Letters to the Editor – 5.5.22

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Ferry concerns

We wish to respond to two recent reports in your newspaper.

Firstly, in the April 28 edition, an article appeared that was based upon a misunderstanding. Had we been given the right to reply we would have been able to correct it immediately, but we hope to do so now instead by letter.

It was asserted that we attempted to influence the type of new ferry being built for Islay, by publishing a critique of CMAL’s options appraisal. However, as was made clear in our published critique, we deliberately waited until the contract was signed before publishing anything, so that there could be no real or perceived influence on the ferries built for Islay.

We are concerned about how CMAL makes ferry procurement decisions and the competence of their consultation, because Mull is the next island due to have a major vessel replacement. We do not wish to interfere with the good work of Islay representatives, which is exactly why we delayed publishing our critique of the Islay process.

Secondly, in the Oban Times on April 21, Kevin Hobbs, the chief executive of CMAL, made several ill-judged remarks about the Mull and Iona Ferry Committee. The tone and content of his language fell short of basic standards of professionalism and displayed disdain for the island users we represent. It is extraordinary for a public servant to publicly attack the people to whom he is ultimately accountable.

Mr Hobbs also asserts that ‘If people would only ask us, everything can be explained 100%’.

MIFC has made numerous requests for information from CMAL which have been met by a wall of obfuscation, eventually overcome after the intervention of the Office of the Information Commissioner.

The Mull and Iona Ferry Committee will continue to ask questions of Mr Hobbs and we believe we are entitled to measured and detailed responses to those, without the aggressive barbs that have become a hallmark of CMAL’s communication with customers and others.

What is happening in the CalMac ferry network threatens the sustainability of island life. Those responsible need to recognise their role in that, and concentrate on the message, not the messenger.
Mull and Iona Ferry Committee Mull and Iona Ferry Committee.

Deserving causes

Bravo! Martin Laing. I couldn’t agree more that there are many more deserving causes for cash than a monument commemorating a dead deer, however much the animal had intrigued those aware of its behaviour whilst it was alive (Editorial, 21 April, 2022).
I would suggest that providing for living, but impoverished, humans might be thought to be a worthy candidate?
Ian Reid, Oban.

‘Destructive invasive’ daffodils

It is hard luck for a nature lover to have citizens who clear wildlife corridors by their own property. Either for their view, or planting garden flowers, or a lawn and sitting area.

I have sound reasons for objecting, and consider it a personal mental injury witnessing this hurrying extinction of the red alert species by destroying their safe habitat. Unfortunately certain people, and those who carry clout, are unaware of this destruction. They are also unaware of the distress to the truest nature lovers, those who know the value and worth of biodiversity.

Those habitats, full of life, cause no threat to livelihood or thoroughfare, and cause no structural damage, but nevertheless are described as eyesores by those who know better.
Name and address supplied.

Lack of people threatens riding therapy charity

Since 1998 Oban & Lorn Riding for the Disabled Group has run riding therapy sessions from its base in Glencruitten.

Prior to lockdown in March 2020, up to 50 riders per week, of all ages, with various disabilities, enjoyed riding and engaging with the group’s ponies and volunteers.
In the wake of the pandemic the group is now inundated with old and new riders wondering when sessions will restart.

However, post-Covid our committee needs humans to establish a volunteer base and supply committee members. We have the ponies and riders who are raring to go but without people to help we can’t function. We’re also desperate for help with the paperwork involved. The group is stymied until more people actively become involved.

Anyone interested in supporting Oban and Lorn Riding for the Disabled Group should contact Jo Hanlon by emailing: greyscrubber@btinternet.com or call Betty Alcorn on 01631 562527.
Jo Hanlon Oban & Lorn Riding for the Disabled Group acting chairperson, Taynuilt.

Church closures

Regarding the article in the Oban Times on April 28 about the possible closure of churches in Islay, this is happening all over Scotland.

I understand there are financial reasons etc for some of the decisions the Church of Scotland have to make, including not enough people coming forward to enter the ministry. However, breaking up fellowships which have existed for generations and closing churches, especially in rural areas, seems to me to be such a backward step.

Our own parish of Coll, Connel and Dunbeg linked with Ardchattan are uncertain at the moment as to what the future holds. Where is the vision for mission and fellowship in those decisions?

As regards the financial situation, perhaps the Church of Scotland should consider selling off some of their assets, including a very expensive head office in George St Edinburgh.
Irene Harvey, Dunbeg.