Gazette Letters: 12-3-15

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Wrong impression of Harris

In the section “Police Files” in the Gazette of 5th March, your overall headline, in bold letters almost an inch high, read “Harris thieves switch wheels on parked car”.

I would hope that those who know Harris and her people would re-read this to mean something like Thieves switch wheels on parked car in Harris.

However, there’s another unfortunate side to this: I’m sure you would rightly claim that your paper is read well beyond these islands, and by some who don’t know our islands. That being the case, would you not agree that this headline as it was published might give what I will charitably call “an unfortunate impression” of Harris?

The twin realities are that while all communities, including our islands, have their quota of black sheep, we are nevertheless privileged to live in what are probably the most trustworthy and trusting communities in the world, with Harris very prominent, if not leading, that roll of honour. Where else could locking my door when I am away from home for days on end condemn me to feelings of guilt that doing so might imply that I don’t trust my neighbours? Where else could I dare to state that fact in a newspaper?

I wholly accept that the first reading of this headline was not the impression you intended to give; nevertheless it is an example of the potential of sloppy writing and careless supervision to promulgate, at best ambiguity and at worst completely false impressions.

I hope you will publish this to dispel any unfortunate impressions, and that you will instil into your writing and editing staff the very necessary cautions implicit in wielding the power of the written word.

Hamish Taylor

Chairman, South Harris Community Council

Crown Estate

With the ink hardly dry on the report from the Smith Commission, it is bizarre to note that the UK Crown Estate will be able to build up a new portfolio in Scotland after the devolution of the existing function to Scotland (6th March).

It appears that following an agreement with the UK Government, the UK Crown Estate would still be able to make new investments and build up a new portfolio of land in Scotland – the surplus revenue of which would flow to the Treasury rather than to the Scottish Government.

Despite what was agreed by all the parties in the Smith Commission, the Westminster Government has unilaterally decided that the UK Crown Estate should be able to continue to buy up land and assets in Scotland – with all the revenue flowing to the Treasury in London rather than benefitting people in Scotland.

In effect, the UK Government’s plans would mean there are two Crown Estates operating in Scotland at the same time, a quite ridiculous state of affairs.

The UK Government simply can’t get away with this ludicrous plan which goes entirely against the spirit of the Smith Commission proposals. It is vital that full responsibility for the Crown Estate and its assets are in Scotland’s hands- rather than allowing the UK Crown Estate to continue exploiting Scotland’s wealth and assets as if nothing had changed.

Alex Orr


Volunteers for Hebridean

Whale & Dolphin Trust

Conservation charity Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust is recruiting volunteers from across the UK to join our 2015 marine research expeditions, onboard our specialised yacht Silurian – previously used in the filming of the BBC’s The Blue Planet.

Volunteers will work alongside marine scientists in the only scheme of its type in the country – developing skills, conducting pioneering citizen science and exploring Britain’s wild and remote corners. Such surveys have discovered that Hebridean waters are home to the UK’s smallest known resident population of bottlenose dolphins and only known resident group of killer whales.

This research off western Scotland is an excellent opportunity to help secure the future of our whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks. For details and costs, please contact us on 01688 302620, email or visit

Morven Russell

Volunteer Coordinator

Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust


Isle of Mull

Spotlight on epilepsy

What are you doing on Thursday 26 March? Are you part of the wave of Purple Day fun activities sweeping the nation to draw attention to epilepsy?

Last year our social media supporters decided to turn the spotlight on Purple Day. Thanks to their efforts, iconic landmarks including The SSE Hydro, Falkirk Wheel and Oban’s McCaig Tower were lit up in violet tones to get people talking about epilepsy. We hope even more buildings will glow purple this month to help us highlight this often hidden and stigmatising condition.

Around 54,000 people in Scotland have epilepsy and it can happen to anyone at any age. That’s why schools, colleges, communities and workplaces across the country are getting involved in raising awareness. We expect thousands will take part, whether it’s wearing purple clothes and taking selfies for our web photo gallery to making purple cupcakes, holding quizzes and providing information – all so people are more informed about epilepsy. Many MSPs intend to wear purple emblems on 26 March and will be tweeting #purpleday messages of support. Why not join in and get a free Purple Day pack? You can be part of this and help us change how people look at epilepsy, forever. For more details call 0808 800 2200 or go online:

Allana M Parker

Epilepsy Scotland

Nominate your local project

We would really love to hear from your readers about their favourite National Lottery projects and the great work they do for their community.

If you believe they deserve national recognition then please nominate them for a National Lottery Award .

The Awards provide a platform and profile for organisations – big and small – to showcase their invaluable contribution to society.

Each week the winners, decided by public vote, will receive £2,000 cash prizes and will be honoured at a star-studded ceremony broadcast on BBC One later in the year.

Readers can visit to nominate a project. All entries must be in by Wednesday 25 March 2015.

John Barrowman

National Lottery Awards Ambassador

The National Lottery Awards