Letters to the editor

jim clark room

Support for Newtown Street option

Your story last week about the options for the future of the Jim Clark Room has prompted me to write and explain the reason for my preferring the existing site at Newtown Street to that behind the former Berwickshire High School building.

I understand from Scottish Borders Council that they anticipate the work necessary for the move to this site would in fact cost about £650,000 but the funding would not be available until the move of the primary school to the old high school building has been completed.

Because of the delay of this until the end of 2018 or later, it would mean that the move of the Jim Clark Room would not be completed until after the 50th Anniversary of Jim’s death on April 7, 2018. Judging by the huge attendance at the 25th Anniversary in 1993 and the large number who attended the 50th anniversary of Jim’s First World Championship last year, I would expect there to be a large influx of visitors in 2018 from all over the world.

The site in the engineering building behind the old high school would be out of sight and out of the town centre and I cannot but think the town’s pubs, cafes and shops would miss out on future tourism because of this. The present room has a welcoming character that would be unlikely to be replicated in a museum in what, at present, is a rather run-down engineering building and the dereliction behind the old school at present is not very attractive.

The tentative plans I have drawn up for converting the whole of the original building in which the Jim Clark Room is housed, with an extension which would provide space for up to 5 of the cars which Jim raced, or road cars which he owned, on a rotational basis have met with the approval of Sir Jackie Stewart, Dario Franchiti, David Coulthard, Clive Chapman (son of Colin who was the man who ran Team Lotus), Alan Morgan, chairman of Club Lotus who ran the 2013 event so successfully,

Graham Gauld (Jim’s first biographer), Steve Copley (Editor in Chief of Autocar, the UK’s leading motoring magazine) and many others who knew Jim or have visited the Room and a surprising number of locals to whom I have spoken all feel strongly that the museum should remain at 44 Newtown Street. Furthermore, I believe my proposals would be as much as £200,000 less expensive.

Whilst I appreciate that Scottish Borders Council and the Jim Clark Trust (both of which have seen my proposals) are right to consider the options carefully, I hope that they will take into account such widespread support for the Newtown Street option among those involved in the sport and Borders residents alike.

Ian Scott Watson,

Harelaw Moor, Greenlaw.

independence

Government’s hand forced

The confirmation by the UK Treasury that it will honour all UK government debt issued up to the date of Scottish independence should Scots vote to leave the UK is to be welcomed, but is a result its own refusal to discuss the terms of independence before the forthcoming referendum.

The refusal by the UK Government to enter pre-referendum negotiations, or to make any contingency plans for what might happen if Scotland votes yes, has spooked the financial markets and this is a clear attempt to calm things down. In essence, the UK Government has had its hand forced.

Lenders understandably want to know who is responsible for paying them after Scottish independence, especially given the dire state of the UK’s finances with a National Debt of around £1.4 trillion. Faced with the hint of a higher interest rate on new UK debt given this continued uncertainty the Treasury was, some may say reluctantly, forced to intervene.

The claim that independence will lead to a Scottish Government having to pay higher interest rates on public borrowing than the rest of the UK is well wide of the mark as Scotland’s entire national debt will be around £100bn.

This is equivalent to what the UK Government currently borrows every year, with Scotland’s entire debt as a proportion of GDP likely to be around 10% lower than the UK, giving confidence to lenders.

On the other hand the same cannot be said of the remaining part of the UK, with an escalating debt mountain and structural deficit, explaining why the UK Government is reluctant to contemplate a future without Scotland.

Alex Orr,

Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh.

Benefits may go with ‘No’

The Labour party manifestos of 1997 onwards said nothing about introducing university fees, city academies or “illegal” wars, yet all were imposed on a population which had not voted for them.

The Conservative Party manifesto of 2010 said nothing about a ‘bedroom tax’ or reducing income tax for the wealthy or privatising the Post Office. It also promised that the NHS would not be restructured, but the biggest unwanted privatisation of it commenced as soon as the Tories came to power.

At the same election the Lib-Dems gave a solemn pledge that they would fight any increase in university fees; a pledge which was quickly forgotten when it joined the Tories in government.

Parliaments have the power to create social benefits but they also have the power to take them away. So when your correspondent Neil Stratton claims that any party voted into Holyrood would be the result of people liking their policies, he is standing on shifting sands. Yes, voters may be attracted to a party’s policies before an election, but it is what that party does in power that matters as demonstrated above.

The policies the Unionist parties have enacted at Westminster show how out of touch they are with Scottish culture. The benefits Scots enjoy are an irritant and threat to the status quo in England. If a Unionist party were elected to Holyrood after a NO vote in September, it would be under great pressure from London to eliminate some, if not all, of our benefits.

All this has everything to do with independence.

Richard Walthew,

Whitsome Crofts, Duns.

macmillan

What an outcome!

I am writing this letter to thank you all on behalf of the Macmillan Cancer Support Duns Committee for all your support in our fundraising in the past year.

We are delighted to tell you that we have sent a total of £8,500 to HQ in 2013!

What a fantastic total from our wee committee and we could not have done it without the continuous support of you all. So thank you all very much.

Just as a wee preview – save the date – our next fundraising venture is on Friday, March 28, when we will have a cake decorating demonstration from the ever popular Robert Whitton. This will be in Duns Parish Church Hall and we look forward to seeing you all there. Details will be posted nearer the time for tickets, etc.

