Letters to the Editor

wind farms

Local voices have been heard

Following the DPEA Reporter’s decision last week, which refused planning permission for the proposed development of ten 125 metre wind turbines at Horn Burn near Ayton, we would like to thank everyone who worked so hard to oppose this development.

Working together the local community has made a difference and every voice opposing this development has been heard. Over 200 residents surrounding the proposed development, the local community councils and local politicians, together with the planning officials at Scottish Borders Council, consistently and assertively opposed this development.

The site at Horn Burn was an inappropriate site for such a large scale industrial wind turbine development and the Reporter has concurred with the many arguments put forward, having refused planning permission on landscape and visual grounds, with a strong reference to residential amenity, and the effect on the the major tourists routes of the A1 and East Coast railway line.

The full decision can be seen at http://www.dpea.scotland.gov.uk/CaseDetails.aspx id = qA349502

Judy Torrance,

On behalf of Sustain our Beautiful Berwickshire.

minden day

Parade was huge success

On behalf of the KOSB Association I would very much like to thank everyone beyond the Regiment who contributed to making Minden Day 2013 such a success.

First, the Tweeddale Press for its consistent support over the last 18 months in ensuring that the importance of having the last Colours return to the museum in the Barracks was well publicised in the lead up to the decision to do so and its coverage of the event the following week.

To Northumbria Police for all the painstaking work prior to the event to ensure that all security checks were managed appropriately and with the traffic management on the day.

Colonel Tony Glenton CBE, TD, FCA, Janette Milburn and Bob Biggs of the Northumberland Lieutenancy for their patience and input in liaising between all offices.

Lieutenant Debra Jerdan and the Cadet Fusiliers of the Northumbria ACF for their great help in setting up the marquee, managing the welcome to guests on the day and of course for presenting the Minden Roses.

Julie Reavley from the Flower Room for preparing 700 roses and a beautiful bouquet presented to HRH The Princess Royal and to Mike Ross for ensuring they arrived on time.

Malcolm Bogaert for providing the vintage military vehicles to ensure that elderly Borderers could join the march through the town.

The Rotary Club for managing the best ever bar service at a Minden Parade and Olympus Marquees for the superb venue.

Susan Howes at Rialta Cafe in Eyemouth for providing superb food.

Nancy Steele and her Dancers who entertained us royally prior to the parade and afterwards at the ball at Marshall Meadows.

David Hester and his team at Marshall Meadows for an excellent evening.

Jim White and the Berwick and Eyemouth Pipe Band for leading the way on the march past and for playing Blue Bonnets O’er the Border at the Town Hall steps.

English Heritage for the generous use of the Barracks that day.

Michael and David at Sheil and Morrison for all the printing as always done in the best of humour despite last minute changes.

Berwick rugby and golf clubs for their hosting of the events which were hugely successful.

And not to miss out the traffic warden who put a ticket on HRH’s car in the Parade carpark on the reconnaissance the week prior to the parade itself, even the Police aren’t immune it would seem.

1100 Borderers and families attended the parade in the Barracks and approximately the same again lined Marygate to show support. The KOSB Association sponsored the event for approximately £25,000 to ensure adequate preparation and subsidy for those former Borderers less able to afford the day and with the estimated additional spend in Berwick from Wednesday to Sunday a minimum of £200,000 it can be deemed a great success for which the KOSB Association is extremely grateful to the people of Berwick upon Tweed in addition to those mentioned above.

Next year’s Parade is set for Saturday, July 26, with the 50th anniversary of the last KOSB National Service intake leaving the Barracks in 1964 and we very much look forward to seeing everyone again on the day.

EPW Swales,

Secretary KOSB Association.

domestic abuse

Support is available

Last month I attended an event highlighting the range of support available to victims of domestic abuse.

The event, organised by Police Scotland, sent out the clear message to women that they should never suffer in silence – help is available and reports will be treated with the seriousness and sensitivity that they deserve.

However, this positive message of support risked being seriously undermined by the continued presence in the Scottish Parliament of disgraced MSP, Bill Walker.

In August, Mr Walker was found guilty of 23 charges of assault and one breach of the peace over a period spanning 28 years. His victims, three former wives and a step-daughter, were subject to attacks from a man described by prosecutors as violent, domineering, controlling and relentless.

His conduct was condemned in the strongest possible terms by MSPs from all sides of the Chamber and last week I joined with MSPs, members of the public and a range of organisations at a rally calling on Mr Walker to resign.

I am pleased that over the weekend, Mr Walker finally decided to do the right thing and stand down. His position was untenable - how could victims of domestic abuse trust Parliament to take action to tackle this most serious of crimes when one of its Members had been convicted of a string of such offences?

Mr Walker’s constituents in Dunfermline deserved better from a person elected to represent them in Parliament and they will now have the chance to elect a new MSP in the coming months.

Despite overwhelming condemnation from MSPs, this sorry episode reflects poorly on the Scottish Parliament whose only course of action was to explore withholding Mr Walker’s salary. Mr Walker could not be compelled to stand down as the maximum sentence he can receive for his crimes is below the threshold set out under Parliamentary rules.

Looking to the future, I firmly believe that we must now revisit the rules to ensure that should a similar situation arise in the future, Parliament is able to take effective action quickly to restore public trust.

In the meantime, I will continue to work with colleagues across the Chamber, with the police and with the wonderful organisations who work to support women affected by domestic abuse. I will be taking this agenda forward as Deputy Convener of the Parliament’s Cross Party Group on Men’s Violence Against Women. We must redouble our efforts to send a message to victims of domestic abuse that support is available and that they must never feel they have to suffer in silence.

