Your picture of the Week

Swinton Kirk.
Swinton Kirk.

Borders freelance photographer Stuart Cobley captured this image of Swinton Kirk, parts of which date back to the 11th century.

Its bell is famous for being rung as a death knell after the Battle of Flodden in 1513. Please email photographic contributions, along with a brief caption, to berwickshirenews@jpress.co.uk

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

TAKING AIM AT ROD FISHING INTERESTS

I was interested in the letter from Miles Browne (February 2), in which he links the huge increase in seal numbers with the drastic decline in wild salmon stocks – and he is quite right.

A recent Border Television programme highlighted the thousands of seals that now live on the more inaccessible part of the Berwickshire coast, where a few years before there were none.

Back in the 1970s I was involved in talks trying to avert the closure of the small salmon netting stations which operated a few miles apart, all round the Scottish coast. The situation was that the proprietors of the lucrative rod fishing beats on the rivers wanted to put those coastal stations out of business because they believed that this would increase the numbers of salmon being caught on the rivers and so substantially increase their profits. It is a matter of history that they succeeded in firstly closing those coastal netting stations and then they and their cronies in the House of Lords managed to close the river netting stations also.

But instead of leading to an increase of salmon numbers caught by rods on the river, the rule of unintended consequences kicked in and the salmon numbers caught on the rivers declined even faster. This was because in those practical and primitive circumstances which prevailed in rural Scotland 40 or 50 years ago, almost every coastal netting station had an old .303 rifle and practically every seal that showed its nose on the beat was shot.

When the greedy rod fishing interests put those hard-working and closely-regulated coastal netting stations out of business, that intensive and largely-unnoticed cull of seal numbers ceased and the whole balance of nature along our coast has been changing irreversibly ever since.

No longer regulated, the seals have been multiplying year-on-year for almost half of a century, so that now they are not only decimating the wild salmon stocks, but their voracious appetites are destroying the smaller fish that whole colonies of sea birds have always depended on.

Every time I read of the rod fishing interests blaming fish farms and everything else under the sun for the drastic decline in salmon numbers, I hear a murmured chorus of long-dead salmon netsmen in the back of my head saying: “Hell mend ye.”

Irvine Inglis

Reston

MAIN ROAD IS AN EMBARRASSMENT

Can I wish MSP John Lamont good luck in his efforts to get the A1 in Berwickshire upgraded.

I regularly drive north on this road, leaving Eyemouth about 7.45am.

Cars taking risks overtaking on the single carriageway is a daily occurrence. Tractors and lorries driving at 40mph cause frustration.

Calling it the A1 is a joke – there’s nothing A1 about this road. It is an embarrassment, being the main east coast route south.

Only on Wednesday last week I was in a long queue of cars behind a tractor which passed road ends and a lay-by where he could have pulled in and allowed the traffic to get by.

Let’s all get behind the Mr Lamont with this very necessary improvement.

P. Beveridge

SHAMBOLIC STATE OF AFFAIRS AT BGH

During the last 15 months I have had to visit, on a regular basis, St John’s Hospital in Livingston, the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh and Borders General Hospital, and have and have had very different experiences with regard to parking.

At St John’s there is a dedicated parking area free of charge for anyone with an appointment, at the Royal Infirmary you have to pay, but so far I have always found a space, while at Borders General you just cannot get parked at all.

I have arrived just before 9am to find all of the car parks full, including the one at the cricket pitch, so who are all of these people at that time as they are certainly not visitors? And after that time it is just hopeless.

On my last two visits I have had to park outwith the hospital grounds on a muddy verge and then walk in, and the time before that I parked in a car park – not in a bay, but not obstructing anyone – and came back to a ticket on my windscreen for £90.

There is also the problem of air pollution as any time you are in the car parks there are several vehicles driving around in low gears looking desperately for spaces that are not there.

As for the residents of Darnick, they must despair as the village is full of parked cars all day on a road not suitable for this purpose. Also, what must it do for the value of their houses? – not much, I suspect.

Perhaps an answer would be to charge for parking which would probably free spaces, though it is a sad state of affairs if you have to pay to attend a hospital, either as a patient or visitor.

I have no idea who the councillor is for this area, but it is high time something was done to create more parking spaces – a far more important task than supporting the exorbitant cost of housing the Great Tapestry of Scotland in the Borders.

Finally, last month I witnessed an elderly man with his wife in a wheelchair having to walk from outside the hospital grounds as he could not get parked in any of the car parks – what an absolute shambles.

George Storey

Glebe View

Hawick

YES, IT’S A CASE OF HEART OVER LOGIC

Your letters pages last week made interesting reading.

Firstly, Richard Walthew said there apppeared to be three distinctive groups involved in the independence debate.

I feature in his first group, being never to vote for “a self- sufficient Scotland, no matter how convincing evidence of the wealthy country it would be”.

This assumption was made on the same day that the GMB union warned that Scotland is on the brink of an economic and employment crisis, going on to predict 160,000 job losses, chronic manufacturing decline and biting austerity. This prediction, coming from an organisation which hates the Tories probably as much as the SNP does, must have some substance.

So I request Mr Walthew to highlight his “convincing” evidence to the contrary.

The second group are “people who have placed hope above fear, have studied the assets which Scotland has, which will ensure a prosperous future in an independent country”.

This epitomises the stereotype Yes voter, ignoring logic and voting with their heart.

