Letters February 9th

Fuel MEETING

Last Tuesday evening (31 January) I attended a public meeting on Fair Fuel Prices, hoping to find out why we pay so much more for fuel here than on the mainland.

After more than two hours of lectures and questions, I found that I had learned nothing new about this.

As someone said, the meeting was all “smoke and mirrors”, designed to stop us from getting to the truth.

What I did learn, however, was a lot more about our current councillors. Cllr. MacSween sat through the entire meeting in silence.

When it finished, he had a private chat with his colleague Cllr . Macleod then, hung around the TV cameras and managed to get an interview.

He said nothing on our behalf, asked no questions of Scottish Fuels, but simply used the opportunity to seek personal publicity, which I found quite disturbing. Cllr. Campbell, the leader of the council and a major customer of Scottish Fuels, didn’t even bother to turn up.

Cllr. Macleod was at the meeting, not as a representative of his community, but as an employee of Scottish Fuels.

When I asked who was responsible for the high prices I was given no answer, but was laughed at by Cllr. Macleod.

When I pointed out that many people on the islands were choosing between buying food and heating their homes, Cllr. Macleod said that he was just an employee of the company and only did as he was told. I understand this is known as “the Nuremberg defence”.

Shockingly, then, he went on to repeat several times that he had been born and brought up on the island. I got the message.

Having been born and brought up in Iran, I have heard this sort of thing before, and it was good to hear the shouts of “shame” from the audience whenever he repeated this.

I suppose I should be grateful that he didn’t go on to call for me to be repatriated for having the cheek to ask questions on matters which don’t concern a foreigner like me.

Bringing up three children on this Island, it seems, is not enough for him. Video of the meeting is available at vimeo.com/35985362 so you can judge for yourself.

After this meeting, I cannot understand how Cllr. Macleod can honestly represent the people of these islands and his employer at the same time, his conflict of interest is far too great.

I hope the good people of Point come to the same conclusion in May and allow him to concentrate on his day job.

Even though, as Cllr. Macleod helpfully pointed out, I was not born on these islands or even in this country, I will be supporting the SNP in the Council elections and in the independence referendum.

I have no doubt that they will represent us far better than these self-serving “independent” councillors we have at present. SUSAN DUNCAN, Stornoway

LOOKING FOR ANCESTOR

I would be most grateful if Gazette readers could help me establish if my great grandfather, who I can only trace back to the 1861 census in Liverpool where he was living as a boarder in a lodging house as a 23 year old mariner was born in Scotland.

Given that many of the other occupants in the building were mariners and from Stornoway, I have searched on the Internet (Scotlandspeople) and other sites for a Donald Macleod (my great grandfather ) and his father George.

Having obtained Donald’s marriage certificate (Liverpool 1868) I have located a possible link with Stornoway insomuch that among literally dozens of Donald and George Macleod’s I have found a marriage record for a George Macleod a mariner residing at Sandwick and Christina Chisolm on November 25th 1833 also a birth record for their child Donald Macleod born in Stornoway December 3rd 1834.

If I can link my great grandfather Donald in Liverpool with his birthplace in Scotland it would be a great help to either receive any information especially regarding mariners and ships trading between Stornoway and Liverpool between 1820 and 1870. STUART MCLEOD, Coventry

PEDAL POWER

I hadn’t realized until now that the Editor of the “Gazette” is female with the lovely name of Melinda! More than that, the “contact us” section of the paper reveals that virtually the entire staff of the “Gazette” is female, and which fact I’m sure contributes to the newspaper’s consistent excellence - girl power effectively in action, and of which arrangement I may say my wife is entirely in favour.

Incidentally my eye caught caught sight of Rev. Iain D.’s name in issue of 26.1.12, though not in his accustomed place on the “Viewpoint” page. This time he was to chair a meeting that would discuss the matter of high fuel prices in the Western Isles, for apparently some earlier meeting generated a fair amount of heat towards the managing director of the fuel distribution company.

We shall no doubt hear in due time how the meeting went, but Rev. Iain I’m sure will be superbly fitted to the task, having survived many a presbytery meeting in the past. Methinks chairing a meeting on fuel prices would be a breeze compared to fending-off blows in the other.

One solution to higher fuel prices might be to make more use of bikes. I recall that pedal power is very dear to the reverend’s heart, for he wrote a splendid article on the subject some while back, so a suitable subject perhaps for chairman’s closing remarks. KEITH FERNIE, Inverness

EARTH HOUR

I’m writing to share news of an exciting opportunity for community groups in the Highlands to lead the UK switch off for WWF’s Earth Hour.

WWF’s Earth Hour is a simple idea that’s become a global phenomenon, with hundreds of millions of people turning off their lights to show they care about the threat posed to people and the natural world by climate change.

In 2011 the event spanned 138 countries with the lights going out on  a thousand iconic landmarks from Edinburgh Castle to Sydney Opera House.

WWF’s Earth Hour 2012 will take place on Saturday 31 March at 8:30PM. Communities in Scotland - be that a school, workplace, street, village, pub or club holding their own Earth Hour event can enter the competition - if they win they will lead the WWF Earth Hour switch off and receive £1,000 towards their switch off event. Runner up prizes will also be offered.

To put yourself in the running, you just need to explain in 300 words before midnight on 27 February 2012 why your event should be chosen. We welcome entries not just from ‘green’ groups, but any groups that are striving to be more environmentally friendly and have a great idea for marking WWF’s Earth Hour 2012.

For full details of the competition, including information on how to enter and full terms and conditions, please visit: www.wwfscotland.org.uk/earthhour

DR RICHARD DIXON,Perthshire