The one thing that we can be sure of is the reality that if the UK leaves without a deal, other countries will not hold fire on their present agreements to allow the UK to make good on what we lose leaving Europe.

On leaving Europe, no country seeing the disarray in the UK will agree to give the UK advantages of EU membership without obligations. The money men will not suffer half as much as those at the other end of the scale including the working poor.

Anna Soubry, Conservative MP, attacked ‘ideologically driven’ colleagues with ‘gold-plated pensions and inherited wealth’ for ignoring the ‘reality’ of Brexit. She also confirmed that in private conversations those same Tories accepted that hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost but that it was worth it for Brexit.

Despite this, some people still think that Scotland should continue to be a minor player in the shambles which is Westminster politics. It is high time that the Scottish Government called an independence referendum to enable Scotland to take its place along with all other independent nations in Europe.

Bill Clark, Tomonie.