Letters

Despite the weather's efforts spring is definately on the way and lambs are appearing in the fields across Berwickshire like these at Tweedmill Cottages
Despite the weather's efforts spring is definately on the way and lambs are appearing in the fields across Berwickshire like these at Tweedmill Cottages

Greenlaw town hall would have made a great theatre

SIR, - We, Brunskill and Loveday Limited, were saddened to read Janice Gillie’s article - “Greenlaw’s town hall has hardly been used since its restoration” - in the February 28, 2013, edition of The Berwickshire News.

Those who read Andrew Keddie’s article - ‘Variety theatre bid for Greenlaw hall’ - in the February 22, 2007, edition of The Southern Reporter and Simon Duke’s article - “First class theatre plan for Greenlaw Town Hall” - in the March 1, 2007, edition of The Berwickshire News might recall that we tried to buy and, at no expense whatsoever to the taxpayer, convert this splendid, but then derelict, building into a theatre but that we felt that we were constantly being opposed by certain influential and persuasive people within Greenlaw and Edinburgh who appeared to have their own agenda for this building.

The only persons who seemed to wish to be co-operative, other than the person who lent us the keys to enable us to inspect the then derelict property, were Scottish Borders Council’s principal heritage and design officer, Mark Douglas, and Town Hall Trustee Doug Smith whom Simon Duke quoted in his March 1, 2007, Berwickshire News article as saying that the Town Hall would make a great theatre.

As those who visit our website(www.theatrical-scenery.info) know, Brunskill and Loveday’s experience at the ‘top level’ of professional theatre originated over 100 years ago back in 1899; and yet that seemed to count for nothing.

So, would we rekindle our interest in Greenlaw Town Hall? If it were to be in the derelict condition that we saw in 2006/7 and we could convert it into a theatre, the answer might have been ‘yes’. But, given that it has been converted into what it now is, the answer is ‘Sorry, but no’.

BRUNSKILL AND LOVEDAY LTD.

Councillors blindly following the party line

SIR, - As reported in last week’s Berwickshire News the Scottish Government appointed reporter determining the fate of the Aikengall II wind farm application dismissed Scottish Borders Council’s objections as “the development would be located wholly in East Lothian.”

However just a few miles down the road at Neuk Farm near Cockburnspath as Alison MacDonald points out in her excellent letter (also last week’s Berwickshire) a different logic applies.

Far from dismissing the views of people who live more than 40 miles away, Scottish Borders Council actually allows them to make the decision! The three councillors from Jedburgh, Hawick and Selkirkshire are allowed to override the views of the one truly “local” councillor on the Local Review Body, Jim Fullarton who actually represents the ward affected by the application.

A perfectly sound decision following the planning officer’s thoroughly researched guidance is overturned by three councillors who probably don’t even know where Cockburnspath is let alone care about its residents. Being from the other side of the Borders you would think a site visit would be imperative to familiarise themselves with the application, but no – they turned down the chance, no doubt scared the facts might get in the way of them blindly following their party line.

As Mrs MacDonald concludes this is part of a bigger agenda. Despite the facade of local democracy, controversial planning decisions are increasingly being made not in Berwickshire, not even in the Borders, but in the offices of Mr Salmond and Mr Ewing.

It is about time we stopped allowing the politicians to pull the wool over our eyes.

We have a perfectly good planning system to make these decisions but it is being abused and corrupted by politicians slavishly following an ill-thought out party line rather than acting in the interests of the people they are supposed to represent. Scottish Borders Council, especially its legal department, should be ensuring that proper open procedures are adhered to but they seem unwilling or incapable of doing so.

The tragic outcome of this fiasco is that in villages like Cockburnspath the residents will literally have to live in the shadow of these huge wind turbines whose only contribution to the community will be their negative impact on the health, economy and tourist potential of the village. Whilst providing an expensive and at best unreliable source of energy they will ensure a very reliable and generous source of income for Mr Findlay and Wind Direct – all paid for out of your ever-increasing energy bills.

RICHARD DENNINGTON,

Hoprig Road,

Cockburnspath.

Where is resting place of King James IV?

SIR, - The finding of the remains of the English king, Richard III, under a car park in Leicester, is indeed fascinating and has naturally drawn much media attention.

Attention is now being turned to look to discover the final resting place of King Alfred, in Winchester.

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden, when on September 9, 1513, King James IV, after leading an invading army southward into Northumbria, was killed with many of his nobles and common soldiers.

A body, thought to be that of James, was recovered from the battlefield and taken to London for burial. The embalmed body however lay unburied for many years at Sheen Priory in Surrey and was lost after the Reformation. It is alleged that the king’s head was removed by a glazier and eventually buried at the church of St Michael’s Wood Street in London.

The church was demolished in 1897 and a number of the bodies were disinterred from the churchyard and reburied at Brookwood Cemetery in Woking, Surrey.

Given the excitement shown in finding the remains of King Richard III, the last English king to die in battle, and given the timing of the Flodden anniversary, it is time for a renewed interest in looking to discover the resting place of the last Scottish king to die in battle.

