Letters to the editor – 18.04.19

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Airbnb short-term lets benefit the local economy

I write in reference to last week’s Lochaber Times front page, with one of the main themes being family evictions from privately rented properties which are then used for Airbnb purposes.

Shocking, indeed. The Private Housing (Tenancies) Act (Scotland) 2016 states that responsible tenants in rented properties in Scotland can only be asked to leave if the landlord intends to move into the property him/herself or if s/he intends to sell it.

Therefore, forcing families out is illegal. I would be interested to see how many local families this has affected and if there were other factors involved, such as rent arrears or not looking after the property.

Families or tenants who find themselves in a position like this have every right to take their landlords to task and I think this is something you should have included in your article. However, instead it suggests that Airbnb is damaging our community.

I agree, wholeheartedly, that short-term let hosts should adhere to certain rules, they should not be antisocial, they should comply with legalisation in terms of fire regulations and so on, and they should certainly be paying tax.

I would like to see you include in your newspaper information on how short-term lets are improving our locality. They provide employment for people with young families, who otherwise can’t really afford to work, given the cost of childcare, and they ensure money is kept and circulated in our community, thus hugely improving the local economy.

I would bet that short-term rentals have improved more Lochaber lives than they have ruined. What a lovely, feelgood, community-spirited story to publish. After all, it’s lovely to see a community prosper and even nicer to see that in the local paper.

And, yes, I am a responsible and community-minded Airbnb host who wouldn’t dream of evicting anyone for my own gain.

Siobhan Maclean, by email.

Pennyfuir cemetery is very overgrown and untidy

With reference to Stephen Jones’s letter (The Oban Times, July 4), l would disagree with his opinion that Pennyfuir is one of the best kept cemeteries in the West Highlands for if this is the case I dread to think what the other cemeteries look like.

A cemetery that was once the pride and joy of Oban is now very overgrown with long grass and weeds, and flower beds that used to be in full bloom most of the year are now non-existent.

This is a very sad state of affairs for a once pristine cemetery. Indeed, I spent this morning weeding and tidying up around my in-laws’ and parents’ grave.

Caroline Macinnes, by email.

Jacob’s Ladder in Oban is a mess and blighted by litter

As a regular descender and ascender of Jacob’s Ladder in Oban, I find myself also a regular letter writer on the subject of litter and damage.

I’m occasionally moaned at for being negative, but it’s quite hard to be positive when I walk down the steps and see more broken glass, more bottles and cans, and other rubbish thrown over the fence and more young drinkers blocking the route and causing dismay to passers-by.

It has been suggested that this mess is caused by tourists, but I find this hard to believe.

So I was not too delighted last week to find that a considerable amount of garden rubbish has now joined the tree prunings and unwanted clothing just beyond the fence in front of the top seat. I can be fairly certain that tourists are not involved in this activity.

I feel sorry for the hardy visitors who have toiled up the steps en route to McCaig’s Tower as this will not improve their view over the town. Instead of hauling grass cuttings and prunings along the road and down the steps and then throwing them over the fence, it might be easier and better for the gardener to start a compost heap – now that really is something positive.

On another positive note, I’m pleased to see that several residents take time to clean up the steps and many other places in Oban – not a pleasant job at any time.

Of course, it shouldn’t have to be this way. We must find a way of encouraging residents to be more proud of their town. I wrote to the relevant department at Argyll and Bute Council last April pointing out the problems on Jacob’s Ladder and making some suggestions and am really disappointed to have received no acknowledgement of or reply to my letter.

I suspect that there is probably little point in continuing to write on this subject, but I live in hope that something might come of it, that somebody might come up with an idea that will help to Keep Oban Beautiful.

I see from Facebook that The Scotsman has published a list of the 10 most desirable Scottish seaside towns to live in. Sadly, Oban is not one of them.

Maurice Wilkins, Keep Oban Beautiful.

Holyrood, not Westminster, is responsible for ferries

I thank Colin Morrison for his response to my letter – sorry ‘diatribe’ – about ferry difficulties in the west (The Oban Times, June 27).

He omits to mention which of the isles he is based on from where he can write with such equanimity on the backlog of traffic caused by the shortfall in the fleet.

He rails at my use of the word ‘sabotage’ but goes on to concede that there is incompetence (sabotage by indifference, rather than intent) at play – the result is the same. He prefers to blame Westminster for the incompetence, and more strength to his elbow, but this matter is governed from Holyrood and he tells us that he is content because ‘it could be worse’. Well, there’s a catchy tagline for the Scottish or the Westminster parliament.

My view is it could be better. Angus MacPhail nailed it perfectly in his column recently. ‘Consider living on the mainland in a situation where to and from your house or office (or hospital), the roads were completely shut after 100 cars had passed on that route.

Peter Isaacson, Coll.