Gazette letters 11/10/12

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NINE PENCE FUEL REDUCTION

I think everyone deserves an explanation of the events that led up to the nine pence reduction in the fuel prices at the Back Filling station recently.

We were under contract to Scottish Fuels for five years as are most filling stations on the islands and beyond.

This forbids the filling station concerned from buying fuel (even if it’s cheaper) from a rival supplier. In fact there is an agreement in place between wholesalers that one won’t sell to any filling station that is in a contract with a rival wholesaler.

We know this because we bought a single cheaper load of Highland Fuels last February that prompted Scottish Fuels to get in touch with them to cease any further supply to us as we were in an alleged contract with them. At that time in February we had to return to buying the price inflated fuel from Scottish Fuels.

However we have been chipping away at them ever since about the content of this alleged agreement and lo and behold on the 10th September 2012 they clearly breached the terms of their own alleged agreement. (Details confidential at this stage)

This breach of contract was heaven sent for us as we were now in a position to claim their contract void and we were as a result able to buy fuel at the cheapest price (spot price) and pass the savings on to the public.

Once we were confident of the breach of contract we phoned Highland Fuels and asked for a price and a delivery on that day. To our astonishment they could supply us with fuel eight pence a litre cheaper than Scottish Fuels were doing.

If you take the eight pence reduction in cost price and add to it the VAT on the reduced amount then we were able to reduce the price by nine pence a litre. Scottish Fuels is on record as claiming to the OFT that they only make 2.4 pence per litre in the islands. Now ask yourself this question. How can Highland Fuels sell it to us eight pence a litre cheaper than Scottish Fuels?

The resultant explosion from the price reduction took us and I think the whole Island by surprise. The messages of support have been overwhelming with customers coming from all over the Island to offer their support. It is obviously a very contentious issue on the Island and we will endeavour to make our dealings in it as transparent as possible.

Gordon Maclennan, Isle of Lewis HS2 0JS

THE ELEPHANT IN THE SITTING ROOM

Being a lover of nature and in particular of the sea, which I sail with pleasure every summer, I have been observing with great sadness the depopulation of birds in the wee islands that surround us.

It also seems to go parallel with the depopulation of fish (surprise, surprise) and the depopulation of the seabed. People who don’t go to sea seem to be unaware of this, so nobody talks about it.

One would expect the fishing industry to be self regulatory. That would be the intelligent thing to do. But no, greed is stronger and they keep on ploughing away.

Any diver can tell you what the seabed looks like where these machines, helped by modern technology, do their job: they look like the Sahara. It has been on the telly already.

What is behind this lack of environmental awareness on such a big scale? They are killing the sea life around Skye (maybe in other places too) on a massive scale – DEAD.

You can go to jail for stealing an eagle’s egg – kick a dog in the street and see what happens or shoot a goose. Yet destroy the entire eco-system of the Isles in the name of an industry that turns over a piddling £114.5 million a year and creates some jobs then you seem to get grants, technology and compassion if there are no fish to catch left in the sea.

Most of this money doesn’t stay here, and the jobs will be lost anyway as fishing becomes a thing of the past.

This is not just another news item, it is just here and now, where we live and breathe. Lovely wee islands where all sorts of sea birds nested, reproduced, caught fish, are almost empty, except for the odd shag. Mackerel that abounded in every corner are becoming rarer, as are seals and puffins are just not puffin anymore.

I don’t know the answers to these questions, yet awareness is a first step. Make sure your favourite environmental politician/quango/journal/newspaper knows what’s happening and how you feel about it.

Cancelling fishing licences that are not being used, would be a second. Stopping the huge boats coming from the East of Scotland (or elsewhere) would be a big third.

Ban trawling in spawning areas, four – this is just common sense. The RSPB is on the case too.

Again, I don’t have the answers, maybe you have. Maybe someone who is a diver can film what’s going on down there?

Have a look at: www.facebook.com/environmentalfishing

We have started this facebook page with the thought of raising awareness and getting people to talk about this elephant in the sitting room issue.

Teo Becu, Isle of Skye IV49 9AE

APPRECIATE HIS THOUGHTS

In Mr. Calum Wallace’s letter of 27.9.12 he makes mention of Rev. Iain D. Campbell who pens the Gazette’s Viewpoint column, and suggests that instead of “keeping his powder dry” Iain might consider responding to those who, via the letters page, make comment on his writings.

