Gazette letters 22/11/12

Beautiful Islands:''Callanish' - Caroline Briggs took this lovely photograph while visiting Lewis recently. She took it from the Callanish Stones looking over the loch into the sun.'If you would like to submit an image to our Beautiful Islands feature email:'Tell us your name, where you are from, where the image was taken and what inspired you, as well as any technical information about the photo.'Images should be around 1MB and in jpeg format
Beautiful Islands:''Callanish' - Caroline Briggs took this lovely photograph while visiting Lewis recently. She took it from the Callanish Stones looking over the loch into the sun.'If you would like to submit an image to our Beautiful Islands feature email:'Tell us your name, where you are from, where the image was taken and what inspired you, as well as any technical information about the photo.'Images should be around 1MB and in jpeg format


From a budget of approximately £117million, plus capital each year the council has to cut its costs by approximately £5.7m over the next two years. This will be done in February 2013.

Despite supposedly consulting with the public, Cllr Archie Campbell and his Labour cohort have already identified what is to be hit. Strikingly similar to Westminster Tories, he hits the most vulnerable first.

Not only has he already identified where the axe should fall but in an effort to dodge responsibility there is a so-called consultation to try and herd the public into accepting what has been pre-selected for them.

He claims in his letter that consulting over the other £100 million per year would be irresponsible. This SNP and the public easily sees through this cynical manipulation.

When the public response is known and when the actual settlement is known, the SNP group will assess the council political administration’s proposals.

It will then offer appropriate amendments, as it has every year, just like almost every other council in the country. He should point this out to his Labour leader in Edinburgh. I expect however, that Archie will lead the howls of protest, as he has every year.

Cllr. Donald Manford


Speaking as a Pensioner, I wish to voice my dismay at the planned closure of the excellent new Library at Daliburgh School.

All of us who reside in South Uist, face a round trip of nearly fifty miles to Lionacleit School Library on the neighbouring Isle of Benbecula. As this is rather costly I, and many other avid readers, will not be able to afford this. Could you compromise and have Daliburgh Library open one morning a week on schooldays, when the school is open anyway with light and heating already in use.

Money could be saved by NOT having all these outside lights blazing at night and out of school hours. Also,why do we need two Janitors for fewer pupils? There was only one janitor, for the old Daliburgh School with more pupils.

My concern is this, that if closed, Daliburgh Library will never re-open again and suffer the same fate as did the old Daliburgh School Swimming Pool. We must not and cannot, let this happen again.

Mary Forrester, South Uist HS8 5TB


Having previously voiced our concerns with regard to the Education Department’s proposal to remove the Specialist teacher’s services throughout the Western Isles, we would like to whole heartedly support the comments made in last week’s Gazette by our Parent Council colleagues in the Southern Isles.

We would strongly encourage our local councillors to seriously reconsider this proposal and also carefully review the consultation process used in future by their departmental officers, when compiling the information that is presented to councillors in relation to any proposed cuts.

It has become blatantly obvious that Head Teachers, Teachers, Parents and Parent councils were not adequately consulted before this proposal was presented to the Council. It is only in recent months that parents have really begun to fully understand how this proposal would actually impact on their children’s education.

We would therefore encourage all Parent councils to voice their concerns on behalf of the parents they represent and make sure that their local councillors are fully aware of these concerns and how they as our elected representatives, really do have to reconsider this proposal and reverse their original decision.

As stated in our original letter, we are fully aware of the tough decisions that our councillors have to make in this difficult economic climate, but we would ask that other areas are considered before the education of our children has to be affected.

We in the Western Isles should not mould our policies round the Education Department’s reasoning of “no one else does it.” (In fact, other areas DO still have specialists in primary schools.) Why can we not lead the way when it comes to quality education provision? Why can we not strive to achieve the “excellence” factor which forms such a key part of the much promoted “Curriculum for Excellence” initiative? Why can we not be an example to other authorities and show a pride in the education issues affecting our children?

There are Budget consultation meetings taking place at present; the Stornoway one takes place on Thursday 22nd November in the Council Chambers. This is your opportunity to voice your opinion, ask questions, challenge decisions and maybe very importantly, offer alternative suggestions for Budget cuts.

It is important that the general public attend these meetings, otherwise the wrong message could be sent out and the impression given that you are happy for the Authority to make all the cuts that they have highlighted in their budget consultation document.

We encourage you to try your very best to attend. If you require further information on the proposed cuts beforehand you can try one of the following links hhtp:// or comment by email to

Parent Council Chairs

Sgoil an Rudha, Laxdale, Stornoway Primary Schools.


It was good to read Keith Rushworth’s letter in last week’s Gazette exposing the groundless arguments of intolerant atheists such as Richard Dawkins.

Dawkins is placing his whole view of the world and morality on precisely the same footing as did Robespierre, Stalin and Mao, namely, the supposed autonomy and powers of human reasoning.

