Letters to the editor 23.01.20

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Young Robert delighted many of us ‘oldies’

I am sure many of us ‘oldies’ must have been absolutely delighted with Robert Robertson’s old-style Hogmanay on New Year’s Eve.

Robert writes your weekly Glasgow letter and I would deem it appropriate if I can offer thanks to him (and I’m sure I speak for many others) for giving us echoes of what it ‘used to be like’.

Calum Kennedy, Alistair Gillies, Anne Lorne Gillies, a youngish Jimmy Shand, Bobby MacLeod and the Rev I M Jolly (Rikki Fulton) at his hilarious best, were all delivered gently, without any pomp whatsoever, by Robert, a distinguished Mòd medallist and band leader.

Robert visited our accordion and fiddle club when Skipinnish were our guest artists and was reluctant to do a solo for us because he is really a shy, gentle young man, but he did sing Eilidh to our delight and then disappeared without an encore.

Thank you, Robert, and I actually found the Motherwell ceilidh to follow (also on BBC Alba) pretty good too. There were good artists, including the Glenfinnan Ceilidh Band, Art Cormack winning his medal some years back and then  bang up to date.

Good for BBC Alba and Robert Robertson in particular.

Niall Iain MacLean, Inveraray.

Independence referendum should be after Holyrood election

I had a dream after the general election that there may be a more co-operative way forward between the SNP and Unionist viewpoints. Some dream!

In order to avoid the endless grievance and victimhood taking root any further, I believe the UK government needs to adopt a slightly different approach. An independence referendum absolutely should be refused until the next Holyrood election is over. Surely the SNP must understand the importance of the next year for the whole of the UK and  the myriad matters to be addressed.

Despite the fact that some 55 per cent of Scottish residents voted for Unionist parties, it must be addressed that the SNP has dominated in the number of MPs. I suggest that if a similar result occurs in the Holyrood election, the UK government should agree to a referendum.

As someone with a Scottish mum and English dad, we always regarded ourselves as British, so to express this sentiment breaks my heart.

However, despite views that someone voting SNP at the general election did not necessarily favour independence, is there any SNP voter about who does not know the primary objective of the party? And that a vote for the SNP inevitably led to the current impasse?

Should this be the direction Scotland wishes to take, so be it. Perhaps only a referendum will focus minds on the scale of the matter, instead of what is in a minority (and I stress a minority) of cases of anti-English sentiment.

Perhaps a co-operative way forward is just a dream.

Iain Johnson, Stirling.

Grateful thanks for help after road accident

I was involved in a car accident on December 20 and I would like to thank all those who stopped to free me from my vehicle, and to the young man from MacLeod’s who gave me his jacket, water and supported me until the ambulance arrived.

I would also like to thank the police, firefighters and ambulance service for all assistance rendered, and the care and attention from the staff at Lochgilphead hospital.

In these somewhat jaded and cynical times, it is heartwarming to receive the kindness of strangers. thank you

Carla Banham, by email.

Welcome debate on future of Dail Mhor care home

I was so pleased to see a response to my letter of December 26, 2019, from Joanne Matheson of the Joint Community Councils Working Group concerning the failure by the group to mount any sort of effective campaign with NHS Highland for the provision of permanent residential beds at Dail Mhor.

The reason I welcome the response is that I strongly believe that there needs to be open public debate on this vital matter and to that end I would appreciate the opportunity to respond further to the points made.

Ms Matheson avers that I am well aware that the ‘working group’ is fully committed to reinstating full-time residential care facilities. Well, she has now stated that to be the case but in the absence of any mention of full-time residential facilities in any of their press releases or any published minutes, members of the community might be forgiven for having no knowledge of this ‘commitment’.

It is also claimed that I am aware of statutory changes which make it currently impossible for Dail Mohr to deliver this service. I am not at all aware of any such changes but it would be very disappointing if the working group are permitting NHSH to hide behind such a claim. Local people are not interested in the details of the management challenges faced by NHSH in meeting their statutory obligations, only that they do what’s necessary to overcome the challenges and provide the vital service.

I think the aspect of Ms Matheson’s letter which will give local people most cause for concern, however, is the statement that the working group continues to work towards a viable way to provide full-time residential care, but following that with the statement that ‘small-scale, dedicated residential care facilities are no longer viable’. Which is it?

By virtue of our geographical situation and demographics everything in this remote area is going to be ‘small-scale’, but that doesn’t mean that essential services should not be provided or should have to pass some arbitrary test of viability. All our facilities (schools, fire service, police, ambulance and medical care are ‘small-scale’ but the provision is judged on need not viability.

It is widely perceived in the community that the interests of NHSH would be best served by ignoring the need for permanent residential beds at Dail Mhor on the basis of viability. Ms Matheson states that the working group ‘would not like that (permanent beds) to come at the expense of these other services’, but almost without exception, members of the community regard the provision of permanent residential beds as by far the most important service that Dail Mhor should provide and if they had to choose, I’m certain they would choose permanent beds. If the working group are unable to persuade NHSH of this then they should be changing tack from persuasion to campaigning. It’s that important.
Alan Thomson
The Old Barn
Kilcamb Paddock
Strontian

Tenants in rented properties should be able to keep pets

As the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, Dogs Trust believes that the benefits of pet ownership shouldn’t be exclusive to homeowners, but open to private and social renters as well.

With the number of people privately renting increasing year on year, the news that the UK government is looking to make it easier for private tenants to have pets in their homes has never been more important.

Sadly, the single biggest reason we see dogs handed in to our rehoming centres is due to a change in the owner’s circumstances, such as being unable to live in a rented property with a pet. This can also stop people coming forward to adopt rescue animals.

This needs to change and we sincerely hope the proposed updates to model tenancy contracts will help ensure that fewer owners are forced to give up their beloved pets and that more people are able to consider adoption.

For over a decade, Dogs Trust has been working with landlords, letting agencies and the property industry on this issue. It’s important that any updates to the model tenancy contract are backed up with appropriate guidance for landlords on how to put the changes into practice to make it fully effective and mutually beneficial for all parties involved.

We welcome the opportunity to work alongside other animal welfare organisations and the government to ensure this forthcoming change positively impacts the property sector, and that more pet-friendly rental homes become available.

Clare Kivlehan, head of outreach projects at Dogs Trust.