Gazette Letters June 4th

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Have your say

Calmac policy

We were recently unfortunate enough to have a breakdown the day before we had to return on the Calmac Uig to Stornoway temporary ferry route.

Our car was booked and paid for on the boat but because it broke down the day before there was no time to get it fixed and we had the RAC recover it.

We had been told that they would not cover ferry costs which is fair enough and not part of their service anyway. We were also told that the only way not to incur a hefty return ferry charge for the recovery vehicle and driver, which we would have to pay ourselves was to get the contractor to drop the car on the car deck and that the RAC would organise another contractor to come onboard in Stornoway to take it off which they did.

This was all set in place until we took it upon ourselves to contact the Uig office only to be told that the vehicle could not be put on the car deck if it wasn’t running or under its own power.

Even though we pleaded with them and said that this was organised by the RAC and that there was absolutely no chance of a no show at the other end they still insisted that the recovery vehicle and its driver would have to accompany the vehicle and we would need to buy a separate ticket for that.

The vehicle could just as easily have broken down going onto the ferry, in the carpark or when coming off and I was officially informed the crew would have helped us out in that situation.

I’ve lived in the Isle of Lewis for most of my 47 years and have had countless trips on the ferry and I’ve seen vehicles of every description towed on and off.

I’ve also seen artic trailers taken on dropped on the deck and towed off many times which is now standard practice on the Loch Seaforth and there were several in Uig that night waiting to go on one of the sailings or waiting to be picked up.

It therefore seems hypocritical not to allow us to drop the car on the deck and then have it lifted off at the other end when they’re doing it for commercials all the time.

We were put into this situation through no fault of our own and they left us with little choice but to pay for the ticket. We were fortunate enough this time to be in a situation where we could afford to do that.

Had this happened a month or six weeks ago when we were away last I don’t know what we would have done because we certainly couldn’t have afforded to pay the cost of a return ticket for a transporter and driver.

It seems to me very unfair that knowing their customers are left with little choice but to pay the ticket they are taking full advantage of an already stressful and unhappy situation just for the sake of a ticket sale.

Ian Macdonald

Stornoway

Distillery warehouse

You would have needed a magnifying glass to spot the Distillery Warehouse in the photograph in last week’s Gazette item.

Unfortunately - owning a small, traditional but 5 star self-catering cottage located in close proximity to this ‘large scale development’ in Ardhasaig - I need no such thing; a blindfold would be more appropriate.

Having lodged an objection, I was assured by the distillery that this building would be constructed to ‘blend in’ and that a goose-wing grey colour had been selected for this purpose.

Instead of this, a “monstrous carbuncle” in the form of an enormous, overpowering, green, agricultural- looking building has reared its ugly head immediately behind my little cottage – much to the horror of many returning guests this year.

What was once a view from the sitting room window towards a setting sun sky, now contains the slab sides of an unpleasant, industrial- sized and ugly construction.

I appreciate that the advent of a distillery to the Isle of Harris bodes well for local jobs and indeed for tourism. However, unlike the local crofter and business man quoted, who may have received some remuneration for making the land available, I am most definitely not in the market for laying down even one £2,000 barrel of whisky and certainly not in that hideous building.

By way of protest I shall definitely have to limit myself to the sole consumption of the gin they will also be distilling down in Tarbert – which does not require a warehouse to be matured in – and hope that the agricultural green might morph into that elusive goose-wing grey. Come to think of it, a compensatory barrel of gin too would not go amiss!

I have no doubt that I may be lambasted as a local NIMBY but, when my ‘back yard’ happens to be the place where visitors and locals alike used to be able to take a peaceful stroll, with the possibility of spotting plenty of local wildlife and with an amazing view west towards the Atlantic, I am at a loss to understand why somewhere a little more discreet could not have been identified.

Linda Wood

Tarbert

Better things to do

In reference to the letter ‘Dismay over care’ (Gazette Letters May 28th)

As the (legal) owner of the “Old Grey Connemara Mare”, I can only agree wholeheartedly with Mr Macleod’s sentiments regarding The Comhairle’s squandering funds from the Public Purse, on this matter!

