Louise Renton, from Duns, took this image of deer near Crystal Rig wind farm, Cranshaws.
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
LET THE BORDERS PUBLIC DECIDE
You reported on March 9 that Councillor Michael Cook is continuing his campaign to have a Berwickshire flag, together with a Union one, flown at the Scotland/England border at Lamberton.
I believe there are strong arguments against this.
The A1 lay-by, with three Saltires on tall flagpoles alongside the large ‘Welcome to Scotland’ sign, was designed to be eye-catching for north-bound motorists and this should not be watered down.
That said, there is no reason why Berwickshire, or Scottish Borders Council, could not have an official flag. A new flag can reflect local pride and identity, and lends itself to a great many uses other than flying at the border.
If Berwickshire is to go down the path of designing a new flag, I suggest it would be far better to open up the process to public engagement and competition, rather than have a pre-determined design imposed, as Councillor Cook implies.
During the last decade, Orkney and Caithness councils have set the gold standard by involving local communities in the design of their new flags.
Both local authorities launched a competition, set out guidelines and invited the public to submit ideas for a new flag. A judging panel then deliberated and chose from the scores of entries the four or five best designs, and these were then put to a public vote.
In each case the winning flag design is striking.
This is a process Berwickshire would do well to follow.
NOT GOOD ENOUGH, EAST LOTHIAN
I was shocked to learn recently about the paltry amount allocated per hour for care of elderly and disabled people at home.
How can East Lothian Council possibly justify paying £15.41 per hour when the average is £21.58 for Scottish authorities? Admittedly, this figure will be pushed up by care provided in the far reaches of the Highlands and Islands, where travel costs are higher. However, a fair comparison can be made with neighbouring authorities and the comparison is not flattering.
When people think of home care workers they usually focus on the needs of older people. However, the service given to younger disabled and chronically-sick people is more demanding – in terms of complex needs, length of time care is required and continuity of provision.
Recently, two providers are reported to have withdrawn from tendering in East Lothian because of the low rates offered.
The Action Group works with children and people with support needs and learning difficulties, and has provided specialist care workers for 31 people and families locally; Carr-Gomm also works with a similar group. Additionally, SEEL, a local social enterprise, withdrew from providing services – I understand for similar reasons.
In April 2016 information was published explaining the work of the new East Lothian Integrated Joint Board and reported a two-year commissioning project to develop specialist and ‘help to live at home’ services. How can East Lothian Council commission specialist services from providers which decline to tender?
Some of the blame has been placed on the new living wage, yet other authorities appear to have coped with this.
In September 2016, the minutes of the integrated board reportd a manager stating that it is “not reasonable to expect providers in East Lothian to fund the living wage based on prices agreed three years ago”. The committee agreed to fund an additional £800,000 to underpin the costs of implementing the living wage. Further sums have since gone to adult wellbeing, and to prevent delayed discharges for older people.
However, it is clear that this is not enough.
In a local supermarket I saw an advert for carers to work with people at home. It stressed that there were no local authority contracts, and that home care workers were allocated a caseload without set hours so they could work with their clients as needed. It also indicated better pay than offered by other providers.
Clearly what is developing locally is a two-tier system. And this in one of the most prosperous local authority areas in Scotland.
And what of the human cost? Younger people with complex needs and their families will be faced with uncertainty, anxiety and disruption in their daily life.
East Lothian Council may be able to recruit replacement carers, but this is unlikely to offer the continuity of care that is essential to the dignity and quality of life of younger disabled people.
As a qualified social worker and former hospital social work manager, I say to the current Labour/Conservative/Independent administration: this is not good enough.
(Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate for Dunbar and East Linton)
PLEASE, NO MORE POLITICAL BEDLAM
Separation Attempt 1, we remember, was “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”.
But now the nationalists are back in less than three years demanding another go.
Which part of “no” is it that they don’t understand? Brexit is just an excuse – if not that, it would be something else.
The good people of the south of Scotland don’t want another two years of political bedlam.
Despite Nicola Sturgeon’s strident claims, she does not have a mandate for a second independence referendum. There have been no “material changes in circumstance” since last time round. We are still material members of the EU and will be for at least two years.
Only 45% of those Scottish voters eligible to vote actually voted to remain in the EU. Hardly a convincing victory, especially as there was no real Leave campaign in Scotland.
Remember how Leave campaigners were attacked by political thugs in Edinburgh and Glasgow?
The motivation of the SNP is treacherous.
It wants to break the Union – even though it’s the Union which keeps Scotland, with its deficit worse than Greece, afloat, and furnishes the £1,200 per man, woman and child of extra expenditure paid for by the English taxpayer to bankroll all the freebies for which the SNP is unstinting in claiming credit.
Sturgeon, Alex Salmond and their cronies are on a monstrous ego trip at the expense of the Scottish people.