I think Mr. Wallace has a valid point, for as he rightly observes, the freedom Iain has in compiling the Viewpoint column brings with it a measure of responsibility towards his readership, some of whom may wish to respond via the letters page, and would appreciate his thoughts.

Replies from Iain would be welcome, if not on the letters page then perhaps from time to time incorporated into his ever-interesting weekly column.

Keith Fernie, Inverness IV2-3RW

WONDERFUL SCHOOL

Wonderful school

Our thanks to the Comhairle for giving us that beautiful school in Daliburgh.

Everything about it, both inside and outside, is wonderful.

Thanks also to everyone involved in the design and construction. The children love it!

Margaret Maclennan, Isle of South Uist

EXPENSIVE KINDLING

Some people are making money out of arthritic pensioners who can no longer chop up their own kindling sticks.

Who else but pensioners would by such expensive sticks, when the price goes up and the bags get smaller and smaller!

In winter we old people need a cheerful fire because we cannot go out in cold, dark weather.

Mrs V.A. Hopcraft, Barvas HS2 0PQ

WINGS APPEAL

With the culmination of the annual Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA) Battle Of Britain Wings Appeal for 2012 held during the week 10-17th September. I would like to express the gratitude of the Chairman, Committee and members of the local Stornoway branch for the generous response from the Public of Lewis and Harris.

Our thanks and appreciation also go to the local 1731 (Lewis) Squadron, Air Training Corp. (ATC) whose cadets very ably assisted RAFA members to collect donations on Saturday 15th Sept our Flag Day, and to all the retail shops and business in Stornoway who participated by way of having collection boxes on their premises many who collected through out the whole of the year.

The RAFA is a charity whose twin aims are welfare and comradeship for serving and ex-serving members of the Commonwealth air forces, and the monies raised go towards helping service members, and ex-service members and their dependants.

May I again say a big ‘thank you’ to all who helped and donated to this years RAFA appeal.

Peter Avis, RAFA Stornoway

BT INTERNET RANGERS AWARDS

BT has launched a search across the Highlands and Islands to find and reward young people who are helping older generations to embrace the internet.

We’d like your readers to tell us about local schools and children aged under 16 who’re dedicating time and effort to teaching older people basic IT and internet skills.

For many of us, going online is second nature. But those who lack the basic skills to feel confident on the web could miss out on potentially life enhancing benefits.

The BT Internet Rangers Awards seek to recognise young people who are helping to bridge that generational and digital divide. Past winners have shown us that anyone can reap the benefits of the internet, no matter what their age or circumstances.

Four UK national winners will each scoop an iPad or laptop and £100 worth of IT vouchers. Schools helping older people in their local community to make use of the internet could win cash prizes worth up to £4,000.

If you’d like to nominate an individual or school who is making a difference, please complete an online application form at www.bt.com/internetrangers before Friday 2nd November.

Brenden Dick, Edinburgh EH12 9DH)

SAVING THE UNION

PM David Cameron declared recently that saving the Union is his first priority!

All of the Scottish electorate will hold PM Cameron to the promise he made should he be elected as Prime Minister.

He said that he would readdress the questionable legality of the 6.250 sq.miles of Scottish North Sea waters taken by the then Labour Party in 1997, now deemed as English Territorial waters. There is no doubt that this will become a referendum issue in two years time.

Too many of our kin gave their lives in two World Wars for our land and seas!

Donald J Morrison, Portknockie AB56 4NT

EDITORIAL - OFT VISIT TO ISLES

Fuel prices in the Western Isles continued to grab headlines this week with the arrival of representatives from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) who are conducting a six week information gathering exercise to establish if a fair market-place is in operation for residents.

Details on how this information will be gathered were a bit thin on the ground as an OFT spokesperson dismissed enquiries with: “We will not be offering a running commentary”.

However the OFT representatives did meet at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar offices in Stornoway with the Council’s Fuel Group, with Island MSP Alasdair Allan, MP Angus MacNeil, fuel retailers and fuel lobby group Fair Fuel Solutions.

With some retailers already able to offer a better deal to island motorists it’s clear that more competition in the area of fuel supply is required. Let’s hope it doesn’t take too much longer before that becomes a reality.