Letters to the editor

booze ban

Prohibition on enjoyment

Last summer Scottish Borders Council announced plans to introduce by-laws prohibiting the consumption of alcohol in designated public places.

The council has issued a consultation document, which is available on its website and at contact centres. The deadline for responses is January 17.

The “engagement booklet and questionnaire” is not very informative and makes an incredible claim that the by-laws would “allow the council and its partners to meet the top priority of the Borders public, as identified in the 2008, 2009 and 2010 Scottish Borders Household Surveys, making the Borders a safer place in which to live, work and visit”.

On SBC’s website is a report by the chief executive, dated May 30, 2013, on the proposals. It states “drinking in public may be quite acceptable and cause neither problem nor nuisance, depending on the circumstances” (Section 4.4) and “there is no definitive evidence that the consumption of alcohol in public in the Scottish Borders is a problem (5.1)”.

Statistics in the report show there is a significant issue with alcohol-related antisocial behaviour and attendance at hospital between midnight and 6am, but there is no evidence that this is due to drinking in public places, as opposed to in premises licensed by the council.

In the “Extract from 2010 Scottish Borders Household Survey” (Appendix 5), residents identified neighbourhood problems as “dangerous driving or speeding (46 per cent), parking problems (36 per cent), rubbish and litter lying around (30 per cent), people being drunk or rowdy in public places (22 per cent), people using or dealing drugs (22 per cent)”.

I would expect the authorities to address the three biggest problems before attending to minor issues, but sadly not. Police Scotland is removing traffic wardens from our streets and the council is scrapping the environmental warden service.

The statistics suggest that in most of the Borders “people being drunk or rowdy in public places” are “not at all common”, apart from Teviot area where such people are “not very common”.

It’s clear that the council has barely a shred of evidence that drinking in public is a problem. The ban will stifle the development of a cafe culture in towns and prohibit people enjoying alcohol at local picnic sites, while doing almost nothing to reduce drunkenness or rowdyism outside nightclubs.

The police already have ample powers to deal with even the least offensive behaviour. We should not accept this blanket ban on our freedoms on the off-chance that someone might commit an offence.

Alastair Lings,

Tweed Road, Galashiels.

railway man

Audience was gripped

I was thrilled along with my neighbour to be given a ticket from Patti Lomax’s son, for the Premier evening of The Railwayman.

After a fitting introduction from Hugo Hughes, the audience were gripped by what turned out to be a life changing film.

The horrific experiences suffered by Eric Lomax and his fellow servicemen were truly evil. However to watch the strength of this individual to turn his experiences from the Japanese into reconciliation, is an absolute lesson to us all.

Thank you once again to the Lomax family for sharing their story with us.

Also I have to add how exhilarating it was; to meet some of the actors, producer, screen writer and Patti Lomax for a question and answer session after the film.

Well done also to the director of The Maltings, Mr Matthew Rooke for your part in showing this film in Berwick. So brilliant and fabulous for our town.

Karin Graham,

Ravensdowne, Berwick.

charity work

Volunteers are vital

On behalf of Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland, may I take this opportunity to send sincere thanks to all of the many volunteers and supporters in the Borders who have contributed to the work of our charity in 2013.

Chest, heart and stroke illness can affect anyone. Thanks to advances in treatment, and changes in lifestyle, many more people survive heart attacks and strokes than ever before - a real success story for Scotland’s health.

However, this means that many more people, and their families, are living with the long-term impact of these conditions. Right now one in every ten people in Scotland is living with chest, heart or stroke illness.

CHSS is the only charity providing services throughout Scotland for people affected by chest, heart and stroke illness. During 2013 we were able to help more than 17,000 people through our advice line and patient information, support groups, financial grants, and our wide range of local services, which we provide in communities throughout the Borders.

None of this would be possible without the contribution of our volunteers. Their work is absolutely vital in our local support services, charity shops and other activities.

We very much appreciate the commitment, enthusiasm and care they bring to the charity and to their local community.

With continuing grateful thanks, and best wishes for 2014.

David H. Clark,

Chief Executive, Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland.

independence

Scotland liked policies

Mr Walthew (Berwickshire News letters January 9) appears to be confusing policy with constitution.

After listing a number of areas where he feels Westminster policy has changed for the worse he holds out the prospect of all he regards as bad about Westminster coming to Holyrood as the result of a post-NO vote, “nightmare scenario of a London controlled party being voted into Holyrood”.

In the scenario painted by Mr Walthew, were such a party to be voted into Holyrood it would be because the voters of Scotland liked its policies and had voted for it. Since it would have been Scotland’s voters who had voted it in why would this be so nightmarish and what precisely has independence got to do with it?

Neil Stratton,

Heiton Mains, Heiton.

Northumbrians should get vote

The border between England and Scotland has been switching around since the two Kingdoms came into existence.

By the Treaty of York in 1237 the King of Scotland Alexander II gave up his rights to land north of the Tees and South of the Tweed. However, the matter was not settled until the Battle of Neville’s Cross in 1344. So for a mere 259 years only we were English here but not Scottish. Even then the peace was uneasy. The two countries were united under one King in 1603 and everyone in each country acquired the right to dual nationality by 1607. That finally settled the matter.

Three counties of Ulster, voted to leave the UK in 1922 when the Irish Free State was created. Northumberland, Cumbria and Durham must have the right to vote if three counties in Ulster did 92 years ago. We would vote after the decision over independence is taken.