ALEX ORR,

Leamington Terrace,

Edinburgh.

Coldstream Civic Week benefits

SIR, - Coldstream Riders Association would once again like to thank the good folk of Coldstream for attending their coffee morning on Saturday, March 2.

We raised £350 for this year’s equestrian events at Civic Week. As always Ann and Wilma provided the usual morning coffee, thank you ladies, and thanks to Jim for the use of the Legion. And no coffee morning would be complete without the attendees, thank you for your continued support.

DAWN CLOUGH,

Treasurer,

Coldstream Riders Association.

Borders firms must be prepared

SIR, - Upcoming payroll changes will cause a headache to unprepared Borders firms.

From April, small businesses in the Borders will have to report pay as you earn (PAYE) information to HMRC in real time.

Employers (or their accountant) will have to: send details to HMRC every time they pay an employee, at the time they pay them; use payroll software to send this information electronically as part of their routine payroll process

Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) polling at the end of 2012 showed that one third of our small employers knew nothing or very little about these changes.

Whilst we have raised concerns with HMRC and the UK government, we also believe that firms should ensure they keep themselves on the right side of the law. With less than a month to go until these changes come into force, we would urge firms to look up the HMRC website or visit http://www.payerti.org Alternatively contact Business Gateway Borders on 01835 825600 for some help.

GRAHAM BELL,

Borders Branch Chairman,

Federation of Small Businesses.

Coldstream’s impressive cancer support

SIR, - Committee members of MacMillan Cancer Support, Coldstream Branch, would like to say a big Thank You to everyone, people in Coldstream and surrounding areas, who have supported our events over the past year.

Our account book has been audited and the total some raised in 2012 was £9,329.00.

Thank you all once again.

JANETTE CAMPBELL,

Coldstream.

Concert of Choirs

SIR,- On Friday, March 1, we held our very first concert in the Tait Hall, Kelso.

Being a new venture we did not know how well it would go but we were so pleased by the turnout we received. We would like to express our thanks to all the choirs who took part and sang so wonderfully, being InChorus, Kelso High School, Langlee Community Choir, The Border Tarts, The Sentimental Gentlemen and The Tagpipes, Mayfield Garden Centre for all the flowers, John Weierter, Peter Small and Malcolm the caretaker, as well as the Tait Hall staff for all their invaluable help, the businesses and community councils for helping to display posters, Hector Innes, Kelso and Reiver Properties, Galashiels for selling tickets and to our wonderful audience for the tremendous support they gave us. Thank you for the cheers.

ONE ACCHORD LADIES BARBERSHOP CHORUS.

BAAGS roadshow proves a great success

SIR, - Please could we say a huge thank you to four very special people who delivered a wonderful insightful presentation at our recent Employment Launch Roadshow which was aimed at all businessess, employers, supporting agencies and workers, individauls on the Autistic Spectrum and all other interested persons.

Rob Nicholson was the perfect compere, Stella Macdonald, Rob Oliver and Russell Eadie all gave very informative, insightful very personal and useful presentations which will, hopefully, encourage more people to offer an autistic person the opportunity to experience working life - paid and/or voluntary.

Thank you to all staff at the Bucclech Arms Hotel, St Boswells, for a delicious and plentiful buffet lunch and comfortable surroundings, and grateful thanks to the 40 plus delegates who attended the event - please remember that you are more than welcome to attend either or both of the next ones, and to encourage all your contacts to come with you.

The next free Employment Roadshow will be held on July 5 in the Marshall Meadows Hotel, Berwick-upon-Tweed, where we will once again be offering all employers, businessmen/women, supporting agencies, individuals with Autism and all other interested and relevant people to come along to this event from both sides of the Borders. A free buffet lunch and networking opportunity follows the short presentations.

Bookings must be made before July 2, either by email; baags@btconnect.com; or telephone: 01896 668961.

Thank you to everyone who supports, advises and continues to encourage BAAGS and the families we support.

DEREK PURVIS,

Chairman,

BAAGS.

Union Bridge a gift to tourism

SIR, - I hope the threat by Scottish Borders Council to close the Union Bridge is a ploy to lever a grant from the Scottish Government, and not a demonstration of their ignorance of the international significance of the bridge.

It is the Borders equivalent of the Forth Rail Bridge. Would anyone consider closing that?

Designed and built by Capt Samuel Brown of Eyemouth in 1820 the Union Suspension Bridge is the forerunner of suspension bridges throughout the world and the oldest still in use.

Border-born Thomas Telford adopted the bridge’s bar-links system for the famous Menai Bridge; John Rennie, another famous Scots engineer, helped design the abutments.

The Union Bridge is a gift to tourism. Not only is it historically important, it allows the tourist to drive from one country into another in a beautiful location. Any region that valued tourism would not hesitate for a moment to preserve such an asset.

BRYAN WEBSTER,

Houndlaw Park,

Eyemouth.