Your picture of the Week

Dave Johnston took this view of the snow covered Cheviots from the main road west of Coldstream.
Dave Johnston took this view of the snow covered Cheviots from the main road west of Coldstream.

Dave Johnston took this view of the snow-covered Cheviots from the main road west of Coldstream.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

EYEMOUTH CENTRE NEEDS YOUR HELP

Eyemouth Community Centre is perhaps the most well‐used and popular facility of its kind in the Borders.

Run by Live Borders on behalf of Scottish Borders Council, it provides a vital venue and forum for activities and groups as diverse as boccia, youth theatre, Scottish Country Dancing and various U3A activities.

The facility is run by the Eyemouth Community Centre Management Committee for, and on behalf of, the people of Eyemouth and Berwickshire. The committee represents and acts on behalf of users and user groups to develop and improve the centre for social and recreational use. For example, the entrance hall, additional office space, kitchen and toilet improvements were part of an earlier programme, while plans have been developed for enhancement of other parts of the building, including Hall 2.

Over recent months, however, the Management Committee has struggled to recruit a chairperson, and will shortly lose its secretary and treasurer. The committee will not be able to continue without these officebearers. The excellent work done by the Management Committee and within the community could all be put in jeopardy.

This letter is a plea: please would anyone interested in contributing to Eyemouth Community Centre, whether as a supporter or even as chairperson, write to me via the Community Centre, or contact Martin Driver of Live Borders MDriver@LiveBorders1.org.uk. If you prefer, why not come along to our AGM meeting which is due to take place on May 25 at 7pm at Eyemouth Community Centre?

Ian Whittaker

Eyemouth Community Centre Management Committee

CRITICISED FOR SEEKING ANSWERS

I’m the shareholder referred to by Douglas Younger in his letter about the Berwick Rangers AGM in your March 2 edition.

I’d like to set the record straight on the points he makes.

The AGM provides shareholders with a rare opportunity to hold the people charged with running Berwick Rangers PLC – the board – to account.

Some context about why that’s important: Berwick Rangers’ average league position over the nine years since the last takeover is closer to seventh than to sixth – in a 10-team league. The club reported an £82k loss in the previous financial year, and this season the team exited two cup competitions in embarrassing defeats to non-league opposition. Off the pitch, stadium issues need a long-term resolution.

In light of that fairly grim picture, challenging questions about the management and future direction of BRFC are absolutely appropriate. In fact, it’s surprising that more supporters aren’t looking for answers.

Having been a company director (including being on the board of the same company as the supporters’ club chairman at one time), Mr Younger will know that shareholders have a right to scrutinise the way a board runs a PLC, particularly when performance is sub-par and a coherent plan is vital to be able to deal with future challenges.

Good business practice means boards delivering poor performance are either compelled to improve, refreshed or replaced. Berwick Rangers is not a special case, and I’d contend that the board have got off lightly over the past few years considering years of sub-standard league campaigns.

The accountant who delivered the PLC financial report at the AGM was clear that while the club could just about cope with another year of similar financial loss, it could not sustain a third consecutive year of heavy losses. And the chairman, in his downbeat opening statement, said that if BRFC were relegated into the Lowland League, the club was finished. So no cause for complacency there, though it would be helpful if we had some idea of how the board plans to retain BRFC’s league status in the context of reduced budgets.

The questions which seem to have upset people were put to the board in the context of governance, in other words, about how competently the club is being run by the board. I made reference to a deal by the largest shareholder, the supporters’ club, to purchase shares from the retiring chairman. Via its own social media, the supporters’ club initially reported that the deal would not affect its financial contribution to BRFC, only to report at a later date that the contribution to the club would be several thousand pounds less than originally envisaged as a result of the share purchase.

I asked why the supporters’ club felt the need to reinforce its shareholding when it was already the largest shareholder – a consequence of which meant that the club received less money than expected over the period. That potentially affects playing budgets and translates into performances on the park.

An improvement in recent results has eased the pressure, though Saturday’s loss to Cowdenbeath means the team is more likely to be contesting a relegation play-off place than a promotion one.

I also asked a question about the potential impact of Northumberland County Council’s requirement to save a further £36m over the next three years on future plans to develop Shielfield, but new (full) board member and serving county councillor Douglas Watkin declined to answer. Shortly afterwards, the chairman decided not to take any more of my questions and called the meeting to a close.

Denying shareholders the right to put questions to the board suggests people aren’t keen for their decisions to be scrutinised. Perhaps if they had more confidence in those decisions this would be less of a problem.

During AOB, the chairman twice invited other questions from the floor, so everyone got the opportunity to put their hand up. The only other question on the night came from the supporters’ trust chairman.

In regard to the point about people wanting to hear from the manager, who was in attendance, there was no such provision on the meeting agenda. If the AGM is to include a slot for the manager to update shareholders on team matters (which seems sensible), then next time include it as a stand-alone agenda item.

