Stornoway Gazette Letters 29.8.13

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Pictured above is this image of surfers at Barvas Beach enjoying the sunset which was sent in by reader Mitch Thompson. To contribute your photos to our Beautiful Islands feature, email: Include your name, address, where the picture was taken and what inspired you to take it, as well as any technical information about the picture.



At Monday night’s meeting the Stornoway Trust Trustees expressed how hugely disappointing it was to read the letters attributed to Mr and Mrs Bagshaw which appeared recently in the local press. This is particularly so in view of Mr Bagshaw’s close association through his Architectural Company with the projects he now chooses to criticise.

Mr Bagshaw’s close involvement spans initially from the consultation stages of the development plan to latterly their involvement in an effort to secure grant aid towards the restoration of the built environment within the Castle Grounds.

The eradication works of the invasive species are widely accepted as being both beneficial and necessary to the grounds at this time.

The Trust has ensured that skilled operators have been engaged to carry out the works under the watchful eye of qualified staff and professional advisers.

For Mr and Mrs Bagshaw to claim that the effort expended on removing the rhododendron ponticum goes unchecked without supervision or regard to the wellbeing of the very species we are trying to sustain is without foundation and completely inaccurate.

As expected there are already encouraging signs of natural regeneration in the affected areas.

This provides the Trust with the hope that much of the areas will be naturally repopulated with desirable species, thereby limiting the task of replanting to more selective and exotic species which were under siege to the invasive rhoddies.

The works in conjunction with the creation of the mountain bike trail has helped to establish lost viewpoints and re-established some of the long lost trails.

In addition new paths have provided safe access to new areas of the park.

Again the quality of work can be attributed to a skilled workforce working under the supervision of staff and consultants trained in path design and path construction hence the high standard of the trails many now enjoy.

Both of these projects represent a significant investment by the Trust in the castle grounds at a time when finance and grant aid is hard to secure

The Trust aspires to build on the progress already achieved looking at selective replanting, continued weed control as well as improving pathway and interpretation within the grounds.

Despite a very beneficial collaboration for Mr Bagshaw with the Trust in the past I fail to see what has brought about his new found cynicism about the castle grounds. 

For our part, as a Trust we look forward with optimism to the future for the castle grounds and the prospect of major projects that will further enhance this great natural asset for the benefit of the people we serve.

Murdo Murray, Chairman Stornoway Trust


Rev. Iain D. tells us that on numerous occasions he has spoken against the fractured state of Scottish Presbyterianism, but maintains that no-one seems to be listening (Viewpoint 15.8.13).

If that’s the case then it’s unfortunate, for Rev. Iain makes a valid point, yet not only is it absurd that so many Presbyterian denominations exist, it’s absurd also that we have so many other denominations as well.

It’s a crazed situation, all of them reading the same Book and taking different things from it, dividing and separating from one-another on account of what they find there.

Rev. Iain mentions the Lord’s Supper, yet in all its variant forms it could fairly be said that this has been the most divisive one of all, yet to what end?

What in fact does it achieve for believers, and what in fact over long centuries has it achieved for the Christian Church save division and separation?

In my view whether churches be Presbyterian or not, there’s a pressing need to ditch a huge amount of things considered important, and which in reality are of no importance at all.

Throw them out and give Jesus room to breathe!

Keith Fernie, Inverness 


As a taxi-driver, can I say how delighted I am that our MP Mr Angus MacNeil had taken on the issue of the problem of the Vodafone mobile network system in Stornoway. I know how bad this can be for those drivers who are parked beside the taxi rank in the town. You can’t even send a tweet from there.

I wonder if he would be kind enough also to think about the people who work as fishermen in Harris.

There seems to be a good chance that the Scottish Government is going to create a number of restricted zones in the seas around the north and west of the Western Isles.

This has already upset many of Mr MacNeil’s friends and neighbours in Barra and is likely to cause trouble for those Uibhisteachs and others that want to fish off the Monach Isles to the west of North Uist. Perhaps he might also stop the fishermen in places like Banff and Buchan from plundering the west coast of all the fish.

Unlike the fishermen of Barra who gained no help from either Mr MacNeil or Dr Allan in this situation, I would be more than happy if the MP gave me and the island’s fishermen what I have rarely received while sitting in my taxi rank in Stornoway.

A clear signal of his support instead of of someone who has failed to turn up at the White House since the last elections to the Council.

What about it, Mr MacNeil?

Cllr. D J MacRae, Shawbost


It appears that there are many who seem to be unaware that the holding of the forthcoming Scottish Referendum next year is a reserved matter for Westminster only.

The Scottish Government had no authority whatsoever to hold a referendum without Westminster’s permission. Recently BBC broadcaster Andrew Neil stated that this could very well be a ‘one-off’ and feels that Westminster will refuse point blank to grant further plans to hold a further referenda at a later date. Scottish resources such as oil and gas are far too important commodities for Westminster Treasury to let go.

To prevent this scenario ever happening the Scottish voting system was skewed by the Lab.Party/ Lib. Dems to such a degree that it was impossible for the SNP to gain an overall majority in Scotland. However,the impossible has come to pass.

The Scottish electorate have spoken and have been rewarded with a chance to escape the clutches of Westminster diktac and gain freedom to govern our own nation.

The Westminster’s motto today is on par as to what it was 300 years ago when the Speaker in Westminster said: “We have catched Scotland and let us clasp her tight”.

Freedom is just as important as life itself . Lets go for it.

Donald J. Morrison, Portknockie, Buckie


Rural life has been seriously undermined in the Western Isles over the last few years with the closure of local schools.

Protests against such closures often took the form of ‘it will rip the heart out of the community’ and ‘young families will choose not to live here’.

These fears are valid ones and local schools are often the centre point of community life.

Now with former school buildings without a use, perhaps the communities can use these centres to enrich the local area once more.

Our story on page three describes the ambitions of the Kinloch Historical Society.

They are hoping to reinvigorate the former primary school at Balallan into a community hub for historical, genealogical and cultural material from the area.

With news that a community group in Pairc are progressing a plan for a sports hall in their area all is not lost for thriving rural communities.

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