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independence

Massive political changes

It troubles me greatly that too many people in Scotland do not appreciate the massive political changes which have taken place in Westminster.

After the Second World War the Houses of Parliament were peopled by giants such as Clement Attlee, Ernest Bevin, Hugh Gaitskell, Aneurin Bevan and Tom Johnston. All were close to the ordinary people they represented. They were politicians who worked for people not profits, and it was during this period that the great institutions of the NHS and the welfare state were built. They were created to serve the whole British population and were the beginnings of a truly civilised society in Britain.

Margaret Thatcher changed all that. She believed that the market could solve all problems and that everything should be privatised. Thus began the barren age of greed and selfishness which continues today.

Sadly no Westminster party has had the courage to reverse any part of this inhumane trend and indeed there is no appetite to do so. Too many politicians of all stripes do not care how many people are driven into extreme poverty, to food banks or in despair to suicide, because they are very wealthy or millionaires. If they need health care or a lawyer or children’s education; without hesitation they reach for the cheque book.

They do not and never have experienced the daily struggle many of their constituents have to endure. The more money they can remove from the NHS or from benefits to the needy, the greater the tax cuts they can give their wealthy friends to bank offshore.

For these reasons we should fear for the future of the NHS. All Unionist parties claim it is safe in their hands and that it will remain free at the point of need.

Many parts of the NHS have already been privatised, but what the politicians don’t tell us is that this leads to taxpayers having to pay for the company’s profits and shareholders’ dividends. And when the whole of the NHS has been put into private hands, how long do you think it will be before your doctor asks first to see your wallet before your condition, just as in the USA? If you doubt this look at the railways which now receive four times as much taxpayers’ money as they did before privatisation. The only profitable line benefiting taxpayers is the East Coast and guess what – it’s publicly owned!

So why does all this matter to us in Scotland? We have our own parliament in Edinburgh which controls the NHS in Scotland and other aspects of daily life. Aye, but after a NO vote next year, what then? Picture the nightmare scenario of a London controlled party being voted in to Holyrood – do you honestly believe they would not abolish your free health care and free prescriptions, free university fees, free care for the infirm and free bus travel for the elderly?

Think about it ­­- before it’s too late.

Richard Walthew,

Whitsome Crofts, Duns.

weekly column

Grateful for opportunity

‘Thought for the Week’ has been a regular column in the ‘Berwickshire’ since, January 14, 1988 - that’s 26 years ago.

I’ve overshot the significant quarter century marker by one year! 1988 was designated by the Scottish churches as the ‘Year of the Bible’ and this was one of the ways in which we celebrated it. So we are thankful to the Tweeddale press for allowing this column to continue week-by-week up to the present day.

Two years later the Borders churches were invited by the newly created Radio Borders, based at Melrose, to form a Religious Advisory Council to produce Christian programmes. I had the privilege of chairing the Year of the Bible Committee in 1988 and submitting the first ‘Thought for the Week’ and then the further privilege of chairing the Radio Borders Religious Advisory Council as we launched the daily ‘Time for Thought’, ‘Life-link’ a monthly panel discussion and phone-in and the Sunday church news, music and chat programme.

The cumbersome RBRAC title was, more recently, replaced by CrossBorders and the team has faithfully maintained the daily ‘Time for Thought’ inputs and the Sunday morning programmes until the end of last year.

Change of policy at Radio Borders has meant an end to Christian broadcasting for the time being. So the team express their thanks to Radio Borders for 24 years of opportunity and sadness at its removal.

Communicating the relevance of Christian faith through the media is still vital in a country where our way of life and major institutions have found their roots in that faith in earlier centuries. Secularism has since diminished the strength of the faith in our society, so there is a clear need for a return to the firm foundation in life that the faith can provide.

The churches are grateful to the Tweeddale Press for affording us the opportunity to point the way, week by week for 26 years and to Radio Borders for the opportunities we have enjoyed over the past 24 years.

Bob Higham.

politics

Living in a free society

I am sorry that your newspapers continue to be vehicles for my political demonisation because I have expressed views which fall outside left-wing parameters.

Mr and Mrs Hugo Sanders recent letters attacking me for not falling into line in the media-led orgy of one of The Left’s stars, Nelson Mandela, is frankly incredible. Having sat for over seven years on two influential Foreign Affairs Committees in London as well as being vice-president of the UK’s leading anti-Communist Institute and having read two inch thick files on the card-carrying communist terrorist Mandela and his gangs, I think it is just possible that I am better informed than them. But unlike my political opponents, I accept that they have differing opinions without attempting to cause them discomfort. It is called living in a free society and common decency.

Could I please suggest that they read the excellent article in “The Spectator” on December 10, 2013, as well as these assessments of Nelson Mandela. It’s not just me:

On Mandela’s lifetime membership of the Communist party, here: http://gulagbound.com/43074/south-african-communists-finally-admit-nelson-mandelas-party-leadership-role/

The UK’s political commentator Robert Henderson in “Living in a madhouse”, here:

http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/mandela-the-long-walk-to-a-myth/

“The National Review” here:

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/366317/remembering-mandela-without-rose-colored-glasses-andrew-c-mccarthy

“The New American” here:

http://www.thenewamerican.com/world-news/africa/item/15888-saint-mandela-not-so-fast

Even the well-known Rod Liddle protests here, and he is hardly right-wing:

http://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/dec/06/rod-liddle-bbc-nelson-mandela-spectator

Gregory Lauder-Frost,

Mordington.

raffle

Thanks for support

On behalf of Coldsteam Football Club can I thank the public of Coldstream and shopkeepers and businesses for their generous support of our Christmas Raffle which helped raise nearly £800 for club funds.

