Letters to the Editor – 24.3.22

As the rain was battering off our windows as we put together this week’s letters page, this photograph by a member of our team, taken last summer at Kilchurn Castle on Loch Awe, was a welcome reminder that it does actually get warm and sunny here in Argyll. If you have a photograph you would like to share with us, please email a jpeg (1MB) to editor@obantimes.co.uk.

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Homes to help Ukrainians

It was great to see so much concern and activity around assisting Ukrainian nationals and, hopefully, actual refugees in Lochaber and the Highlands in general, find space to meet up (Lochaber Times, March 10).

A couple of thoughts crossed my mind while trying to navigate the mixed, and slow reaction from Westminster concerning Ukrainian refugees – how many? what criteria? IDs, etc – was where can the refugees stay?

As far as accommodation is concerned there will be many folk in Scotland willing and able to take a small family/or individuals into their homes. The Highlands and Islands are also on the verge of domination by second homes, not to mention chalets, holiday parks and cabins.

I would be interested to know if the £350 per month offered to UK families is for one individual refugee and will it also be £350 if someone hosts a family of three, four or five?

It seems the Westminster government will offer local authorities £10,500 per refugee who comes to live in their area, and more if a refugee child is of school age. So, there is some financial incentive to get things moving up here.

I pose the question because of the seriousness of the situation for the Ukrainians, and perhaps for us all, sooner rather than later.

Hopefully someone will pick up on how to help refugees coming to the Highlands and Islands.
Graham Noble, Kinlocheil.

Response to humanitarian crisis in Ukraine is inspiring

The response to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal has been inspiring. In just 10 days [as of march 14], more than £16 million was raised here in Scotland, with the UK total now past £170 million.

Given the horrendous eyewitness accounts we are seeing on our TV screens and hearing on our radios, perhaps we shouldn’t be that surprised: we all want to do whatever we can.

This uplifting demonstration of global citizenship is hugely appreciated, particularly amid rising living costs here. So, most of all, we’d simply like to take this opportunity to say ‘thank you’ for your support.

We are also heartened that so many have heeded our messages, shared by the Ukrainian Associations here in Scotland and across the UK, that financial support for the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal is the most effective way of getting the right support to the right people at the right time.

As well as the thousands of cash donations, big and small from the readers of this newspaper and others, along with those from businesses and local government, we must also thank Scotland’s political leaders for standing together to back this vital appeal.

Thanks, too, to the Scottish Government for their donations and to the UK Government for doubling the first £25 million we received from the public.

Thirteen of the DEC’s 15 members, on or near the front lines in Ukraine or at its borders, are now delivering food, water, shelter, healthcare and counselling to people whose lives have been torn apart. Those fleeing this conflict face a deeply uncertain future.

We pledge to spend this money responsibly with a firm focus on the most urgent needs of all those affected in the months and years to come.

Thank you for placing your trust in us, and our work, just as you have been for our ongoing efforts to support those so badly affected by the recent conflict in Afghanistan.

For nearly 60 years, in times of crisis, the DEC has brought the UK’s leading humanitarian charities together to help people in life-and-death situations. With your continued support, we have no intention of stopping now.

Across the UK, the DEC has 15 charity members, six of its members work collaboratively here during appeals.
Marie Hayes, British Red Cross in Scotland; Claire Telfer, Save the Children Scotland; Jamie Livingstone, Oxfam Scotland; Sally Foster Fulton, Christian Aid Scotland; Graeme McMeekin, Tearfund Scotland; Nadeem Baqir, Islamic Relief Scotland.

Cycling and safety

Yesterday (Friday), I had just parked by the pavement outside the shop on the corner of Argyll Square (it used to be Blacks) got out of the car, walked round to go on the pavement when a cyclist came whizzing past me, crossed over towards the railway station, on the pavement.

Within the next hour, (I was sitting in the the Royal hotel) another cyclist came round past the Royal on the pavement. Of course, not a policeman in sight. When I was out this afternoon, I met a woman on her bike peddling along the pavement on George Street.

I get so angry at these inconsiderate people – a member of my family (not in Oban) got off a bus, onto the pavement, and was knocked down by a cyclist on the pavement. She broke her shoulder.

I feel it is time the police got out and walked the streets to try to put a stop to this illegal behaviour before someone – potentially myself, aged 84, and folk a lot younger – get knocked over and end up with broken bones.
Name and address supplied.

Scottish Government is failing islanders

Living on a Scottish Island in 2022 has become difficult in the extreme due to the lack of consideration the Scottish Government-owned company Caledonian MacBrayne have for our health and safety.

alMac no longer delivers the life-line service we once took for granted, with ‘swell’ conditions and an adverse weather forecast the favourite justification for engaging the health and safety manual, albeit, the cancellation of a ferry is a decision claimed not to be taken lightly. In recent times the ease and regularity of the taking of those “not taken lightly” decisions seems not to trouble those in charge of delivering the service, as people are stranded for days, or weeks, then when a weather window comes around there is no space on the ferry and you cannot get your car on board, even when booked.

In order to get some perspective on the problem, I recently visited the islands of Mull, Islay and Lismore – I could not get to Iona as the ferry was cancelled – and while the ferry situation was high on the agenda, the state of the roads, under the watch of Argyll and Bute Council, was striking in that, evident on the roads are far greater waves, troughs and peaks than those on the sea. Which begs the question, do they all read from the same health and safety manual?

Clearly Scottish Government, assisted by local government, are failing fragile Island communities.
Colin Kennedy, Isle Of Coll.