Alex McSorley from St Boswells took this close up photograph of the powerful sculpture which overlooks the sea at Eyemouth. The sculpture is a memorial to the 189 fishermen who lost their lives in the fishing disaster of October 1881.
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
PRICE TO PAY FOR EXPANSION
The Borders has the unenviable distinction of having the lowest average household income across the UK.
So last week’s article on the proposed expansion of MacLean/Border Eggs and the increase in staff numbers might seem like welcome news.
Your story highlights that with the approval of the latest shed, staff numbers will increase the current 10 by four, to 14, plus some seasonal local employment.
But the article doesn’t say if they are jobs that pay more than the minimum wage. This would be information helpful in making a judgment about the value and cost of these jobs.
Because there are costs – to the environment, residents of nearby Hutton Barns and Hutton, and the loss of prime agricultural land, concreted over to erect the current six sheds, and possibly one more, turning this area into something more like an industrial estate.
There is another potential loss. An application for a sympathetic development of a derelict steading in the village of 12 new homes, which would grow a very small hamlet into a more viable community and is supported by the residents, has been vigorously contested by James and Angela MacLean.
Job creation is important, but not at the expense of the destruction of communities who were there long before the chicken sheds and don’t deserve this.
THE WEALTHIEST SHOULD COUGH UP
For many years I was a youth and community worker, working with less-affluent communities and supporting people living in them to find ways of dealing with issues affecting them.
I have been retired for five years and when I look at the situation of the most vulnerable and powerless in our society today, I feel as if I am living in a totally different universe, let alone political climate.
Their situations have changed so much for the worse as a direct result of Tory government policies that I simply despair for the future of those less well off in the UK today. These policies are specifically targeting the poor, the sick and the disabled to deal with the deficit which has tripled under Tory governments since 2010 and which now stands at an incredible £1.73bn.
Why not recoup this money from the wealthiest in our society – the huge corporations who either avoid tax or negotiate their own tax deals, and who are benefiting from substantial corporation tax cuts; the off-shore companies weasling away their huge profits, free from scrutiny; the wealthy and super rich benefiting from from income tax and inheritance tax cuts.
What kind of a society are we now living in, where the poor are being so exploited and the rich are profiting and increasing their wealth at such an alarming rate?
I was shocked to recently discover that any single person under the age of 35 claiming housing benefit is now only entitled to the equivalent single room rate, which means a room in a shared house. A 34-year-old adult not thought deserving of their own accommodation.
Although the majority of people in receipt of housing benefit are unemployed, there are large numbers in low-paid employment and on zero-hours contracts – a deliberately-constructed form of employment which may be of advantage to some employers, but which only brings instability and stress to workers.
Poverty these days is no longer simply the realm of the unemployed and the workless.
And then there is the horrendous increase in food bank use, thought by certain Tory politicians to be a “lifestyle choice”.
The Trussell Trust estimates that over a million food parcels were given to people in crisis in 2016/17, and this does not include figures for non-Trussell Trust outlets. There were 66 food banks when David Cameron came to power – now there are approaching 450.
Homelessness has doubled since 2010 and there are currently over four million children in the UK living in poverty, many from working families. This figure is set to rise by a further 50% by 2020.
The sick and disabled are, on average, £30 per week worse off as a result of benefit cuts and changes, and more than 50,000 disabled people have had their specially-adapted vehicles taken away by the government as they transfer from Disability Living Allowance to the controversial Personal Independence Payment Plan.
Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that between December 2011 and February 2014, more than 4,000 people died within six weeks of being found fit to work following a work capability assessment.
The list of injustices just goes on and on, and there are far too many to list here.
We all need to ask ourselves what kind of a country do we want to live in and vote with our consciences on June 8 for a fairer and kinder society .
OBSESSION IS A TORY TRAIT
According to a leaflet from Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, the SNP government is “obsessed with independence” – a strange claim given this is an election leaflet which mentions “independence” no less than 22 times, and nothing else.
Perhaps Ruth’s own, real, obsession is to avoid any possibility of having to justify Conservative policies at Westminster which have had such a devastating effect on millions of families, forcing them to rely on food banks, giving succour to UKIP’s vile blame game where immigrants and asylum seekers are concerned, taking transport from the disabled, punishing the poor (including the working poor) for the crimes and inadequacies of the banking sector, and maintaining an economy which, according to the Bank of England, will see most people’s incomes reduced for years to come.
Sadly, the latter prospect, pathetic as it is, according to bank governor Mark Carney, is dependent upon a clear and healthy Brexit.
Given that Prime Minister Theresa May has wasted so much time, clearly has no coherent plan, left the only EU land border and Northern Ireland’s future prospects to be sorted by the Irish government etc., let’s hope someone with real leadership skills is at the helm soon to navigate our way out of the almighty mess caused by this Tory government.
