Letters to the Editor – 16.12.21

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Festival success

Many thanks for helping to make the Christmas Tree Festival 2021 successful and safe!
Thank you to everyone who took part by entering a tree, helped with the set-up and running of the festival, with advertising, who donated homebaking and who donated raffle prizes.

We had 1,500 visitors arriving in a steady stream over three full days. Feedback was very positive! Many commented that the trees were more inventive, engaging and fun than ever. Voting turnout was very high.
As you will have read, the visitors’ favourite tree this year was, by a large margin the

Twelve Knits of Christmas by Pat McLeod and Betty Jamieson. Also popular were the Beaver Choir, When Santa got Stuck up the Orchy, the Fairy Tree and the tree from St Columba’s Primary.

The tea stall was busy with visitors enjoying a hot drink and sampling the varied and plentiful cakes and biscuits. Our wonderful homebakers were very generous.

Many visitors also bought raffle tickets. The raffle winners are listed together with the kind donors on the St Conan’s and local Facebooks. Together we have raised over £5,000 towards ongoing restoration and improvements.
Amazing trees, lovely festive prizes, excellent homebaking and a lot of hard work from all involved. Thank you!

With Best Wishes for a Very Happy Christmas,
Liz, Secretary, Friends of St Conan’s Kirk.

Rockfall thanks

After the rockfall on Gallanch Road, Argyll and Bute Council agreed to take on the responsibility for dealing with the situation in order to reopen the road and enable me to safely return to my house, just to the south of the rockfall.

I must sincerely thank the council for taking this on and thanks to Malcolm Cullen for keeping me informed about the progress of the planned operation. Also thanks to Roddy MacCuish and Jim Lynch for helping to put the case to the council for speedy action. And finally thanks to the Geo Rope team and Alchemy Construction for their splendid, skilled removal of the potential threat to road and the house, the removal of the boulder on the road and the one baring the way into my garden.

The residents of Kerrera, and all the businesses along the south end of Gallanach are, I’m sure, grateful for the timely reopening of the road.

Well done and many thanks to all involved.
Jennifer Shaw, Oban.

Fort medical heli pad plans?

I’m glad that plans for the new Belford hospital seem to be moving along at last, but see no mention of a helicopter landing pad: is there one planned? lf not, why not?

I did suggest last year that Lochaber MRT should be moved to where the police station is now, and the police move into the old Belford to get them back into town, but l see that they’re moving the town out to the police station!
Davie Kerr, Onich.

Keeping Oban beautiful

I was pleased to see the report in the Oban Times about the plans to promote Oban as a must-visit destination from 2022 and beyond. The town certainly has much to offer the visitor and it’s good to hear that the facilities and attractions are to be given more publicity.

There’s more to attracting visitors, however, than showcasing restaurants, hotels and marine tourism. We need to sell Oban as a beautiful place to visit and unfortunately we’re just not doing nearly enough.

Once the visitor leaves the seafront and ventures into the hinterland it’s a very different story. Take a walk round the town and anyone with their eyes open will be unable to ignore the litter on the streets, the weeds along the pavements, the filthy and damaged road signs covered in stickers, the rusting broken fences and collapsing walls. To give just one example, the tourist crossing Tweeddale Street to access Jacob’s Ladder en route to McCaig’s Tower will see rubbish spread around the bins, broken glass on the steps, cans, bottles and carry-out boxes lying around the seats and the rubbish of decades strewn down the bank to the back of the Distillery. But it’s when the visitor finally arrives at Oban’s crowning glory, McCaig’s Tower, that the real horror is unfolded. Rubbish in the car park, scruffy and trodden flower beds, huge muddy puddles, broken glass and the usual carry-out debris on the viewing platform and more of everything tossed over the barrier to litter the bank below. It’s not a very good welcome to Oban. ‘Keep Oban Beautiful’ tries hard to stay positive, but it’s certainly not easy!

It’s no good blaming the windy weather, the tourists or even Covid! It’s like this all year round.

Many volunteers all over the town get out and about the streets and beaches with bags and litter-pickers – whatever would the place look like if they decided to give up!

We as a town need to get on and do something about it if Oban’s to be taken seriously as a premier tourist attraction. We need education, encouraging signs, more rubbish bins and a great deal more civic pride! Together we can make a difference!
Maurice Wilkins, Keep Oban Beautiful.

Local democracy

As a candidate in the recent by-election in Ward 21, may I use your columns to applaud the efforts of your paper and the council’s electoral staff in doing their best to engage public interest in this event?

During the canvassing period I wrote a personal note, on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, to many of the registered voters in the ward. There were many that I could not meet in person and I stand by what I wrote. We need as much as possible of decision-making to be in our west coast communities. We need local debate that encourages local participation.

The council’s organisation of the Electoral Count was a step in the right direction. Anyone could tune in to the council’s website to watch the process. This was using modern technology to everyone’s advantage; closing the gap between electors and the election process. Well done!

Finally, I must applaud the active presence of school pupils who had voluntarily given up their Friday afternoon to open the boxes to start the count. We must do what we can to involve our young folk in the democratic process.
I hope that we can see more as members of the Community Councils.
Roger Liley, Dingwall.