Letters to the Editor, May 19, 2022

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Scots in Russia

I did enjoy reading Iain Thornber’s article about Scots in Russia. Charles Cameron has always been one of my favourite Scottish architects and I had not realised he came from Morvern. Cameron deserves to be as well known as Adam, Playfair and Chambers.

We visited St Petersburg a few years ago and managed to make our way to Tsarskoye Selo to visit Cameron’s most famous work. The facade of the palace is amazing and makes Buckingham Palace look like a country cottage!

The Agate Pavilion is equally impressive, a beautiful example of neoclassicism.
It was quite an adventure, using Russian public transport, to reach the palace, but the trip was so rewarding and so worth while.
Andrena Duffin, Tobermory.

Thank you

Huge thanks to everyone who voted for me in the recent elections, it will be an honour to serve as a councillor for Oban South and the Isles.

I will do my utmost to ensure you have your say in matters that directly affect you, that children, young people and families are supported, we have a transport infrastructure that is fit for purpose and businesses are helped to develop and grow.

To the candidates that didn’t quite make it … Failure is success in progress.
Willie Hume SNP Councillor Oban South & Isles.

Time to tackle second homes

Your article on housing in today’s edition is not a new found problem. It’s long been a problem in the West of Scotland for good reasonable priced houses to rent and buy.
I feel it’s now time to tackle second homes and houses for holiday makers B&B.
Second homes should bear a quadruple council tax and in the main only properties should be built for owner occupation and social properties to rent.
Gerald Newman, by email.

Islay church plans shock

On my recent visit to Islay, I was shocked to learn that it had been proposed to close Kilmeny Parish Church, along with two other churches on the island, within the next three years.

Although I no longer live on Islay, Kilmeny was the church in which I was baptized as a baby and married in. My extended family on Islay still attend this church on a regular basis.

This Thomas Telford designed building has been at the social and spiritual centre of the community for some 200 years and to close it and sell off the building would be an irreparable loss to the extensive parish. I gather there has been little consultation with the congregation and no consultation with the community about such a drastic decision.

I appreciate that the number attending the church each week has gradually declined but that is true of almost every established church in Scotland but you cannot judge its value to the community simply by counting heads on a Sunday morning. I think that it is in the public interest that the decision to close this beautiful church is more widely known so that steps can be taken to prevent its closure.
James Knox Whittet, Norfolk.

Doctor appointments

I was interested to read GG MacDonald’s letter in the Oban Times of April 21. I absolutely share their view of how hard it is to see a GP these days and I especially dislike the lack of privacy that exists when the person answering your telephone call immediately says, ‘What’s it about?’ and you are forced to divulge your personal medical problems to a complete stranger.

As I understand it, receptionists are not required to take the Hippocratic Oath. This is not the way a health service should be organised and it is not what people need or want.

I know Covid has a lot to answer for but we have more freedom from it now and surely plastic screens could be erected in surgeries, as in other places, to enable face-to-face visits. Masks and all the usual precautions can easily be taken.

Dentists are open again and they are necessarily in much closer contact with their patients so surely it is time that doctors gave their patients more of the service they want, need and pay for.

Any councillor who can help to bring this service back to something resembling what it used to be, will be very popular. It is a very important subject that should be high on all of their agendas.
Nikki and Alex Phillips, Drymen.

Ferry assertions

CMAL’s latest assertions concerning their various critics, that ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’, appear to me to border on defamation. In fact the big development in recent years, in the local ferry world, is the rise of informed criticism about policy, rather than simple complaints about individual occurrences. CMAL, as its attitude demonstrates, seem totally unable to deal with this. So, too, with Transport Scotland, which recently disbanded its Ferry Advisory Group, apparently for the impertinence of actually providing independent advice.

CMAL claims Islay has endorsed its two new ships for that route. Of course they did. It was made sure that nothing else was on offer.

These vessels do seem to be a step forward compared with previous ones, but that’s not really the comparison which should be used. Catamarans have their pros and cons, rather more pros than CMAL is willing to admit, but to claim that such were ever seriously considered is nonsense.

Joe Reade’s contention that this is essentially because of a mixture of corporate dogma and pride seems very plausible.

CMAL/CalMac have for years enjoyed a protected monopoly – at considerable and now ballooning cost – on Clyde and Hebridean ferry services. For this to be justified exceptionally beneficial results have to be demonstrated. In reality the oppositie has been the case, and while bad luck and adverse weather have played their parts, bad judgement – particularly at corporate level – is also evident.

All progress depends on comparisons. We can now find out quite easily what is happening elsewhere, and compare. The results tend not to support CMAL’s case.
Arthur Blue, Ardrishaig.