Letters to the editor – 22.10.20

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A time to reflect

Churches and their congregations in Scotland have been especially hard done by in these virus times, according to Angus MacDonald (Letters, Oct 8). Angus correctly identifies visible and immediate problems for the local congregations. Collection plate takings are down, while expenses continue to accrue or increase, so that some churches face a survival challenge.

C.S. Lewis wrote: ‘God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world’. The sovereign Lord always has a plan and is never surprised by any turn of events. The pandemic has reminded us of our fragility and weakness. We have seen moral and political hypocrisy exposed on a grand scale, so that the evil nature of the human sphere is no longer hidden. We have seen modern science and technology fail to deliver us from a minuscule viral particle.

While we are grateful for the benefits of NHS healthcare, and a relatively high standard of living, the pandemic has fixed our minds on deeper existential and spiritual questions. There are abundant evidences in science for a creator God, and no serious historian doubts the impact of Jesus Christ on human history (remembered in the three paragraphs of One Solitary Life). The pandemic time period, with its lockdown-type restrictions, has gifted us a precious time to prayerfully reflect upon that One Solitary Life.

Dr James Hardy, Belfast.

Can your readers help?

After finding out after many years of searching, that my grandfather lived at No 10 Lundy Road, Inverlochy, I would love to know if anyone in that area might be able to remember him and his wife Elizabeth.

He worked at the aluminium factory and after he and my grandmother divorced, he moved from Muirkirk to Fort William, where he remarried. My mother was only a child when she last saw her father but never forgot him, even though they lost touch.

Neither my brother, sister or I ever saw a photograph of him, so any memory that we could find, however small, would be dearly treasured. My father passed away in 1968  and his wife in 1980, but I feel certain that someone even now would have knowledge of them.

Kate Cartwright, william.cartwright2@btinternet.com

Options fail to address needs at Rest and Be Thankful

As many of your readers will be aware, Transport Scotland currently is engaged in consultation with the public on corridor options for the A83 www.transport.gov.scot/publication/project-corridor-options-access-to-argyll-and-bute-a83/)

We at the Argyll and Bute branch of the Scottish Green party are concerned that the 11 options proposed fail to address the present and future needs of Argyll and Bute, including the need for secure and resilient supply routes to the whole of Argyll and Bute (particularly to its island communities); safe roads across our area; well-maintained roads; roads that go to and from the right places; and a joined-up local transport policy designed to serve the needs of residents, businesses and visitors to Argyll and Bute.  Most alarmingly, the consultation provides no reference to climate change, either as a cause of the current A83 emergency or as a factor to be considered in each of the options.

There appears to have been a process of elimination of options prior the publication of the consultation – for example, there is no reference to rail links, a tunnel, improved ferry services or alternative routes for freight – and it would be in the public interest to make explicit how this process was undertaken, by whom and whether any surveys or studies on the geological, economic, social or environmental impact of each option have been undertaken.

We believe that most of the options presented would be so unfeasible in terms of engineering costs that we would be drawn to only one or two that would appear to offer the least challenging short-term solution for restoring a safe and reliable route in Argyll and Bute. If we are indeed correct in this assumption, then this is a very disingenuous process by Transport Scotland, for it is not a consultation in the true sense of the word.

There is no doubt the need to address the A83 crisis of connectivity is an urgent one.  However, we must not be driven to actions that might bring even greater problems further down the line.  Is it time perhaps for both a short- and long-term solution?

We would be very interested in hearing the views of your readers directly and would invite them to contact Argyll and Bute Greens at argyll-bute@scottishgreens.org.uk

Dennis Archer and Cathy Cameron, Co-convenors Argyll and Bute Greens

Give motorhome owners what they need

I would like to address a few of the issues which have been raised, at times hysterically and inaccurately, in the Oban Times in recent times in relation to “camping” in the Oban area and in particular in Ganavan.

Camper vans are very popular and are unlikely to go away in the short time therefore simply thinking that they won’t come to the Highlands and Islands simply because some locals don’t like seeing them is not going to happen.

While it may be possible to legislate locally for parking restrictions, that is never going to solve anything in the long run and if anyone thinks otherwise, they are being incredibly naive. With a few restrictions, generally speaking parking motorhomes on the roads and lay-byes are perfectly legal in Scotland. Additionally, the ludicrous suggestion of allowing locals to be allowed to issue tickets for campers is something that can’t even be considered…this is an matter for local enforcement agencies and to think that handing this over to people who have a local vested interest will lead to confrontation and unpleasantries which is in no ones interest.

The issues of holidaymakers in motorhomes causing litter and defecating on the beaches is another thing that I’d like to address. Motorhome owners tend to be in the 55-plus age bracket and don’t consider themselves as “campers”. They tend to be pretty responsible and are well aware of the feelings of local communities. Most take the view that the only thing they want to leave behind is the odd tyre mark. They go out of their way to ensure that they take their rubbish with them and leave wherever they are as they found it. They also like, on most occasions, to spend local and generally speaking are in the bracket of having money to spend. (I acknowledge that there are some that won’t spend a penny.)

Modern motorhomes are equipped with almost everything that is required to spend days on end “off grid”. They have toilets, showers, power supplies, fridges, cookers and heating. Do you really think that 60-year-olds parking their campervan at, say Ganavan, is going to use the beach as their toilet when they have excellent facilities on board?

What motorhome owners want, generally, is simply two things: a fresh supply of water and a place to chemically empty their cassette toilet. They do not, as suggested by one of Oban’s campsite owners, expect this for nothing and would be willing to pay for a place to park for the night and have the facilities mentioned. It also makes it very difficult for them to find a place to stay in Oban at the moment when the main Oban campsite in Gallanach can’t even be bothered opening for motorhomes, citing Covid, despite campsites all over the UK being open.

I read that Argyll and Bute Council have suggested that providing motorhomes with the facilities mentioned at Ganavan would cost in the region of £43k with an annual ongoing cost of in the region of £12k to service the sceptic tanks. If the council charged £10 per night and on average there was 10 motorhomes at Ganavan for 200 nights a year, the council would break even after five years and thereafter be making money, not to mention what would be spent locally. This is what happens in thousands of places in France and Germany and is embraced by the local communities in these countries because they are aware of the local financial benefits.

With regards to rubbish and general mess left in the countryside, I would suggest that it is not motorhomers that are the problem, it is more likely to be irresponsible “tent” campers but that’s another issue.

In conclusion, I think that everyone needs to work together to solve the issues raised, and by giving the motorhome visitors what they need it will impact positively of both the local area both in terms of visitor numbers and subsequently the financial benefits that they bring.

Some forward thinking communities in the north of Scotland are beginning to realise this and are providing the facilities mentioned and will no doubt reap the benefits.

Angus McIntosh, by email.