And let’s hope that person has no need to hide behind accusative projections, either of Ruth-style “obsession” or John Lamont’s “life-style choice” nonsense.
I am not, and never have been, a member of the SNP, so my view, having had discussions on many occasions with Calum Kerr (SNP Westminster candidate), is not out of party loyalty, but of objective sense – he is the best candidate for the job.
It is disappointing that John Lamont has not responded to the challenge raised several times in your correspondence columns as to the reason for his decision to stand in the general election only two years after being elected as an MSP.
His most recently-delivered election communication sheds no light on the matter, but highlights the problem. It claims that by electing him to Westminster, the Borders “will continue to have a local champion who will stand up for NHS services, schools and transport links, and pursue better broadband, youth services and high street regeneration”.
Yet he must know that all these are issues devolved to Holyrood over which he, as an MP, has no say and can have no control or influence. Similarly, as an MP he will in future have no authority to speak about education, law and order, justice, agriculture or tourism in the Borders.
What I want to hear from Mr Lamont is where he stands on those specific Westminster policies introduced since 2010 by his Conservative government – decisions to make cuts to social security, mobility allowance, disability payments etc., to introduce public sector wage caps, to renew Trident at the expense of conventional forces, to build the Hinckley Point nuclear power station with an untested and uncosted technology, to expand Heathrow airport, etc.
Theresa May and her Conservative party is seeking to make this a general election based on “strong and stable leadership”, supposedly to strengthen her hand in future Brexit negotiations.
Yet surprisingly, Mr Lamont makes not one single mention of Brexit and its consequences in his entire election pamphlet.
Does he regard this matter as now totally settled because the Conservative government – albeit reluctantly and only as a result of court action – obtained parliamentary agreement to trigger Article 5 and so unworthy of further discussion?
For example, is he such a committed Brexiteer that he really believes that “no deal is better than a bad deal”?
Mr Lamont wants to fight this general election campaign on the single constitutional issue of a second Scottish referendum. This is remarkably strange as Mrs May has made it clear that this will not take place in the near future and – whether we like it or not – Westminster has the final decision on this subject.
This can only be a blatant smokescreen to avoid necessary and potentially-damaging examination of the record of the last seven years of “nasty party” Conservative government and of its total lack of constructive policy as to how to handle Brexit?
FISHING WOULD BE STUFFED AGAIN
I see in your May 4 issue that Calum Kerr has come up with some scheme saying he wants the fishing industry’s voice heard.
He fails to mention that if Scotland becomes independent and Nicola Sturgeon gets her wish to join the EU, Scotland will have to adhere to the Common Fisheries Policy – so the fishing industry is stuffed again.
Maybe he doesn’t understand that after Brexit we won’t have to follow the diktat of the EU. That’s one of the reasons why the majority of people in the UK voted to leave – this number includes the 1,018,322 people in Scotland.
But there again, it’s the run-up to the general election and the nationalists’ position is at risk, and they’re going to come up with all their plans for Scotland.
Why does it take the election for all this to happen?
Also, I see Jim Gibson (letters, May 4) who criticised another letter writer, Peiter van Dijk, has reverted to the tried and tested way of the SNP in attacking anyone who disagrees with them.
Attack politicians by all means – they should have thick skins – but when it comes to other members of the public, you know then they’re losing it.
John Lamont was our constituency MSP for many years and he’s always been out on the road holding surgeries, unlike Calum Kerr and Paul Wheelhouse.
The only time I’ve seen Calum Kerr is when his photo has been in the Berwickshire News trying to look interested when a farmer’s expressing his concerns.
I should also say that John responds to all emails and his team ensure that when he receives any messages he deals with them.
South Cheviot View
I AGREED WITH THERESA!
May I please use your columns to make a confession to an event which has caused me nothing but great embarrassment and guilt.
Being of a certain age, I have witnessed many general elections and the cause of my personal anguish and self-doubt is that on April 25, 2016, I found myself agreeing with a Tory – Theresa May.
On that day Theresa May stated that “remaining inside the European Union does make us more secure, it does make us more prosperous and it does make us more influential beyond our shores”.
I was aghast and ashamed. I, Lorne Anton, agreeing with a Tory. I am undone – what shame.
But wait – Theresa May, of late, effective leader of UKIP, is now, by her own principles and the statement above, leading us into a less secure, less prosperous and less influential future. Both she and Ruth Davidson, another former Tory cheerleader for the EU, can’t have it both ways. Do not words like political hypocrisy, deceit and expediency spring to mind
No wonder they are so reluctant to talk about the politics of the real issues that affect us all.