Only a clear manifesto commitment without weasel words put before the electorate in the 2021 Scottish election would give a mandate to usher in another two years of stressful political bedlam. No such mandate has been given.
Ms Sturgeon and Mr Salmond arrogantly claim to represent Scotland.
They don’t – they represent their followers.
David Cameron gave the nationalists everything they wanted in 2014 – timing, the question, the format.
Why should Prime Minister Theresa May do the same again?
There will be no Yes/No question next time. The Electoral Commission vetoed the Yes/No format for the EU referendum as giving advantage to the Yes side.
The question when Separation Attempt 2 eventually comes round can only be: “Do you wish to remain in or leave the United Kingdom?”
TRADING TIES AND NICOLA STURGEON
Nicola Sturgeon pledges to boost trade with Bavaria and intends to stengthen economic co-operation via a joint declaration.
Beyond her domestic remit, but fair enough maybe.
This is just as Ms Sturgeon intends to write to Theresa May to seek Westminster’s permission, via a section 30 order, to attempt to separate Scotland from the rest of the UK and ultimately erect a trade barrier between us.
The nationalist leader enthuses that “Scotland and Bavaria have much in common”.
That would be more than Scotland has in common with the rest of the UK then, Ms Sturgeon?
SAYING ONE THING – DOING THE OPPOSITE
It’s instructive that Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has said: “I’ve never been caught out”.
It displays the arrogance of someone who thinks they are untouchable and believes they can get away with any contradictory comment or broken promise. Because she has a record of someone who says one thing and then does a U-turn, or has previously done the complete opposite of what she claims.
An indication of how she thinks she can get away with doublespeak is when she told BBC Newsnight on October 24, 2011, she had “lived and worked my entire life in Scotland, never been anywhere else, never wished to be. I’m Scottish to my bones”.
So how come she applied to be the Tory candidate in the English seat of Bromsgrove in 2010?
This is the politician who promised before the 2014 independence referendum that “ voting ‘No’ means we stay in the EU”. But now she is backing a Prime Minister who could not only take us out the EU, but the entire single market.
How does she reconcile her promise to voters to keep Scotland in the EU with her unconditional support for a PM who could impose hard Brexit?
Also before the 2014 referendum she signed pledge that a ‘No’ vote would mean “power lies with the Scottish people” and said Scotland was an “equal partner” in the UK.
Yet now she allows a Prime Minister that the UK hasn’t voted for from a party Scotland doesn’t vote for to signal she will ignore the majority of representatives elected by those Scottish people. A Tory party that still has less support than the low point for Margaret Thatcher in 1987.
But it is on the Brexit elephant in the room where she now thinks she can get away with letting Theresa May impose hard Brexit on Scotland. She now calls it an “opportunity”, but before the EU referendum was singing a different tune.
She said that “there will be a large economic cost of Brexit”; that it was based on “lies” and “fantasy economics” and families “couldn’t afford” it; that thousands of Scottish jobs are “reliant” on exports to the EU.
If that was the case before June 23, 2016, surely she believes it is still the case now? If not, why not?
It’s a mark of Ruth Davidson as a politician that she thinks she can tell the public anything and get away with it. Maybe the public can take the opportunity in the local elections this May to send her the message that they won’t be taken as fools by an arrogant Tory party which thinks it can do what it likes to Scotland and people will just take it.
CHARITY BANKING ON PEDAL POWER
I am calling on your readers to join the fight against heart disease by signing up to the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) 54-mile London to Brighton Bike Ride on Sunday, June 18.
As Europe’s oldest charity bike ride, the event attracts tens of thousands of participants from all corners of the UK each year.
For the first time in the event’s history, the use of electronic bikes will be permitted this year. I hope this will encourage more riders of all cycling abilities to get in the saddle and take on the challenge.
Families, friends and colleagues can enjoy a fun day out together while cycling through some of the south-east of England’s most picturesque counties.
In Scotland, 15,500 people die each year from heart and circulatory disease.
The event has been running for more than 40 years and in that time 814,000 cyclists have raised over £65million.
Thanks to our research, huge progress has been made in saving lives, and the number of deaths from heart and circulatory disease in the UK has halved since the 1960s.
You can easily sign up for the London to Brighton Bike Ride, sponsored by Tesco and Jaffa, by visiting bhf.org.uk/L2B
(head of events, British Heart Foundation)
Eyemouth and District Amateur Swimming Club would like to thank everyone who came along to its coffee morning on Saturday, March 18, in the Masons’ Hall.
A fantastic £373.95 was raised for the club.
We’d also like to thank the many local businesses who donated to our raffle – your generosity was very much appreciated.
‘ALLO, ALLO’ AUDIENCES
May I, on behalf of Eyemouth Variety Group, thank our ‘Allo, Allo’ audiences for their great support of our recent production.
There are many, many people who helped in lots of different ways with our production – thank you. We are delighted with the many kind comments regarding the production and look forward to welcoming you to our junior group’s production of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ in November.