Gazette Letters July 5th

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AN EDITED VERSION OF FERRY CONSULTATION

Morag Munro’s commentary on the consultation process by CalMac for a Harris Sunday ferry gives a considerably edited version of what has actually occured ( Gazette letters June 14th.)

The process effectively commenced on 8th July 2010, when the most senior Civil Servant at Holyrood responsible for Scottish ferry services, Graham Laidlaw, hosted an open meeting in Tarbert on CalMac services.

Neither Mrs Munro nor any Harris councillors attended. The Sunday ferry issue at Tarbert was raised very volubly from the floor of 24 attendees, in particular in criticism of the empty weekend winter sailings.

A number of residents also spoke directly to Graham Laidlaw after the open meeting for a further discussion.

As a consequence of this, community consultation actually started in Autumn 2010, and on enquiry I was informed by the CalMac Western Isles Route Manager in an email on 13th October 2010: “I confirm that I have raised this issue at the meeting of Harris Transport Forum as a first step in the consultation process.

“For your information, in addition to myself and the local port manager, the Forum comprises of the three CnES cllrs for Harris - Mrs Morag Munro, Catherine MacDonald and Philip MacLean together with two representatives from each of the Community Councils of North Harris, South Harris and Scalpay. Also included is Mr David Smart from CnES Transport Department.”

On 8th September 2011, almost a year after formal consultation commenced, again on enquiry I was advised of the following by the CalMac Route Manager: “The current position is that we have concluded public consultation on the possible scheduling of the ‘repositioning’ sailings from and to Tarbert on Sunday and have submitted the results to our political masters for their views as we are required to do.”

The repositioning sailings duly commenced as revenue sailings in late October 2011, and over the 20 winter weekends were used by 1,500 passengers and around 250 cars, not bad for a four hour trip via Lochmaddy.

This is about the same loading as weekday sailings over the winter, but significantly CalMac, although admitting that the take-up was low, catergorically did NOT state that owing to this the service would not be continued into the Summer timetable.

The problem explained by CalMac was the commitment of the Hebrides to Lochmaddy weekend services in the Summer schedules.

CalMac have recently stated that they have listened to a number of senior representatives of Harris tourism, who have shown concrete evidence that Harris tourism is being damaged economically at summer weekends, and this by extension affects the sustainability of the whole Harris economy.

CalMac have clearly explained their actions in terms of relief of congestion and overbooked ferries, detrimental to tourists and residents.

Clearly Mrs Munro will never change her view that cuture and tradition in Harris can only be maintained by a continued prohibition on Sunday access to the island by residents and tourists alike, a view not shared by the majority of those providing Harris with a tourism industry, with consequent economic benefits for the whole community.

The use of the word “deprived” in Mrs Munro’s last sentence is irony indeed. The Lewis Sunday inbound service has been the most heavily used of the week for the past three years, full of returning residents now able to spend weekends away. No-one appears to have been able to measure any damage this has caused to the quality of island life.

David Clegg, Shrewsbury SY5 9GN

A VIEW POINT

 Providence has a way of altering our dreams says ID Campbell ‘Back to our Roots’ Gazette Viewpoint 28/06/12. 

Nothing wrong with believing we can take over the whole island he says, though I don’t quite know exactly what he means, unless he’s referring to two ministeries serving the east and west of the island. 

He mentions the over stretched church financial resources but what could be happening here is that during the week there’s umpteen appeals for money from endless charities, which it turn, could leave a church goer with less to put into the church funds. 

Reading ID’s point of view he’s been accused while visiting Inverness’s Cathedral of being a cynic, also he’s just back from a gruelling charity cycle run with a north head wind all the way.  One could think he’s still on an emotional high or an over production of adrenalin - taking over the island the two island parishes (a buyout)!

Too many churches too many ministers he says, is it too many chiefs and not enough Indians?  Well Back Church don’t think like that with their 12 new deacons (Gazette 28/06/12). 

Donald Murray, Inverness, IV3 8PD

PHOTOGRAPHS OF SERVICEMEN 

I am acting on behalf of the authorities at the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan, South Korea, where over 800 British servicemen are at rest.

The authorities wish to obtain photographs of those servicemen interred there and also those who died but have no known grave. These photographs will be attached to their records and also displayed in the cemetery hall of remembrance.

The following are just some of the young men from Scotland who gave their lives in Korea.

Pte. Thomas G Hill; Cpl. James R Cron; Pte. Neil G Macleod; Pte. Wm A Baker; L/Cpl. David F Allan; Pte. John W Patrick; Pte. Thomas Taylor; Pte. John C.L. McLachlan; Pte. James Livingstone; L/Cpl. Alexander McIntosh; Sgt. Sterart J Sutherland; Pte. George Hadden; Pte. John K Farquhar; Cpl. Joseph Gallagher.

Any family who lost a loved one in the Korean War 1950-53 and wish to take part can send the photograph to me at the address below.

May I thank you in anticipation for any help you can give on this matter.

James Grundy, British Korean Veterans Ass, 02 College Croft, Eccles, Gr Manchester

NEW INFORMATION WEBSITE

I would like to invite your readers to help me raise awareness of an important new information website for parents which is very close to my heart.

The Brain Injury Hub (www.braininjuryhub.co.uk) provides comprehensive information and support to the parents and other family members of children who have suffered a brain injury. It’s been developed by the national charity The Children’s Trust, Tadworth.

My own experience of brain injury has been widely reported, but of course children can suffer brain injuries too – the causes include road accidents, falls, brain tumours and meningitis. A brain injury can leave a child with lifelong challenges, both physical and mental, and their parents will desperately need support and information. That hasn’t been widely available before, but now the Brain Injury Hub will be a vital resource for thousands of families across the UK.

As a Vice-President of The Children’s Trust I have already seen the amazing work the charity does at its national rehabilitation centre for children with brain injuries. The Brain Injury Hub combines this clinical expertise with contributions from parents sharing their own stories and a forum where parents can talk about their own experiences.

Perhaps you know the parent of a child with a brain injury, maybe amongst your family or friends or at your child’s school. If you do, please tell them about the Brain Injury Hub. It could help the whole family overcome the serious challenges they may be facing.

Richard Hammond, T.V. presenter on behalf of The Children’s Trust: