Your picture of the Week

Peter Scott from Reston sent us this photo of Burnmouth Harbour noting not as busy as it used to be. Please email your photographic contributions, with a brief caption, to berwickshirenews@jpress.co.uk
Peter Scott from Reston sent us this photo of Burnmouth Harbour noting not as busy as it used to be. Please email your photographic contributions, with a brief caption, to berwickshirenews@jpress.co.uk

Peter Scott from Reston sent us this photo of Burnmouth Harbour noting “not as busy as it used to be”.

Please email your photographic contributions, with a brief caption, to berwickshirenews@jpress.co.uk

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

PULL ON SCOTLAND’S PURSE STRINGS

Last week, Rachael Hamilton MSP was banging on the big GERS (Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland) drum, playing the same tired tune that Scotland is an economic basket case needing to be shored up by the UK.

Why does she bother? GERS is widely acknowledged to be a piece of guesswork, drawn up not from data collected north of the border, but extrapolated via figures from the UK as a whole.

And just to remind Rachael, limited and distorted as this picture is, it is a distorted picture of a Scotland whose decision-making processes are seriously limited by Westminster, not an independent Scotland.

Scotland’s “deficit”, for example, said to be 8.3%, includes contributions taken directly by Westminster for our share of expenditure on things that a Scottish Government might not have chosen – such as Trident, illegal or ill-judged wars, HS2 (which will never reach Scotland) and London’s CrossRail.

Perhaps the UK Government might rein in its excesses if it didn’t have Scotland’s contribution.

Scotland’s income, down this year, could be very different once independent. Replace Westminster’s relaxed attitude to tax avoidance and tax havens with meticulous regulation; replace its heavy bias in favour of wealth and big business with a progressive remit to reduce the ever-widening inequalities; re-institute local tax offices to ensure rigorous scrutiny of tax affairs, then see the economy grow.

Independent Scotland’s expenditure might be very different too.

While Westminster has given vast tax breaks to oil and gas companies, it has cut subsidies to renewables to the extent that a 95% slash in investment is projected by 2020. Scotland might well prefer to support firms pursuing clean energy, generating quality jobs in new technology, where Scotland currently leads the way.

As it is, Westminster’s reckless, big business-driven policies will inevitably lead to carbon emissions targets being missed by a long way – and the consequences of man-made climate changes are now surely impossible to ignore. And customers won’t benefit from lower prices when energy from renewables is expected round about 2025 to be cheaper than energy from fossil fuels.

(An oil-related aside – Unionists weep crocodile tears about Scotland’s falling oil revenues. Note, though, that Norway, a comparable oil-producing nation, saw its revenues fall about 40% when ours fell by 99%, and generated £17.684bn, while the UK Government managed only £43m in its last published tax year.)

It’s surprising to read in this context that David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, said: “It is vital we grow the economy and we want to work with the Scottish Government to achieve that”, while doing his best to scupper it with the Tory combination of subsidies to rich oil companies and austerity cuts to the poorest.

To protect its citizens against the full effect of “welfare reforms”, the Scottish Government has spent £400m, “reforms” it would not have voted for, “reforms” imposed by Westminster.

Better together? Do the research, Rachael. It’s about more than GERS.

This Tory Government does not govern for the benefit of all of its citizens. It’s given us a massive growth in food banks since 2010; the scandal of ever-rising homelessness; the shame of shoddy Grenfell Tower; zero-hours contracts; a dangerously-underfunded public sector, schools, NHS, police, etc.

It’s a government which is remote, uncaring and removed from scrutiny.

We need a government we can trust and hold to account if it lets us down, can “pebble wi’ stanes”, in Holyrood, not Westminster.

Kate Duncan

Paxton

A NATION FISCALLY BANKRUPT

Scotland only represents 8% of the UK population.

Of this total, only 60% max are of voting age.

Every person in Scotland costs £1,750 per annum more than England and is payable by Westminster. Scotland’s current debt GDP is nearing £14bn.

Where is all the money for Scotland’s independence coming from? Fiscally, Scotland is bankrupt and in need of tender care. This will not come from the proven incompetent First Minister and Scottish Government.

Looking at the much bigger picture, the UK has always worked better together, particularly in banking and business. To break up the existing system just to appease a minority of irrational Scottish nationalists is not the answer – we must work together as usual to increase the strength of our Royal United Kingdom.

Only this way can we compete in a much fiercer and competetive world. Brexit must be in place as soon as possible and be as successful as the stock market is now showing.

If a second Scottish independence referendum was called tomorrow, voters across the UK would go against an independent Scotland. It is not just people north of the border who would need to answer the referendum as the result affects us all.

Scottish independence will never happen. Why? The Scottish exchequer will never prove to have the finance.

It all comes down to fiscal ability in the end. It’s what makes the world go round – not republican nationalists with childish dreams.

Paul Singleton

Gordon

CURRENT AFFAIRS

A problem with having letters published is that serious writers face replies from others who distort what they said in the first place.

David Laing’s letter (Berwickshire News, August 31) against me about electric cars is a good example of this perfidious practice.

What are the facts? If all cars were to be all-electric, as Environment Secretary Michael Gove has decreed, we will need 50% more electricity than we now consume at peak demand.