The third group are depicted as the undecided, who, in his mind, are moving towards a Yes vote.

I beg to differ. Why would anyone vote Yes, unless they vote with their heart?

We would lose the Barnett formula, which has given us more income per household than any other UK country. Also, we would be in limbo outside the EU, with little chance of joining, even if it doesn’t implode after the UK escapes.

Where would we get the money to fund the SNP’S giveaways? Alex Salmond intimated during the 2014 referendum that welfare benefits could increase after a Yes vote – if benefits were likely to be squeezed, I’m sure voters in inner-city Glasgow and Dundee would soon change their minds.

All these facts would lead to an increase in the No vote.

The majority of the electorate know that whatever powers Westminster allocates to the SNP, it will never be accepted as enough, so the nationalists’ posturing is becoming embarrassing. For the sake of Scotland’s future, it’s time they acted like grown-up politicians and ran the country as best they can, considering their limited comprehension of what it entails. Secondly, MP, Calum Kerr, had his usual pop at the “Daft Tories”.

In this enlightening article, he, as usual, cast doom and gloom on any proposal presented by the Westminster Government.

One gem was that Brexit is about breaking links we’ve enjoyed for decades. Obviously, independence from England is classed differently.

But his total dislike of the Tories might not be self-serving if he wants to retain his lifestyle in Westminster.

His election was basically unforseen. The local Lib Dems, unlike the rest of the country, were loyal to a well-liked MP, Michael Moore, giving him a sizeable vote. Conservative John Lamont also received a sizeable vote and, obviously, Calum Kerr a slightly more sizeable vote. The result was a shock, but rectified at the Scottish Parliament elections when Paul Wheelhouse tried to emulate his success. The Lib Dems decided that voting Tory was preferential to having another SNP zealot – and Mr Lamont won with an increased majority.

So if, which appears likely, Mr Kerr becomes a one-trick pony, his best chance of holding onto the champagne lifestyle could be to reinvent himself as a True Blue.

Graham Holford

Hawick

GOING IT ALONE NOT THE MAJORITY VIEW

Richard Walthew’s letter (February 2) argues the case for Yes on independence, no doubt in expectation that Nicola Sturgeon will soon be calling for a second referendum as her Brexit demands are not acceded to.

Yet portraying those who support Scotland’s positive place in the UK as “avowed unionists” who cannot envisage a “self-sufficient Scotland” simply parrots the SNP’s standard dismissal of those who do not agree with them.

The point is not whether Scotland could survive and ultimately thrive as a separate nation. Rather, it is whether it makes any sense to turn our backs on those who we have had the closest of interdependence with over the course of so many generations.

Scottish independence is not impossible, it is merely not the preference of a majority who recognise the many ways we are stronger socially, economically and culturally as part of the UK. Remaining in the UK is a reasoned choice that has nothing to do with Mr Walthew’s implied accusation of “fear”.

As for the “hope” that the SNP like to claim for themselves alone, it sadly so often appears more like nationalist wishful thinking.

Keith Howell

West Linton

Peeblesshire

NATIONALISTS’ STRANGE ATTITUDE

Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP insist that Scotland must remain in the EU single market and will hold another referendum if it is dragged out against “her” wishes.

It is a strange attitude to take since Scotland does four times more trade with the rest of the UK than it does with all of the other 27 countries in the EU taken together.

Furthermore, although goods are sold tariff free, if our net contribution to the EU paid by taxpayers was imposed on traders it would amount to a tariff of more than 7%.

William W. Scott

St Baldred’s Road

North Berwick

CHANGE OF AGM VENUE

The Berwick branch of the KOSB Association has had to change the venue for its AGM.

It will now be held in the KOSB Association headquarters, The Barracks, Berwick, at noon on Saturday, February 18.

W. Heaney

Primrose Bank

Galashiels

EX-SERVICEMEN’S ASSOCIATION

Thanks to newspaper editors up and down the country, the British Element Trieste Force Association has recruited 40 new members over the past 20 months.

This association was formed in 2002 for those ex-servicemen who served in the Free Territory of Trieste from 1945 and 1954. In addition to the veterans – average age 86 – we welcome family members as associates, some of whom spent time in Trieste as children.

Photographs and memories are published in a quarterly magazine and further information is available on the association website. Regional meetings are held in various parts of the country.

The 2017 annual reunion will be in Cardiff over the weekend of March 17, 18 and 19.

If you are interested in joining, please get in touch with me by phone (01665 589289), email (dagriggs@btinternet.com) or write to Suilven, Ellingham, Chathill, Northumberland NE67 5HA.

David Griggs

(membership secretary)

COFFEE MORNING

The 1st Duns Brownies would like to say a huge thank you to all who supported their recent coffee morning in Duns Parish Church Hall.

A fantastic sum of £385 was raised which will go towards providing fun activities and experiences for the girls.

If any girls of 7-9 years age would like to join, please register interest on the Girlguiding website and we will get in touch.

Sally Fleming

(Brown Owl)

Preston

Duns

GRATEFUL RIDERS’ ASSOCIATION

On behalf of Coldstream Riders’ Association, I would like to extend our thanks to the people who came out and supported us at our coffee morning and quiz night, both of which have taken place within the last two weeks.

Between the two events, we have made a profit of £664, which is amazing. Thank you all – your support is greatly appreciated.

Dawn Clough

Coldstream Riders’ Association