Is it any wonder we have millions of abortions, the threat of euthanasia and multitudes of social evils threatening our civilisation under the growing tyranny of secular humanism?

Your readers will have noticed that Dawkins was unable to make the claim he would so dearly love to but never can – since it is entirely false and thus incapable of proof – that there is no God. He merely thinks it very unlikely.

He has no more rational grounds for that statement than a blind man has to deny the existence of a rainbow simply because he has never seen one.

Were poor, pitiable Richard Dawkins and his followers only to taste of the wonderful love of Jesus Christ shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit their ignorant, irrational atheism would disappear like snow off a dyke.

Allan W MacColl, Swainbost HS2 0TA


Debate and argument will continue in these pages and elsewhere about the respective views of Prof. Richard Dawkins and Francis Spufford on the big God question.

At the recent Faclan presentations by these respected gentlemen it was interesting to compare the warm and polite applause for Spufford with the extended rapturous ovation which greeted Dawkins.

There was no doubt which side of the controversy had the greater support, and by quite a margin. Not what many in the Outer Hebrides may have expected.

Anthony J Henk, Coll HS2 0JR


The letters in your November 8th edition from R McCafferty and Martin Dand in support of the standard Darwinian paradigm deserve a reply. Both are very keen to champion the ‘truth’ of current evolutionary theory.

It may surprise them that, along with many scientists who believe there is evidence for Intelligent Design in nature, I believe the earth is about 4.5 billion years old, that evolution on a micro scale with natural selection does occur and that even common descent from one form to another is possible. However once we get these issues out of the way, what evidence is there that the appearance of life and humans is the result of random processes with no input from an intelligence?

Change from one species to another does occur. However all the observed cases are what is known as micro-evolution, including the mosquito referred to by Martin Dand. This involves the re-assortment of existing genetic material from the gene pool of the particular species. This is not due to mutations. If any mutations are involved then they do not result in new protein structures. All mutations that have been observed are mere tinkering with existing proteins.

This includes the much paraded antibiotic resistance in bacteria. There have never been any new functional structures observed as a result of mutations. For a protein to acquire a brand new function would require at least seven simultaneous mutations. The mathematics of probability shows that the earth is not old enough for such an event to happen. As someone who reads the journal ‘Nature’ every week, I can assure them that there has been no evidence of any new protein being formed by mutations.

By new protein I mean a new three dimensional structure with a new function of benefit to an organism; not tinkering with the surface.

Fossils are a wonderful window into the history of life.

There is undoubtedly a progression over time leading to humanity. While gaps are sometimes filled, there is not a smooth transitional picture.

Perhaps the most glaring counter to this smooth, step by step, scenario is the ‘Cambrian Explosion, around 530 million years ago when virtually every modern animal body plan (phylum), including our own chordates, appeared dramatically and suddenly. This includes the fantastically complex trilobites with their beautiful compound eyes.

As for humans, we are led to believe that in 3 million years we have evolved as a result of random genetic mistakes from Australopithecus Africanus. There may be some form of descent from such a species but it certainly could have not been due to random mutations plus selection. We have a brain tripled in size with brand new circuitry (particularly in speech areas). The time for such change through mutations is too short, the generation intervals too long and number of actual individuals far too few for any such thing to be even remotely possible. I would ask every biologist who reads this to try working out how this could occur in such a short time.

Concerning the second law of thermodynamics: of course the sun pours energy on the open system of the earth. This is energy, not information. The first cells required the molecular machinery to harness such energy. The simplest bacterium is packed with stunning molecular machines, all of which require the meaningful information encoded in DNA. Information that confers meaning is just like a computer program and requires a programmer.

Current evolutionary theory, like most scientific paradigms that eventually succumb, is under far more strain than its advocates admit or even realise. The alternative, an intelligent input from a Creator, seems too much for the establishment to contemplate.

But succumb it will and it is high time that the biological establishment steps back and returns to the sort of humility before creation that great scientists like Newton had. It was in searching out the ways in which God put together our universe and life that kick started the very scientific revolution that now often tries to exclude Him.

Dr Antony Latham, Leac a Li, Isle of Harris


Two very different projects at either end of the Island chain are seeing communities pulling together in order to achieve benefits for their immediate area.

In our front page stories this week the residents of South Uist are taking forward a plan to build a swimming pool and training centre beside Daliburgh School in the hope that this will add to the appeal of the area by attracting and retaining young people, as well as providing much longed for amenities.

In Ness the community wants to provide local care facilities for their elderly population, as currently many face a 50 round mile trip to access day care.

Both the projects are at an early stage and with precious funding all too scarce they will face a battle to become reality, however with doom and gloom about cuts to local amenities grabbing the headlines, it is heartening to see that communities are prepared to roll up their sleeves and get to work themselves to secure the facilities that they need.