Letters to the editor week 05

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People who drop their litter should be ashamed

I agree with Martin Laing (At Random, The Oban Times, January 17) that Oban was looking very untidy at the start of the new year and this generated a flurry of activity on Oban’s Community Forum Facebook page.

Apparently, according to a comment from Councillor Elaine Robertson, ‘there were three bin lorries off the road with breakdowns and no mechanics available to do repairs. But whatever remains of the fleet will be working over the weekend to clear the backlog. On the street sweeping side it’s worse – two road sweepers currently sick and two more on extended absence, but a road sweeping machine should be working in Oban next week’. This was posted on Facebook a couple of weeks ago.

It’s easy to attack the council for not clearing up and, fair enough, there should be a scheme in place to cope with unexpected crises as mentioned above, but surely the real problem, very rarely mentioned, is that there is a certain section of the community who drop the litter in the first place. It is they who should be targeted. I intend to bring up the matter of ‘social education’ at the next community council meeting.

Keep Oban Beautiful cleaned up Hill Street – and several other places – recently, yet when I drove down there soon afterwards there was already more rubbish in the road, obviously thrown out of vehicles.

McCaig’s Tower, Star Brae and Jacob’s Ladder are constantly cleaned up by various volunteers from the community, but unless something is done to prevent this disgusting littering, nothing will ever change. People should have a look behind the new flats at the foot of Jacob’s Ladder – on the bank in the distance can be seen the rubbish of years, and even more is piled up at the base of the distillery wall.

We need more bins, more emptying of those bins and more sensibly worded signs discouraging people from such anti-social behaviour. A few police officers on the beat wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

On the last weekend in March, Keep Oban Beautiful will be organising an Oban spring clean for the second year running, but this is simply a holding operation. We, the community, have to find a way of telling the litterers that this behaviour is simply not on.

A friend in Inveraray told me he was approached by a tourist from Switzerland who said: ‘I love your country, but it is very dirty.’ We should be proud of our town and show our visitors that Oban can indeed be beautiful.

Maurice Wilkins,

Oban Community Council, Keep Oban Beautiful.

Speed limit reduction

Proposed legislation which looks to reduce the speed limit in urban and residential areas has been put out for consultation by the Scottish Parliament’s rural economy and connectivity committee.

The bill, which is being proposed by the Scottish Greens along with SNP backing, could see the speed limit in most urban and residential streets reduced from 30mph to 20mph.

Whether you are in favour of changing residential speed limits or not, it is clear that this bill will have an impact on local communities if it is passed, so it is very important that MSPs are aware of people’s opinions on it.

Several constituents have already been in contact with me about it, so it is vital that all views are taken into account and a sensible decision is taken.
Individuals and organisations can submit responses until January 28 at www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/20mphBill

Donald Cameron MSP, Highlands and Islands.

Willingness to tackle problems

Recently Radio 4 reported the numbers of rough sleepers had risen in England and Wales but fallen in Scotland, a difference it attributed to Scottish Government initiatives.

Since devolution, Scottish governments have distinguished themselves by their willingness to tackle problems that Westminster seems to prefer to ignore. Smoking and alcohol initiatives are cases in point.

I therefore feel that Andrew Green of Ardtoe was being more than a little harsh on the devolved administrations. I haven’t seen any serious evidence that the NHS in Scotland is performing worse than the service south of the border. Often it seems to do a little better in terms of targets to be met.

Nobody will claim that any education service in the UK has no issues to face, but it is a masterpiece of hyperbole to say that the Scottish Government has an appalling record in education, especially against a background of austerity and central government cuts.

I wish the UK economy was one of the most successful of all time, but sadly the indicators just don’t support Mr Green’s claim.

Britain has a long-term, chronic, trade imbalance. We consistently import more than we export. For a time North Sea oil masked this problem but it couldn’t last for ever. There is a real danger that this problem will be exacerbated by Brexit, as we turn our backs on our main trading partner, with a resulting fall in the value of the pound and a rapid rise in inflation.

It should be remembered that Scotland has some very strongly performing export industries, of which whisky is but one. The UK also has dangerously high levels of personal debt, unimpressive productivity levels and large numbers of people surviving on low wage while a few earn more than they know what to do with.

While crude ranking systems make the UK the world’s fifth largest economy, more sophisticated systems rank it about ninth, behind Russia and Indonesia, India and Brazil, but still just ahead of France. Not such an outstanding success.

Should the good people of England consider ejecting us from the UK, I for one won’t be too worried and I have never voted for the SNP.

Ronald Cameron, Banavie.

Debate about deer culling

I am surprised at the response from the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s representative about killing deer on the Rahoy Nature Sanctuary for the first time in 40 years. (‘Deer are damaging to Rahoy Hills Wildlife Reserve’, letters, January 24).

Contrary to Mr Foxwell’s statement, Christopher Cadbury did not want any shooting to take place. I ought to know as I was party to the initial 1975 negotiations.

If, as Mr Foxwell states, parts of the reserve are being trampled, sheep from a neighbouring property are responsible – not deer.

For a century and more almost a 1,000 ewes have grazed on what is now the reserve without damaging it or the plants. Killing the few deer which are still hefted to the ground for purely political reasons, will soon bring about under-grazing which, in the absence of muir-burning, is a far greater threat to wildlife.

Iain Thornber, Knock House, Morvern, Argyll