Gazette Letters 13.6.13

Bernie Bell from Orkney took this picture of the Iron Age House on the west side of Lewis during her recent visit. If you would like to submit any pictures to our Beautiful Islands feature email your images to: Please include your name, where you are from and what inspired you to take the picture, also any technical information about the image.
Bernie Bell from Orkney took this picture of the Iron Age House on the west side of Lewis during her recent visit. If you would like to submit any pictures to our Beautiful Islands feature email your images to: Please include your name, where you are from and what inspired you to take the picture, also any technical information about the image.
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In response to the article in last week’s Gazette I wish to assure constituents that I have not claimed any expenses.

The amount against my name for other expenses is for a filing cabinet and printer which will be a one off cost.

The IT costs are for the iPhone and iPad which were issued to councillors.

I rarely use the iPhone for outgoing calls so as not to incur costs but the phone will incur quarterly rental charges.

I use my personal mobile phone and home telephone which I do not charge to the Comhairle.


Point, Isle of Lewis


Why is it that council costs alway seem to rise and never go down?

Across the country we saw this; Argyll and Butt also had a large rise in expenses.

The explanation by the Western Isles council was pretty poor and their report card in this area should read ‘Could do better’.


ex Stornoway
Dunoon, Argyll and Bute 

If anywhere on Lewis is going to provide the flagship for any form of Gaelic education we’re going to have to be pretty slick about it or else buy goggles and a snorkel to see its pennant fluttering submarine.

MacMhaighstir Alasdair wrote of Aiseirigh na Seann Chànain Albannach: well, it’s been a long time a coming.

People stop speaking languages when they have no use for them: this has happened almost overwhelmingly with Gaelic.

The educational system has been given the unenviable task of maintaining a language abandoned by its native speakers.

If this challenge is to be successfully met the residual, genuinely fluent, school age speakers must be allowed to mature into adults through and with Gaelic as well

as English.

It is of extreme importance that their educational environment is as richly expressive in Gaelic as is possible.

Their fluency in English will not be damaged.

A few years ago, whilst considering the needs of fluent speakers in their Gaelic medium lessons, (Times Educational Supplement Scotland, 19/10/2007) I wrote

‘Gaelic needs something coherent and plausible.

Time is short. As many Gaelic-competent teachers as possible must be given a full year of full- time Gaelic-medium,

university-level education - learning about the literature and history of the language and developing the educational registers that will be necessary in their classrooms.’ This is still one element of the only plausible way forward – a wholly Gaelic speaking 3-18 school.

This article was written after a stint as Gaelic Medium Development Co-ordinator in The Nicolson (2006) where in my report I wrote, ‘Gaelic medium education must create contexts where the language is experienced as the normal means of expression.’

Of all the teachers Gaelic speaking students encounter it is the Guidance teacher who most importantly must speak Gaelic with them.

The Guidance teacher must have easily flowing, native standard Gaelic that in no way inhibits either light gossip or serious conversation.

There will be code switching, this is the norm in bilingual communities, but Gaelic must be the principal language of discourse if the bilingual young are to have

two languages that mature with them.


Isle of Lewis


How many of your readers would like to turn the clock back? Especially if is to when they were in the Royal Navy and serving on the ‘Warship’ Hitler tried to sink

during World War II? H.M.S. Collingwood at Fareham in Hampshire. Would they like to pay a visit back into that massive Shore Training Establishment?

The H.M.S. Collingwood Association is looking for those who either loved or loathed the place to turn the clock back and join us on our next visit.

Association visits of the past have included a parade, a buffet, lunch in the wardroom, visits to the training sections and simulators and more visits are planned.

If any reader would like to meet up with their old shipmates from any time, yes we have members in their Nineties who were at H.M.S. Collingwood at the start in 1940, and who knows, your old shipmate might live just round the corner to you and reading this letter could re-unite you!

Write now to the Membership Secretary Peter Lacey, Heathfield, Lapford, Crediton, Devon. EX17 6PZ or email him

Do you have a story to tell about your time at H.M.S. Collingwood which other members may recognise when printed in the Association Magazine?

Send it to Peter with your application form and he will forward it to the Editor of the Association Magazine.

With new members on the committee, the Association is growing, don’t get left behind.

I look forward to meeting you at the next visit into H.M.S. Collingwood or weekend reunion and reliving those days!

MIKE CROWE. Chairman


I was interested to happen across the article asking for help from the public to help improve information about the condition of coastal archaeological sites. 
Having walked many sections of the the Scottish coastline hoping to find such sites, I will admit that without much idea what I was looking for, I did not find many sites, but I cannot describe how pleasant it is to have the excuse to wander along the coast seeing what can be found. But the whole experience would have been far more rewarding if I had had experts able to tell me what to look for and better still, how to record and report what I found.

Having recently done an course on Field Archaeology at Glasgow University and this highlighted to me that much archaeology can be done without ever needing to dig

into the ground. Much of our history is easily visible from old stone cottages to sites eroding out of cliffs.


East Dunbartonshire


Aaccording to national press reports over the last week Stornoway is a hotbed of illegal drink, drugs and sex. Even this week we are hearing of more reporters up from the mainland hoping to uncover this ‘underworld’.

No doubt they will find something and proclaim it as evidence, but despite the recent tragedy of Liam Aitchison, Stornoway and the Islands as a whole are one of the safest places to live in the UK.

Of course there are drinking problems, but this is not just confined to underage drinkers and it is an endemic problem across Scotland.

Yes there are drugs available here but there is no culture that you see in cities where it is the recreational norm to take drugs as part of your social life at the weekend.

Reports such as these with no factual evidence are damaging to the Islands.

Yes the truth of these issues should be presented, but it should be the truth not something ripe from the imagination of one person.

The Gazette has done many stories about the good work of local organisations to support young people and curb the excesses of alcohol and drugs this far more accurately presents the reality of life in the Islands.