Letters to the editor – 9.7.20

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An ‘aire’ could be answer for Argyll communities

As travel restrictions lift Oban and Lorn is likely to see an increase in campervan traffic and folk enjoying wild camping in our wonderful countryside.

Scotland’s tourism industry will rightly be encouraging Scots to holiday at home to save our tourism industry. There is an old saying that ‘it takes a whole village to raise a child’ – well it also takes a positive community approach to encourage sustainable and responsible tourism.

Scotland’s right to roam carries responsibilities and we must encourage visitors to respect and protect the countryside. Enhancing the infrastructure to support the welcome increase in those choosing the freedom that a campervan/mobile home undoubtedly offers would be a constructive step forward.

OLTA and BID4OBAN seek to work alongside local communities. It is therefore disheartening to hear reports on social media that some community councils have considered legislation rather than education to address this issue.

OLTA and BID4OBAN consider this increased interest in wild camping and motorhome touring as an opportunity rather than a threat. Both organisations would be happy to debate the potential for developing this niche market in a supportive way. One idea that could work well in Scotland is community camping pitches.

The concept of ‘Aires’ is well known and popular on the continent and it could be adapted for Scotland’s rural towns and villages. An ‘aire’ is a low cost or free private camping area (also known as an aire de service in France). They are usually run by the local town council and if they were replicated here, they could increase business to local shops, restaurants and pubs and make a positive contribution to the local economy.

There are already laws that criminalise fly tipping and littering. We do not need more legislation around tourism just at the point when we are trying to encourage visitors back after months of lockdown. Scotland is known for its warm welcome and hospitality. Getting the message right on social media is important and we would urge community councils to adopt a more constructive approach to what is undoubtedly a sector with growth potential for Oban and Lorn.

OLTA will be releasing its own charter later this week.

Linda Battison, marketing director OLTA.

Thanks to pipers across the world who played tribute

On Friday June 12 more than 550 pipers across the world played the haunting march The Heroes of St Valéry from doorsteps, gardens and streets, which recognised the service of the Second World War ‘forgotten’ 51st Highland Division.

These men remained on the continent to fight the Nazis after the evacuations from Dunkirk. Despite their incredible bravery, around 10,000 men were finally encircled and captured at the Normandy fishing port of St Valéry-en-Caux on  June 12, 1940.

The aim of our 80th commemoration was to ensure these men were remembered. St Valéry impacted on every town, village and hamlet across the Highlands and beyond. Eighty years on, those same communities were joined by pipers from across the globe as they paid their respects.

As well as becoming the largest piping ensemble in history, a day-long programme of virtual events, learning resources for young people and social media tribute messages achieved a reach of 169 million people.

The event was supported three Armed Forces community charities: Poppyscotland, Legion Scotland and RCET: Scotland’s Armed Forces Children’s Charity. Each do vital work today.

To each and every piper, we say: ‘Thank you!’ And to those that support the work of those charities: ‘Many, many thanks!’ Most of all, to the men of the 51st, our thanks, gratitude and respect.

Sir Alistair Irwin KCB CBE, president of Legion Scotland and Poppyscotland and vice president RCET: Scotland’s Armed Forces Children’s Charity, and Neil McLennan FSA Scot FRSA, RCET, trustee and convenor St Valéry 80 Committee.

Call on government to retain strict food standards

The second round of US-UK trade talks have just started.  And by the end of them, the Westminster government could well have signed up to allow the US to flood our supermarket shelves with chlorinated chicken.

Leaked documents have revealed that the government is backtracking on their promise to ban chlorinated chicken during these talks.  It means they’re leaving the door open to food from the US that violates our high food or animal welfare standards.

In the US, thousands of chickens live in enormous mega-sheds, surrounded by their own faeces, and even blinded by noxious gases.  In order to make them safe to eat, the chickens have to be sprayed with chlorine.  With our government backtracking, chlorinated chicken is just one example of the kind of food that could be flooding our supermarkets if Westminster sign a trade deal with Trump.

Scotland could avoid this and keep our already strict standards for food quality and safety and animal welfare.  But only if Scotland becomes independent from the rest of the UK and able to make our own rules.

Peter Swain, Dunbar.

Should Oban remember its colonial past?

Should there be a plaque to in Stevenson Street to recognise Oban’s links to the colonial past?

The street is named after the Stevenson brothers who are seen as the founding fathers of modern Oban. They were tobacco merchants who would obviously have profited from the slave trade.

Should the town do something to recognise this?
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