I’m intrigued by the timing and motives behind Mr Younger’s letter. Can he confirm whether he’s the same Douglas Younger who, shortly after the AGM, wrote to the chairman asking for vice-chairman John Bell to be removed from the board for his response (measured, factual) to a point made by former chairman Brian Porteous? What was the thinking behind that?

I was threatened and heckled at the AGM, unacceptable behaviour which the chairman simply failed to deal with. Oddly, Mr Younger fails to mention any of this in his letter. You’d almost think there was another agenda being played out. The letter ends with another call for everyone to pull together in the best interests of BRFC.

I’m not sure how that can work when supporters are being criticised for legitimately seeking answers from the people charged with running the football club.

Berwick Rangers faces some major challenges over the coming years. What the club doesn’t need is proxies fighting battles against supporters on behalf of vested interests in the boardroom if it is to meet future challenges head on. It’s time to park the playground politics and start thinking about the best way to make Berwick Rangers a thriving, community-based football club.

David Cook

Berwick

DAFFODIL APPEAL RAISES OVER £1,300

May I take this opportunity of thanking all those who gave so generously to the in-store collection at Eyemouth Co-op and the street collection in Duns over the weekend of March 3/4.

The collection in Eyemouth Co-op raised £429.91 and the street collection in Duns raised a provisional total of about £900, giving a provisional total of £1,329.

Marie Curie nurses provide valuable support and hands-on nursing care for the terminally ill so that they can end their lives amongst their loved ones in their own home. This care costs £20 per hour to provide but is free to those receiving it, with only half the cost reimbursed by the NHS rather than the full cost of the provision being met by the NHS as is the case with certain other charities. Therefore Marie Curie depends upon the generosity of the public to keep this service available.

As always, the people of Berwickshire have responded to the appeal and given generously, and the amount raised will provide over 66 hours of nursing care.

Chris Anderson

Berwickshire Fundraising Group

FORLORN HOPE IS ACHIEVED

With the new bird hide at Hule Moss on Greenlaw Moor about to be installed it is a good time to express thanks to all involved in this project.

James D. Lough

Norris Close

Duns

LUMINOUS PEDESTRIANS?

John Wylde’s Transport Matters piece in your March 2 edition makes many good points.

He will, like me, remember a good few attempts at stopping the lighting arms race. In the 70s there was a device introduced to reduce the brightness of stop lamps at night. It was called a night dimming relay. What happened to it?

Probably more of your readers will remember “dim/dip” headlights. What happened to that idea?

Recently I asked a motor engineer to lower the dipped beams on my newish car. He told me that’s how they were designed to work. To dazzle oncoming drivers? Surely not.

We all still have night vision (try looking to one side of a star – it appears brighter) but it’s being trashed by higher and higher light levels.

I suppose one day every little thing will be illuminated and painted with yellow and black chevrons. Where shall we go from there, I wonder. Maybe pedestrians will be banned from our streets – or painted with luminous yellow and black paint?

Betsy Barker

Nenthorn School

Kelso

SALTGREENS COFFEE MORNING

Please can we, through your paper, thank everyone who supported Saltgreens coffee morning on Saturday when £421 was raised.

Jane Johnston

Callerway

Eyemouth

WORRYING ABOUT THE FUTURE

I read with dismay your published letter from Jack Ponton.

I have to assume that he has no children. If I am wrong, then he is evidently deluded by his own myth that his progeny won’t have to worry about the waste products from Torness. I wonder if he has considered how much concrete was poured to build Torness, and how much energy will be required to deal with its spent fuel.

Don’t get me wrong. I think nuclear power is a great achievement and an engineering marvel, but it’s only a battery. It’s putting off the inevitable. It can never produce more energy than that required to build and decommission it and service the requirements of its waste. Our ancestors built windmills to provide power. They produced no waste, and are now often protected by conservationists from demolition.

By the way, I decided as a young man to have no children, and I have a wind turbine in my garden. Perhaps it’s foolish, but I seem to worry more about the future of youngsters in this world than their parents do.

Tony Kime

Nenthorn School

Kelso

NUCLEAR POWER NOT THE ANSWER

I read the letter about all the reasons that wind turbines are not the answer to cheaper, greener energy.

Apparently the opinion of Borders Network conservation Groups is that nuclear energy plants would be the preferred means of achieving this.

It amazes me that when nuclear power is being discussed usually there is no mention of the hazardous waste it leaves behind.

What would happen if there were to be an accident at a nuclear power plant and what would the consequences be? Just because there never has been a fatal accident associated with the nuclear industry does not mean it could never happen.

The high cost of wind power is another aspect noted in the letter especially when wind turbines are being dismantled. What about the cost of decommissioning nuclear power plants? That is not cheap. And look at what is happening at Sellafield - it is apparently the most hazardous nuclear site in Europe.

I do not think that nuclear power is the answer to producing enough energy in the future. If wind power is not acceptable we should be seeking other ways of producing safer, cheaper, greener power.

Joan Davidson

Selkirk