Gazette Letters 27.03.14

Picture of the Week: John Murdo Murray, aged 12, sent in this wonderful image of a surprise visitor in his garden at Benside
Picture of the Week: John Murdo Murray, aged 12, sent in this wonderful image of a surprise visitor in his garden at Benside

Fuel Competition

Last week, the Office of Fair Trading announced that we had received proposals from the main supplier of road fuels to the Western Isles.

We are now consulting on whether to accept these commitments and wanted to outline the reasons why we think they could greatly benefit island businesses and consumers alike.

As you may be aware, last year we opened an investigation into whether Certas (formerly GB Oils) had abused a dominant position in the supply of petrol and diesel in the Western Isles. In particular, Certas had signed contracts with a number of filling stations on the islands which required them to buy fuel exclusively from Certas for a period of five years .

We were concerned that these actions may have been restricting competition by limiting the entry or expansion of rival road fuels wholesalers. And we know from the many letters and phone calls we received, that this situation was of general concern for islanders and beyond.

Our investigation into the issue has led us to delve deeply into the current arrangements for fuel supply on the Western Isles. This sort of scrutiny - although uncomfortable - does often lead to suppliers considering afresh their business practices. In this instance Certas has now proposed to end these long-term exclusive contracts.

The company has also gone a step further and agreed to open up access to its marine terminal at Loch Carnan to rival wholesalers for a period of five years. Certas will also extend access to its terminal in Stornoway, currently available to other wholesalers until 2015, by a further two and a half years.

Of course, we recognise that these proposals don’t directly affect the price of fuel, which we know is one of the most important issues for residents and businesses on the islands. Such a direct intervention is beyond our statutory powers. However, we believe that these measures will fuel competition in the market by allowing the entry and growth of rivals to Certas.

This looks like a real step forward in providing an opportunity for island fuel costs to become more competitive over time.

If the proposals go ahead, we will put in place very clear controls to ensure that Certas sticks to its promises. Certas, and its parent company DCC Plc, will be required to report to the OFT’s successor, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), every year to show that they are fully complying with their commitments. The CMA will also wish to hear from businesses and individuals if they believe the commitments are not being adhered to.

We are keen to listen to the thoughts of everyone affected before deciding whether to accept Certas’ proposed commitments, which can be found on our website at The consultation will be open until 17 April 2014, and you can email us at, or write to Western Isles Fuel Commitments Consultation, OFT, Fleetbank House, 2-6 Salisbury Square, London, EC4Y 8JX.

We will also be holding an open consultation session in the Western Isles on 8th April at 6pm at the Council Chamber at the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

We look forward to hearing from you.

James MacBeth,

Project Director,

Office of Fair Trading

Better Together?

As we reflect on the continuing negativity of the Better Together campaign, it would seem appropriate to look more closely at the lack of credentials and the anti-Scottish political history of the political bedfellows who make up this treacherous alliance to conspire against Scotland having a more democratic say in their own affairs.

The ‘30 year rule’ allows release to the public of most of the government documents after a period of 30 years. Recent documentation from Tory Government papers from that era has revealed that advisors to Margaret Thatcher tried to broker a secret deal (scuppered because of the political fallout) which would have removed almost £1 billion from an annual budget of£6 billion a cut of 16% – without even telling the then Scottish secretary.

We could not trust the Tories then and should not trust them any more now nor certainly any other political Party that goes to bed with them politically.

Another facet of this referendum which my Yes campaign colleagues and myself find both offensive and insulting is the attempt to personalise the issue as if it has anything to do with a Scots v English feeling.

My daughter- in-law, as well as many ex-working colleagues and close friends who reside or were born South of the border have a very special place in my heart and I emphasise unequivocally that my beef is with undemocratic, misguided and dishonest Governments south of the border - certainly not their citizens.

Over 100 nations throughout the world have gained independence in the last 100 years. Not one has asked for the situation to be reversed.

One of the most recent countries to achieve independence in 1993 was Slovakia - with a population of 5.5 million (Scotland’s is 5.3 million ) Slovakia, which has virtually no oil reserves, has the highest Gross Domestic Product in the EEC and is referred to as a ‘tiger economy’ such has been its resurgence as an independent nation.

A final thought for our ‘Better together’ campaigners to chew over. The Telegraph reported last year that the new high speed rail link HS2 will cut 27 minutes off the present journey time from London to Birmingham. We should remind ourselves that the HS2 project is costing £50 billion which seemingly is OK. £50 billion pounds in order to save 27 minutes!

Yet the cost of dualling the A9 from Perth to Inverness estimated at £3 billion and the Scottish Government have to go cap-in-hand to Westminster to seek permission to borrow this amount to complete this project by 2025.

In the last 10 years there have been almost 100 fatalities and over 2000 injuries most of them involving loss of limbs. By 2025 this statistic will probably be repeated.

Better together! - I don’t think so.

John G Mitchell

Ceol na Mara

7 Direcleit, Isle of Harris

Possibilities are endless

Letters about the Education System quite often crop up in the Stornoway Gazette. My particular interest is in the use of mnemonics which I believe should be a compulsory part of the school curriculum.

Ever since the time of Mnemosnos, the brain’s memory capacity has been a subject of investigation. Many individuals and organisations have jumped on the bandwagon claiming that they invented the system.

Dr Bruno Furst first appeared in the News of the World, Harry Lorayne wrote many books and Tony Buzan is a recent convert. You do not have to go to huge expense to learn a system. Harry Lorayne wrote a wonderful but simple book - “How to Build a Superpower Memory.”

He reminds us in every chapter that it ‘pays’ to remember names and facts associated with numbers - a simple system which can be learned in twenty minutes.

I did not know this system in school but I am sure that I could have greatly increased my qualifications with this knowledge.

The slow pupil becomes normal, the normal pupil becomes bright, and the bright pupils becomes brilliant having more time to expand their potential.

Mnemonics have been used by secret societies for centuries as a means of communication. Also, so called mind reading acts use mnemonic technique. The possibilities are endless - maybe that’s why the majority of the cognoscenti are not shouting it from the rooftops.

Calum Wallace

3 North Dell, Ness

Isle of Lewis HS20SW