The National Grid currently has a narrow margin between supply and demand. So how is this enormous demand for electricity going to be met and at what cost?

We have closed down coal-fired power stations and rely on gas-fired ones for half our electricity.

But gas is a fossil fuel which the green zealots also want to scrap. Furthermore, the Climate Change Act states that electricity is to replace gas for central heating and cooking – placing an additional burden on our generating capacity. Wind farms are useless when the wind is too light or too strong. Solar is compromised during the long winter months.

The National Grid warns that if you have an electric car plugged in at home to a fast charger you must not boil a kettle as it will trip your supply. Using a normal slow charge will take up to 19 hours.

No wonder Mr Gove’s plans have a loophole, possibly allowing hybrid cars to continue to be manufactured after 2040 (hybrids with diesel and petrol engines, as well as an electric motor).

But what if you don’t have a driveway and want to plug in? Do we have 10 or 20 cables running across the pavement into house-charging points? If all cars were to be all-electric we would need 400,000 public charging points at a cost of £30bn. Already electric and hybrid cars attract a government subsidy of up to £5,000 per vehicle. Is the magic money tree to be shaken yet again?

Mr Laing confuses small 12-volt starter batteries in conventional cars with the large 300 or 400-volt ones in all-electric vehicles driving the electric motor. These weigh upward of 250kg.

Is it not sensible that research into their health effects should be carried out through bioelectromagnetics, which is the scientific study of electromagnetic fields on cells, tissues and biological systems?

Nissan USA has issued a 40-page First Responders’ Guide to the Nissan Leaf for action following a road traffic collision. It is prefaced by an explanation of the danger symbol throughout the guide.

First responders are required to wear special boots, gloves and facial protection as they tackle the high-voltage (360 volts) shutdown, after which 10 minutes have to elapse before the capacitor can be considered safe.

I quote: “Failure to properly shut down the high-voltage system before the emergency response procedures are performed will result in serious injury or death from electrical shock.”

This isn’t scaremongering, this is fact. No wonder renowned environment journalist Christopher Booker has said: “It is hard to know which is the maddest of the ‘green’ schemes the government has embarked on in its drive to eliminate fossil fuels. But its mania for electric cars is surely racing to the top of the list.”

William Loneskie

Oxton

POWERFUL ARGUMENT

First of all, I would like to apologise to Christopher Green for suggesting he was a SNP supporter when he now confirms he is not (letters, August 31).

For me to associate him with the failures of Police Scotland, the NHS, education and much more is unforgivable.

However, my main question remains unanswered.

Where will the electricity come from for electric cars, electric trains and cooking and heating when gas, which supplies 37 to 43% of our electricity in the UK, is banned?

The SNP-dominated Scottish Government has shut coal power plants and is determined to shut down nuclear, thus relying on unreliable wind and hoping the sun will shine.

The UK Government is equally stupid with its grandiose plans to decarbonise when the rest of the world continues to burn fossil fuels to grow economies.

America and China are ignoring the Paris Accord and they, together, are responsible for 44% of global emissions. The UK’s 1.3% and Scotland’s 0.13% are insignificant.

Pursuit of insane climate change legislation at Holyrood and Westminster will lead to power failures and lasting damage to the economy.

Clark Cross

Linlithgow

CONSULTATION ON SCHEME’S FUTURE

Transport minister Humza Yousaf has launched a consultation on the future of the national concessionary travel scheme.

The Scottish Government wants to hear views on the options to safeguard the longer-term sustainability of the existing free bus travel scheme, and on providing free bus travel to young modern apprentices to support their travel costs.

The plans to provide young modern apprentices with free bus travel will initially be tested in a pilot scheme in 2018, to ensure the success of a full roll-out.

Mr Yousaf has confirmed that everyone who already has a bus pass before any changes come into force will continue to have access to the benefits of the scheme.

The consultation will be available via the Transport Scotland website until November 17.

Matthew Millar

Transport Scotland

PLEA TO FILL IN LANGUAGE GAP

Is it not time for the Berwickshire News to introduce a new competition?

Any suggestions from locals as to what the collective noun for the current collection of Border potholes should be?

C. John

Birch House

Melrose

BOOSTING THE RNLI CASH FLOAT

On behalf of the Eyemouth RNLI Lifeboat crew, I would like to thank all those who helped make our recent coffee morning and open day such a great success.

The fantastic total of £1,461.73 was raised for the RNLI.

Andrew Jamieson

(coxswain, Eyemouth Lifeboat)

COLDSTREAM SUMMER TEAS

As organisers of Coldstream Parish Church’s summer teas, we would like to thank all the conveners and their teams for working so hard to produce the beautiful food we have all enjoyed.

Thanks go to Pauline and Yvonne for running the raffle so efficiently; Mary and her team for managing the bric-a-brac stall and everyone who has contributed goods to the stall or donated raffle prizes.

Last but not least, we would like to thank everyone who came along and made the teas such a success. Thanks to you we have raised the magnificent sum of £2,375.70 for church funds. We look forward to seeing you all again in 2018.

Irene Letham and Anne Coltherd