Stornoway Gazette Letters 18/4/13

This photo of two young Heb Celt fans enjoying the Easter sunshine on Luskentyre sands was sent in by readers Murdo and Jenny Morrison.'If you would like to contribute your photos to our Beautiful Islands feature, email: Include your name, where you are from, where the picture was taken and what inspired you to take it, as well as any technical information about the picture
This photo of two young Heb Celt fans enjoying the Easter sunshine on Luskentyre sands was sent in by readers Murdo and Jenny Morrison.'If you would like to contribute your photos to our Beautiful Islands feature, email: Include your name, where you are from, where the picture was taken and what inspired you to take it, as well as any technical information about the picture
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With the enormity of the council’s blunders becoming clear over flights, the “it wasn’t me” protests of council leaders is increasingly embarrassing. Last week it was the public consultations of December which were to blame, before that it was the Health Board’s fault. This week, it was the councillors who presented options to retain the flights which caused it. Each sad excuse worse than the last.

The SNP budget is straight forward. The council spends around £2.5 million more than it gets. Our amendments were, not to cut front-line services but to restructure the council. Executive to detail for implementation within two years, reducing number of departments, reducing number of committees, combining Leader and Convener into one post, the two being an unaffordable luxury. Establish home-working as central to the council, it already being widely effective in an increasing number of organisations and considered well suited to the Western Isles. Sickness absence averages 30% improvement, with absence costs approaching £2million that alone is significant.

These proposals were ruled entirely competent by the Director of Finance and the Chief Executive. Sadly it was described by Councillors as too difficult to understand and insufficient time to understand it.

The SNP group insists transport links must be re-established. I urge the leadership to meet and do that urgently, rather than desperately try to avoid blame. If the will genuinely exists this can still be done.

Councillor Donald Manford, Isle of Barra HS9 5YD


If my understanding of publicly available information, via local papers over the last few years is correct, then the movement of ministers from Church of Scotland to Free Church, represents their choice to emphaside cultural traditional rights rather than international development goals, involving human rights equality, particularly women’s equality.  

International development goals were discussed by the United Nations in New York this March during a two week international discussion, when the 57th Commission on the Status of Women occurred (www.CSW57).

At the table were basic issues about if governments should protect women from male violence. Speakers against safety for women included government representatives from Iran, Syria, Egypt, Russia and the Vatican, who spoke about cultural and sovereignty issues as more valuable than women’s lives.

In Russia for example, 40 women a week are killed by domestic violence, every week, and there are no laws against domestic violence, the same absence of law occurs in many muslim nations. Speakers in favour pointed out that governments already have obligations to protect women from violence and that these should be retained and enhanced. Furthermore, it is generally accepted that enfranchised women with economic and family planning choices, produce long term effects in higher economic prosperity and reduced childbirth rates, and from the available data, women don’t resort to killing men in statistically relevant numbers in order to do so.

An agreed outcome document from CSW57, resulted in increased requirements for governments to institute wide-ranging capability to protect and enfranchise women and girls on a global scale. Local leaders all over the world are re-evaluating their commitments to caring for their communities and how best to do this, when increasing UN money is being aimed at women’s issues.

It seems likely that some effect in changes in criterias relating to grants for economic and social welfare will occur, potentially introducing penalties, reducing impunity for non-compliance on equality obligations or otherwise reducing access unless activities occur, that promote long term sequences of equalising legislation with recognisable and statistically relevant results, contributing to viable community projects and outcomes. In so doing, developing international goals in sustainable communities.

Leaders who work against this for any reason, risk looking more like the end of a branch without fruit on it, than a living church.

Hazel Mansfield, Tong, Isle of Lewis


The public are not going to be fooled by Councillor Angus Campbell’s ‘spin’ in the media last week in regards to Island flights.

What he is saying is that the six councillors who voted to KEEP the Southern Isles air services are the ones who wanted to discontinue them! By this same logic I assume the other 24 councillors who voted to discontinue them in fact wanted to keep them!

Give us all bit of credit, and do not dig this hole any deeper.
Councillors are entitled to vote to scrap these air services (with disastrous consequences in my view), but to then try to blame others will simply not work.

If one really believes what most of the public believe, that these services which have linked our islands for 40 years, should be retained, then there is a simple way to resolve this and that is for the councillors to vote to reverse this decision at the next series of meetings.
P.S. Angus, I would be pleased to put forward the motion to reinstate these services and you can second it, at the next series of Council meetings. 
Councillor Rae Mackenzie, Council offices, Stornoway


I would like to thank everyone in North West Scotland who helped make Marie Curie Cancer Care’s Great Daffodil Appeal a huge success this year. Our Highland collections in our local supermarkets, shopping centres and on our streets have raised over £26,000 with the collection in Stornoway raising £1,020.

From our brilliant volunteer donation collectors who tirelessly encouraged people to donate and wear a daffodil pin, to everyone who gave what they could to support people with a terminal illness – I want to say a big, heartfelt thank-you.

The Great Daffodil Appeal raises funds so that nurses like me can provide free nursing care to people with a terminal illness in their own homes. I see first hand what a difference it can make for patients to spend their final days, weeks or hours with the people and things they love close by, and this is what makes the Great Daffodil Appeal so important.

With the funds raised by this year’s Great Daffodil Appeal, my fellow nurses and I will be able to provide terminally ill patients and their families with more of the hands-on care and emotional support that the charity is known for.

Penny Sutherland, Marie Curie Nurse, Highland


Iain Duncan Smith must be in turmoil as the petition calling for him to live up to his broadcasted boast was ironically buried by the news of a long term ill woman passing away.

He surely must have been frustrated he didn’t manage to completely hide her massive mistake that his entire project was geared to do.

The Disabled Living Allowance along with a host of other benefits were created under Margaret Thatcher for one purpose only, to remove the masses away from Unemployment Benefit figures which were read out every evening on the Six O’clock News like the world’s worst cricket score.

You had one job Iain Duncan Smith.

Roy Isserlis, East Lothian


Still waiting for what we already know - it has been four months since the report on RET for commercial vehicles was originally due to be published.

The leaked version that came out last year confirmed what was already widely known, and importantly for hauliers dispelled the myth that they didn’t pass on savings to islanders.

If we have already seen the conclusions of the study some might wonder why it is so important for the official version to be published. But without access to the report campaigners for RET do not have the body of proof, supporting what they had said all along, to back up their campaign.

It is almost a year since the march through the streets of Stornoway in support of RET for all vehicles. It is important to keep hold of that passion and conviction.

MSP Rhoda Grant has suggested the government didn’t want the report to be published before the 10% fare hike this month – because there would be an “outcry”. For campaigners in the island the momentum of public opinion is by far their strongest weapon.