This money will be invested in maintaining the football club facilities so that both adult and junior football can be enjoyed through good facilities.

Steve Wright,

Chairman, Coldstream FC.

Cubs and guides

Card delivery service

Duns Cubs and Guides would like to thank the people of Duns who sent their local Christmas cards with our “delivery service”.

We are very grateful to everyone who supported us, especially the three shops where the cards were posted. The Guides worked hard stamping and sorting the cards which the Cubs then delivered.

The monies raised will go towards the annual Subscription fees which the units have to pay for every member. These support Scouting and Guiding not only at a local level in Berwickshire, but throughout Scotland, the United Kingdom and the World.

Neil Redpath and Eileen McLean,

Cub and Guide Leaders.

d-day landings

Trip to mark anniversary

Between Monday, June 2, and Saturday, June 7, I will be leading a group from Scotland to attend events in Normandy to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landlings and Normandy campaign in 1944.

There will be an opportunity to pay respects to a relative at the Commonwealth War Grave Cemeteries and Memorials as well as attending special ceremonies in Caen, Bayeux and the landing beaches.

We will also visit significant areas associated with the Normandy campaign.

En route we will visit Bletchley Park where the Enigma machine played such an importanbt role in cracking enemy codes during the Normandy campaign.

We still have a few places left and I will be happy to supply details to any of your readers if they contact me at Beach Cote, Golf House Road, Dunbar, East Lothian EH42 1LS - telephone 01368 866826 or mobile 07710 270640.

David Raw,

Dunbar.

nhs borders

Cuts in Duns doctor service

We had hopes that Health Secretary Alex Neil meant what he said when, in October, he promised a ‘genuinely seven-days service’, but three short months later we have NHS Borders cutting the doctor service at Duns.

Now anyone taking ill at night will almost certainly have to travel to the BGH to see a doctor. And seeing a doctor is what patients want, not being given the runaround by NHS24.

Do those sitting comfortably in offices next to BGH appreciate just how frightening (and dangerous) it is to drive there on a winter’s night? And do they not understand that frail and ill elderly people are the ones most likely to have to tackle such a journey?

It is sad that so few doctors nowadays are prepared to help their neighbours in distress. What is worse is that the NHS has not found a way of providing that help 24/7.

Well-managed organisations do not rely on volunteers, but contract professionals to work round the clock if that is what is needed. Why does NHS Borders not do the same?

Bryan Webster,

Fair Havens, Houndlaw Park, Eyemouth.

garden waste

Victim of savings need

The discontinuation of the garden waste collection service was not imposed by the Scottish Government and not a decision taken lightly.

Full consideration was given to other options, including introducing chargeable collection services. The rationale behind the decision is that in the current financial climate it is necessary to consider and review all mandatory and non-mandatory services provided by Scottish Borders Council in order to identify saving opportunities.

The council needs to provide a waste service that is fit for purpose, and financially and environmentally sustainable in the longer term.

It is just not affordable to continue to deliver the same level of services going forward and introduce new services. It has been necessary therefore to prioritise services being delivered and mandatory services obviously take a higher priority over non-mandatory services. Removal of the garden waste collection service – a non-mandatory service – will save approximately £450,000 a year and create a more equal waste collection service across the Borders, as rural areas have never received a kerbside garden waste collection service.

The garden waste service removal savings have been calculated as coming from collection cost savings rather than disposal cost savings, as we will be able to reduce the size of our collection fleet and reduce running costs. This will assist in achieving the £800,000 savings required by waste services by 2017/18 and contribute significantly to the £28million savings target the council has over this period.

Through the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012, the Scottish Government has made it mandatory for local authorities to introduce food waste collections to households in urban areas by January 2016. In the Borders these collections will be introduced to Hawick, Jedburgh, Selkirk, Peebles and Galashiels, including Tweedbank, and work is ongoing to plan the roll out of this new service over spring/summer 2015.

The council encourages householders to compost at home or to take the material to the nearest community recycling centre. Compost bins may be made available to householders free of charge.

The council’s composting partner, Ask Organic, is able to provide information on home composting, from the basics of how to get started to dealing with trickier types of plants and weeds.

The council has agreed to draw up plans for the development of a community recycling centre (CRC) in Kelso where householders will be able to take garden waste in addition to a range of other materials. This will increase the number of households in the Borders within a 10-mile radius of a CRC from approximately 85 to 95 per cent.

Councillor Davie Paterson,

(executive member for environmental services).

eyemouth

Working together

I would like to thank the group of volunteers who gave up their time to work together on Saturday, January 4, taking down Eyemouth’s beautiful Christmas lights and storing them away safely ready for next Christmas.

These lights exist thanks to the warm hearted generosity of our townsfolk who gave their coppers, and much more, in 2012. They made the dream of new lights to raise our spirits and light up our town at Christmastime, come true.

Can I also thank Andrew Valentine and Martin Butler (Butts) who did such a brilliant job busking on the town’s Late Night Shopping event on November 28, and raised £71.20 for the Christmas Lights fund which will go towards funding even more lights next year.

Barbara Prater,

Treasurer, Eyemouth Christmas Lights Committee.