I am not suggesting we vote with Scotland in September in the independence referendum. Nor am I suggesting our vote is cancelled if Scotland votes to stay in the UK. It is about time we had the right to share the benefits of devolution such as free care for the elderly and free university education. We are entitled to join a devolved Scotland if we want to.

Nigel Boddy,

Fife Road, Darlington.

nelson Mandela

Living in a free society

Gregory Lauder-Frost, in his letter of January 9, claims to believe in free speech and to appreciate “living in a free society”. So do I, I fully support his right to attack the record of Nelson Mandela.

However, he must also fully support the right of most of us to disagree with him, and also of some to attack his views.

He is allowed to think and believe whatever he wants, including six impossible things before breakfast just like Lewis Carroll’s White Queen.

Interestingly, free speech and the ability of most people to live in a free society were sadly lacking in the apartheid South Africa he thinks so highly of.

Mr Lauder-Frost found half a dozen web pages which agreed with his view that Mandela was a communist. Google search found over half a million web pages which support the claim that the US Moon landings were faked, but I don’t believe that either.

However, whether or not Nelson Mandela was a communist is a red herring; Mr Lauder-Frost would naturally support his right to be a member of whichever political party he wants, it is part of “living in a free society”.

He claims that Mandela was a terrorist. A terrorist is a freedom fighter fighting against a government you approve of – a freedom fighter is a terrorist fighting against a government you disapprove of. He supported an armed struggle against an unfair anti-democratic system, so did George Washington in the 1770’s and 80’s, Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and Charles de Gaulle in the early 1940’s.

Apartheid South Africa was socially much like Britain in the 16th century: a small minority controlled the government, the economy and the law, there was no press freedom, no free speech, no freedom of movement, torture of political opponents was allowed, there were police executions without trial (Steve Biko and many others).

Britain achieved its current level of democracy and a free society only after a Civil War, successful Dutch invasion, Peterloo massacre, Chartist riots etc. over 300 years. South Africa achieved something similar with relative peace in a few years.

But, of course, Gregory Lauder-Frost claims to know best because he isn’t under the spell of the left-wing conspiracy involving all the main British political parties, the whole British press (print and broadcast), the Nobel Peace Prize committee, the elected leaders of most democratic countries and most churches who gave speeches in his honour or attended Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, and even F.W. de Klerk, the last white President of South Africa, who realised that apartheid had no place in a civilised world and change had to happen.

At about the same time as South Africa moved to democracy, several new countries came into being with the collapse of the former Yugoslavia and Soviet Union. Not many of them achieved a peaceful transfer to democracy and a free society and few of them have maintained it. That South Africa bucked the trend is a tribute to Nelson Mandela, F.W. de Klerk and many others; that is why so many of the world’s leaders praised his achievements, mourned his death and recognised him as a great man who made the world a better place.

Ian Campbell,

Byers Close, Belford.

Party time

Coldstream celebrations

On behalf of Coldstream and District Community Council, I wish to extend a huge thank-you to all those who helped in making Coldstream’s Old Folks Party such a memorable event.

A fantastic evening was enjoyed by all, and it is thanks to the following that this year’s event was such a success.

I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to Janice for organising the event and for pulling together the merry band of eager helpers – sadly they are too numerous to mention individually, but they know who they are - without their selfless volunteering and hard work in setting up the venue, dishing up the meal, serving drinks and undertaking the clear-up operation it would be impossible to provide such an appreciated event.

My gratitude is also extended to Robin, Sylvia and all the staff at the Newcastle Arms for their very generous donation of the welcome drinks and for cooking a lovely meal.

As befits Coldstream, the night’s entertainment was second to none - extra special thanks go to Rob Bell and Kenny Brodie and to Joy Thomson and Alec Young for their musical accompaniment which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Thanks to all the local businesses and individuals who generously provided gifts and donations in support of this event. Without this ongoing support the event would not be possible. The community council is also very appreciative of the generous monetary donations that come from within our community. I know that many benefactors wish to remain anonymous, but they can be assured that their donations are valued and very welcome.

In addition to these donations, we were fortunate enough to receive support from some organisations, most notably the Lodge St John and Ahlstrom of Chirnside. My sincerest thanks are also extended to these organisations.

Finally, to all those who were able to attend, thank-you for making the event truly enjoyable, and we look forward to seeing you again next year.

Wishing all Coldstream residents a happy, healthy and prosperous 2014

Martin Brims,

Chairman, Coldstream and District Community Council.

Second to none

I should like to thank Coldstream Community Council and, in particular, their secretary Janice Gillie for organising another excellent Old Folk’s Party. It can’t be easy to get everything to fall so neatly into place but they managed it. Ninety five of us enjoyed first class food and drink and were royally entertained by Rob Bell and Kenny Brodie and Joy Thompson and Alex Young. The atmosphere in the Hall was wonderful and I’m sure everyone enjoyed it as much as I did. A very big “thank you” to the members of Coldstream Community Council and their friends – you are certainly “Second to None”!

Helen Park,

Market Street, Coldstream.

Super time

I would like to add an extra thanks to everyone involved in making Coldstream Town Party such a success. From the person making up the list of names, Newcastle Arms for food, any one who gave bottles of wine and whisky, setting out the tables, giving raffle prizes, serving the food and washing all the dishes - apologies if I have missed anyone. We all had a super time!! Thanks again.

Janette Campbell,

Lennel Mount, Coldstream.