Many thanks to all our wonderful supporters once again.

Nella Feeney,

Press Officer, Duns Macmillan Cancer Support Committee.

knoll hospital

Patients well entertained

Through your column I would like to thank all artists who entertained the patients at the Knoll Hospital Duns over the festive period and at other periods throughout the year.

Thanks also to all who have so generously donated gifts and money for our Christmas raffle and coffee morning, the sum raised was £727.

It has been very much appreciated. Thank you.

Linda Blackie,

Activities co- ordinator, Knoll Hospital, Duns.

mandella

A supreme statesman

David Ben Gurion was involved in the murder of many British soldiers, including those who were blown up in the King David hotel. He became prime minister of Israel and was later welcomed on a state visit to Britain.

The Emperor of Japan whose army committed unbelievable atrocities upon the citizens of the countries it conquered, and caused the horrible deaths of countless British soldiers forced to work on the Burma railway, was also given a State welcome in Britain.

Margaret Thatcher’s friend the dictator General Augusto Pinochet was responsible for the torture and murder of thousands of his innocent fellow citizens, but travelled to Britain often without let or hindrance for years.

Mrs Thatcher denounced Nelson Mandela as a terrorist. Mandela, whose crime was to fight for the freedom of his downtrodden and oppressed fellow citizens, was incarcerated for 27 years.

When released from prison he led his country to true democracy with a remarkable display of forgiveness and compassion.

By his words and actions he was recognised as a supreme statesman by the whole world, in life and in death.

Nelson Mandela will be remembered for centuries, long after the nonentities who try to besmirch his name have been well forgotten.

Richard Walthew,

Whitsome Crofts, Duns.

cASH FOR KIDS

Greenlaw fundraiser

Through your page I would like to thank the children from Greenlaw who went carol singing on December 20 for Mission Christmas, Radio Borders Cash for Kids appeal.

They raised a staggering £211.27. A huge thank you to all who donated too.

Jennifer Mackie,

Greenlaw.

JunioR football

Duns juniors are grateful

On behalf of Duns Junior Football Club I would like to thank all those who attended at our fundraising coffee morning in Duns Parish Church Hall on Saturday. The fantastic sum of £332.57 was raised. Many thanks once again to all those who helped on donated in any way.

Elaine Baxter,

Duns Junior Football Club.

bus services

Fears for rural service

What’s the good of having a Free Bus Pass if there are no buses?

I spent most of my working life on the buses, starting as a conductor in Dalkeith and working my way up to superintendent. I fear that if the present system is kept, more and more rural bus services will disappear forever, which of course will mean that more and more people will be left with a useless piece of plastic in their wallet. I also believe that in a few years time even Berwick Town Services will be threatened.

In my opinion, now is the time to revert to the half fare bus pass.

This will mean that people living in large cities like, London, Birmingham and Manchester will help to subsidise rural routes and perhaps some of the rural bus services that have fallen by the wayside can be reintroduced.

Ian Hannah.

noise pollution

Gritty reality of winter

A silent Sunday morning in winter. Freezing fog. The good folk of Oxton are tucked up warm abed enjoying a peaceful lie-in after the rigours of the working week. Until... a Dornier 17 arrives and circles the town, its BMW engines emitting the cacophony with which we associate fascism.

But wait a minute, it’s not a WW2 Dornier, it’s Scottish Border’s Council’s pavement gritting machine.

Easily confused with a Nazi plane because of the accoustic mayhem it spreads – which has a far greater impact than its grit – it is yet another example of taxpayers’ money being used to make taxpayers’ lives worse. Nothing new there then.

Bill Loneskie,

Oxton.

documentary

Tell us your views

Award-winning history documentary company Testimony Films is making a new documentary series for BBC2 paying tribute to Britain’s Greatest Generation.

We want to hear from men and women in their late 80s, 90s and 100s who have vivid and interesting stories to tell from their past. From childhood to war; romance to retirement – this generation has experienced the most radical amount of change within their lifetime than any other.

Do you have interesting tales of childhood in the 1920s and 1930s? Did you serve during the Second World War or keep our home fires burning? Have you found a new lease of life since retirement? Are your children or grandchildren fascinated by your tales of the past?

If so, we would love to talk to you about your story.

If you would like to share your memories with us please get in touch with either Pete, Emily or Sara on 0117 925 8589, email: pete.vance@testimonyfilms.com, or write to us at 12 Great George Street, Bristol, BS1 5RH.

Emily Sivyer.

FIRST WORLD WAR

Futile waste of time

Queen Mary once said of World War One ”To think we went to war over, of all things, little Serbia.”

My grandfather a decorated World War I hero, considered the conflict to be a futile waste of time, in later life. My other grandfather was a conscientious objector. He was in a reserved occupation so he was never conscripted.

As a founder member of the local Labour Party he believed the war had nothing to do with ordinary working people. The Kaiser was foolish and vain but Germany had universal adult suffrage for men and women when we did not.

Arguably if we had not been drawn into the First World War, Hitler and World War II would never have happened. The Kaiser would merely have won a re-run of the Franco Prussian War of 1870, in a few short months.

Nigel F. Boddy,

Fife Road, Darlington.