Theresa May’s statement of April 25 last year is correct and that is why we should be supporting the SNP across Scotland on June 8.
This election is not about Scottish independence, but about Scotland’s future and the damage to our country that a Westminster Tory hard Brexit will bring.
John Lamont, defender of the interests of the Borders and Scotland – be serious.
THINK OF YOUR POORER NEIGBOURS
The well-off have never suffered under any government, so have not had to resort to welfare or food banks. Even when the highest rate of income tax was 98%, and inheritance tax was 85%, no one suffered in the true sense of the word, for these rates were only applied to the very richest people.
It seems counter intuitive that countries with the highest rates of tax today – such as Norway, Sweden and Denmark – also have the happiest populations, as revealed in regular surveys.
Perhaps the people of these countries would rather not pay so much, but they realise that everyone benefits from better infrastructure and social services. So they keep voting for left-wing governments and high taxes at every election.
As you cast your vote on June 8, try not to think only of your own interests, but support a party trying to be fair to everyone, not just the rich and powerful.
Please may I express my sincere gratitude to the many people across Mid Berwickshire who put their trust in me and elected me as one of their councillors.
Despite all of the talk about election fatigue, what was most thrilling was the sheer number of residents who voted in these local elections.
In Mid Berwickshire alone, over 1,000 more residents voted than in the last election, turnout was up by over 12% and Mid Berwickshire recorded one of the highest turnouts in the Borders.
However residents voted, that is a measure of the great interest our residents have in their local area.
Standing for election was daunting, but was made much easier by the welcome and support of many of the people and groups I had the opportunity to meet in recent months.
I hope to meet many more Berwickshire residents and more local groups in the months ahead.
Travelling miles of rutted farm tracks across the near 200 square miles of Mid Berwickshire was a challenge, but never a chore. It allowed me a much better understanding of some of the many challenges our area faces.
My particular thanks go to all of the election staff who spent extremely long days at polling stations, allowing us the opportunity to vote in our local communities.
I’m grateful to the police who ensured the process was safe and to the staff at Scottish Borders Council who ran the count (and the entire process) with charm and ruthless efficiency.
I’m very grateful to the courtesy of all of the other candidates, whether elected or not, who engaged in a process which encouraged so many residents to go out and cast their votes.
I am passionate about the challenges and opportunities for our area, so I relish representing all of the residents of Mid Berwickshire on Scottish Borders Council, regardless of how they voted.
z I would like to thank the people of East Berwickshire for putting their faith in me by voting SNP in the local elections on May 4.
Our campaign was fought on local issues with an ambitious manifesto about investing in education, building more houses, supporting local businesses, increasing free childcare provision and giving more of a voice to local people.
It was one of the great privileges of this campaign to be able to get out and about extensively in the area I am proud to call home. I have had the opportunity to meet many local residents and have listened to your concerns, hopes and ideas.
I have a lot to do and am eager to get started.
I would like to say a huge thank-you to all supporters who have so generously given of their time and energy, and to all who have sent good-luck wishes and congratulation messages. It really means a lot.
z I should like to take the opportunity to thank the people of East Berwickshire for returning me to represent them on Scottish Borders Council.
We are all aware of the financial pressures under which local government is suffering in Scotland at present. The Scottish Government has cut funding to councils by nearly 20% and we have all seen the consequences.
I hope that the new administration of Conservatives, supported by Independents, can make best use of the budget so that we see an improvement in the services on which we all depend.
It is particularly pleasing for me, on being returned to serve, to have a second Conservative councillor in East Berwickshire for the first time.
We welcome Carol Hamilton to the Conservative group of councillors.
COLDSTREAM COFFEE MORNING
We would like to thank everyone who donated to, helped with and attended our recent coffee morning in Coldstream.
This amazing support enabled us to raise £400.
Wendy Acornley and Janet O’Kane
BAVS charity shop
CANDIDATES’ CRASS ATTEMPT
When going to vote in the recent council election, I was horrified to see the two Conservative candidates’ shared board outside the polling station claiming that voters could “send a message that we don’t want a second referendum”.
This misleading message was a crass attempt to provide a cheap last-minute slogan as people entered the polls.
A local council election has no bearing whatsoever on this matter, which distracts from local issues.
It made me wonder how capable this party is of running the country if its local activists can’t tell the difference between a local election and a national one.
Ms S. Reed
CONTRIBUTOR SHOULD APOLOGISE
Robert Scott accuses First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, after the EU referendum, of having described all Brexit voters as racist (letters, April 27).
This is a disgraceful slur. Nicola Sturgeon has never said such a thing.
This is yet another example of fake news of the worst kind, and Mr Scott should apologise unreservedly.