Claudia Beamish MSP,

Member of the Scottish Parliament for South Scotland.


GS mystery unresolved

Last year’s shocking breach of data protection by Scottish Borders Council officials and their mysterious data processor, known only as GS, resulted in hundreds of sensitive staff pension documents being dumped in a supermarket rubbish bin more than 50 miles from the scene of the crime.

But after a lengthy (and no doubt costly) investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and a damning written judgment by a tribunal judge which revealed a catalogue of carelessness and neglect it would appear that both SBC and GS have escaped Scot free.

Lawyers for the council successfully persuaded the tribunal to quash the £250,000 fine imposed on SBC by the ICO. And there does not appear to have been any criminal proceedings against any of the perpetrators even though the law was clearly broken and an offence committed.

So council tax payers and, more importantly, former council employees whose personal data was compromised as a result of the scandal, still do not know who was responsible for an act of gross misconduct.

One aspect of this disgraceful saga, which has barely been mentioned, is the concerted efforts by all sides to conceal the identity of the data processor who had apparently been employed by successive Borders councils for 20-30 years without so much as a formal contract or a list of safeguards ever being in place.

In fact, the tribunal judgment showed GS had not had a secure method for the disposal of personal files since 2008. How could SBC or any other potential customer give work to a data processor on that basis? And surely having caused the council such a major embarrassment with potentially far-reaching consequences, GS deserved to be hauled over the coals before being publicly identified.

When the ICO imposed the largest ever monetary penalty on any public authority in the country in September 2012, the penalty notice failed to name the processor, merely referred to the firm as GS. Why? Within days three inquisitive or disgruntled individuals submitted Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to SBC asking for the name of the data digitiser.

But perhaps predictably each request for information was denied.

According to SBC: “Unfortunately, the council cannot provide you with the name of the contractor in relation to the breach. This is regarded as being personal information and is therefore exempt under Section 38(1)(b) of FOISA.”

Even the tribunal report does not tell us who GS might be. So as someone with a family member whose pension records may or may not have ended up in a South Queensferry waste bin I decided to submit a FOI request to the ICO in a bid to get at the truth. I asked for copies of correspondence between SBC and the ICO which took place during the investigation. According to the ICO website one of the Commissioner’s key roles is to “promote openness by public bodies.”

But not, it would seem, on this particular occasion. The information I asked for was withheld. The ICO told me: “Having considered all of these factors we have taken the decision that the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosing it. I am sorry, therefore, that in this instance we are unable to provide you with all of the information that you have requested.”

So the unsolved mystery remains. Does GS stand for Good Samaritan or Great Shredder. It looks as though we will never know.

Bill Chisholm,


war memorials

Borders area does well

The judging of the 2013 Royal British Legion Best Kept War Memorial Competition has now been completed across the whole of Scotland, and I am pleased to report that the Border Area has acquitted itself very well with the memorials in Kelso, Jedburgh, Duns and Eyemouth and Hawick all receiving commendations, whilst the Peebles memorial was the winner in its category.

I would like to offer my thanks and congratulations to those communities for their work in maintaining the memorials at such a high standard. I would also like to remind readers that 2014 will see the centenary of the beginning of World War I, and great emphasis will be placed on next year’s commemoration ceremonies.

Donald Stokes,

Border Area Secretary RBLS.

charity event

Macmillan fundraiser

On behalf of our committee I would like to pass on our very grateful thanks to all of you who turned up to support our pamper evening on Friday, especially all the businesses and stallholders who took part in the evening. It was great to see you especially as it was such a foul evening weather-wise.

As a result of your support we raised approximately £450 on the evening so thank you all once again for this.

Advance notice – our next event is our ever popular Christmas concert on Sunday, December 1, at 7pm in Duns Parish Church with mulled wine and mince pies for all.

Thank you all very much.

Nella Feeney (Press Officer),

The Duns Macmillan Cancer Support Committee.

Floral gateway

Coldstream’s success

Last week Coldstream was awarded first prize in the Large Village category in the Scotland’s Floral Gateway competition.

On behalf of the Coldstream Gateway Association, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved, the organisers, the planters and the waterers for their dedication and hard work over the season. Thanks also MUSTgo to the citizens and businesses of the Burgh who played their part in making the magnificent displays that so impressed the judges. This year the floral displays were greatly enhanced by the artwork and flags commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Battle of Flodden, giving a themed and rounded ambience to all our endeavours.

Per ardua ad flores.

Will Murray,

Chairman, Coldstream Gateway Association.

Coldingham also a winner

The Coldingham Garden Party held a very successful afternoon tea and plant sale in Coldingham Village Hall on Sunday, August 25, raising the amazing sum of £240.

We wish to thank everyone who kindly supported this event.

The members of The Garden Party were also very proud to be presented with the first prize (Small Village Category) at the Scottish Borders Council Floral Gateway Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, September 3. Coldingham village now qualifies to be in the ‘Champion of Champions’ category of this competition next year and we hope that as many people as possible will be able to lend their support to enable The Garden Party to bring this award back to the village too!

The Garden Party can be seen out around Coldingham on Monday afternoons - weeding and watering, planning and planting – you are very welcome to come and join the five of us!

Denise Jones, Maureen Maynard, Margaret Ross, Ethne Turnbull and Linda Wortley.