I cannot count the number of times, since not only February 2014, when Lady was ‘taken’, but also during the 2 years prior, during which I was hounded by the Council, that I emphatically have said, “Doesn’t the Council have BETTER things to do?”

But then, what can you expect from those who spent £160,000 on unnecessary refurbishing of their reception area?

This issue is NOT over, and so you must forgive me, and my legal team, for continuing to fight for what is right.

Unless the Comhairle really does not care about the Welfare of its people, then the “squandering” of monies, better spent on more important issues, will escalate to an obscene amount.

Meanwhile, my pony is miserable. I am miserable. And, probably, the elderly gentleman Mr Macleod wrote about in last week’s letter is miserable too!

Perhaps I can balance up things by offering to help, in any way I can with this gentleman/citizen, in real need.

Stephanie Ann Noble.

Back

Construction sector

New figures released as part of the Annual Population Survey show there were approximately 176,500 people employed in the Scottish construction sector last year, around 58,500 fewer than were employed in 2008 when industry employment hit a peak of 235,000.

These new employment figures come hard on the heels of recent output figures showing Scottish industry output hit an all-time high of £11.9 billion in 2014.

As the value of industry output has spiked, it is striking to observe that industry employment has failed to keep pace.

As a consequence, every £1million of industry output generated now supports 15 Scottish construction jobs, whereas the same output value would have supported 22 jobs back in 2004.

On current levels of industry capacity, these record-breaking output figures are simply unsustainable. It is encouraging that levels of industry employment have finally begun to rise in 2014 following five years of steep decline.

But without suitably balanced growth across all sectors, a decoupling of jobs and output will continue, placing the industry’s long-term recovery at real risk. The public sector has an important role to play by prioritising procurement and project funding decisions that maximise direct employment within the industry.

Vaughan Hart

Managing Director

Scottish Building

Federation

Climate change

David Cameron was right to put climate change back on the agenda with this week’s Queen’s speech. But as the world prepares to reach a global climate deal in Paris later this year, we need local and national action as well as words.

Climate change is real, and is happening now. It poses a grave threat to the things we love in the UK, and especially to many of the world’s poorest people.

That’s why the Climate Coalition has come together to organise the first mass lobby of the new Parliament. Thousands of people will meet their MPs in a friendly festival atmosphere to ask politicians to come together to tackle the issue.

This means ending our reliance on fossil fuels by investing in renewable energy, protecting natural habitats, helping developing countries adapt to climate change and helping people in the UK make their homes and businesses energy efficient.

We’ll be joined by farmers, rowers, skiers, doctors, nuns, priests, anglers, birdwatchers and many more people from every walk of life and all political points of view. Please join us too, in London on June 17th.

For more information about our Climate Coalition, and how to arrange a meeting with your MP, visit: WWW.fortheloveof.org.uk/speakup

David Nussbaum, Chief Executive, WWF-UK

Loretta Minghella, Chief Executive, Christian Aid

Mark Goldring, Chief Executive, Oxfam

Matthew Frost, Chief Executive, Tearfund

Chris Bain, Director of

CAFOD

EDITORIAL - Keeping Gaelic strong and healthy

You know when summer is well and truely here (despite the weather) when the local Mods start being held.

This week we are featuring a spread of photos and a report from the Uist Mod (page 13) which attracted 300 children to its various competitions.

At the time of going to press the ever popular Lewis Mod is taking place and we will be featuring a spread of material from that event in our next issue.

With the Harris and Barra Mods also scheduled before the end of the season Island children are being well practiced if they are aiming for the Royal National Mod, which will be taking place in Oban in mid-October.

Even if that is not the aim for the children taking part in the local Mods the Island events offer these youngsters the opportunity of strengthening their skills in Gaelic and taking those language skills out of the classroom and into a social situation.

It has long been recognised that if Gaelic is to thrive and grow in the future social use of the language is just as important, if not more important, than time spent utilising it in the classroom.

If you would like to comment, or write a letter on this topic, or any other please contact me at: news@stornowaygazette.co.uk