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Economy growing slowly
Councillor Alastair Redman really should have waited until after the budget before waxing lyrical about growth in the economy (The Argyllshire Advertiser letters page, November 24), or it may be that he just disagrees with the chancellor.
Growth in the economy is shrinking year on year – growth of GDP and productivity are both down. The government’s independent forecaster has downgraded annual productivity growth from 1.7 per cent to one per cent and has said ‘the UK is now growing more slowly than all advanced economies’ and ‘is well behind all the other G7 countries’.
Average wages are expected to be lower by £1,400 in 2021 than forecast in 2016 – that is, lower in real terms than at the time of the 2008 crash which means, according to the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, ‘we are in danger of losing not just one but getting on for two decades of declining earnings growth’.
David Hay, Minard
A winter wonderland
I would like to thank all who supported our winter bazaar at Christ Church this year.
Argyll Brass gave a delightful concert on the Friday evening, and there were more craft and local goods stalls than ever.
We are very grateful to all our hard-working friends who helped us erect marquees and get all ready, and to the many visitors who helped us raise just short of £2,000.
It was a real winter wonderland!
The Rev Canon Simon Mackenzie, the charges of Mid Argyll and Arran, Lochgilphead
Impact of Brexit
The negative impact of Brexit was further felt recently as it was decided where two major European agencies, currently based in London, are to be relocated.
The EU member states took the decision, decided by an arcane secret ballot, as to who will grasp the European Banking Authority (EBA) and European Medicines Agency (EMA), as the UK heads out of the European Union.
Both were much sought-after prizes, considered to be among the EU’s crown jewels, with the former acting as the umbrella regulator for the EU’s banking system and the latter responsible for the protection of public and animal health through the scientific evaluation and supervision of medicines.
By a member state successfully acquiring these, not only is there the cachet of being a regulatory base, but there is the magnetic effect they could have in drawing workers from companies keen to be close to their watchdog.
Nineteen locations submitted bids to host the EMA. Eight want the EBA – Brussels, Dublin, Frankfurt, Luxembourg, Paris, Prague, Vienna and Warsaw – with the Austrian and Irish capitals offering particularly generous free office-space deals, according to insiders.
Following the vote it was revealed that the European Medicines Agency is quitting London for Amsterdam, while Paris won the vote to host the EBA.
Never did I think I would see agencies exiting our shores as the UK plummets out of the EU.
Alex Orr, Edinburgh
Get festive for charity
As the festive season approaches, I am asking your readers to help us raise money for some very special children during their Christmas celebrations this year.
The Children’s Trust is asking people to put on a seasonal smile, don their festive socks and frocks and show some Christmas spirit by getting involved in Festive Friday, a national dress-up day, on December 8.
Haven’t got anything festive? The downloadable Festive Friday toolkit – complete with DIY selfie props – is the perfect accompaniment for your Christmas party and those festive party photos, in return for a suggested donation of £2.
Each pack includes classic Christmas pudding glasses, Santa’s hat and beard, a trendy holly bow tie and some naughty and nice signs to stir things up a bit!
Money raised will help to support children with brain injury from across the UK.
Sign up today at www.thechildrenstrust.org.uk/festivefriday.
Hannah Vince, fundraiser at The Children’s Trust
‘Unacceptable’ cancer delays
Recent Scottish Conservative research has shown that patients are having to wait an absurd amount of time for cancer treatment across Scotland.
For instance, the research shows that one patient in the Western Isles waited 275 days. This is despite the Scottish Government’s target to begin cancer treatment for every patient within 62 days of urgent referral.
Sadly it seems that almost every day there is bad news about how the NHS is being run by the Scottish Government, and this is yet another damning statistic that exposes the SNP’s shambolic mishandling of the NHS.
With so much of both the management of the NHS and its treatment of patients being centralised to near breaking point, the problems that urban Scots face are amplified for residents of Argyll and Bute as well as the rest of rural Scotland.
I would implore the Scottish Government to address this unacceptable and unsustainable situation urgently.
With the demographics of Scotland continuing to show large growth in the number of elderly residents every year this matter will not be going away any time soon.
As I have said so many times before, we in Scotland deserve better than the SNP’s poor governance.
Cllr Alastair Redman, Islay
EU workers ‘cliff edge’
The construction sector has come together with one voice to warn the government of the dangers of the industry facing a cliff edge regarding access to EU workers.
In an unprecedented show of unity, seven of the construction industry’s major trade bodies have set out what they believe to be the sector’s responsibilities and requirements in a post-Brexit labour market.
The ‘Construction Industry Brexit Manifesto’ commits the sector to doing much more to recruit and train additional UK workers to reduce its future reliance on migrant labour. However, it makes clear that this will not be able to happen overnight and that, for some time, there will likely remain an ongoing need for significant levels of skilled EU workers.
The document sets down the industry’s key messages to the government on what it will need from a post-Brexit immigration system in order to be able to deliver the government’s strategic objectives for new housing and infrastructure:
- The government should agree a transition period of at least two years as soon as possible, during which time EU workers arriving in the UK should continue to have a path to settled status.
- The post-transitional migration system should be based on key occupations that are in short supply, rather than on arbitrary thresholds based on skill levels or income.
With the country facing a shortage of skilled workers and the most acute housing crisis in living memory, the government needs to provide certainty to existing EU workers in the UK and enable construction SMEs to attract more home-grown talent into the industry.
Brian Berry, chief executive, Federation of Master Builders; Dr Nelson Ogunshakin OBE, CEO of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering;
Suzannah Nichol MBE, chief executive, Build UK; Marie-Claude Hemming, director of external affairs, Civil Engineering Contractors Association; Professor Noble Francis, economics director at the Construction Products Association; John Slaughter, director of external affairs, Home Builders Federation; Richard Beresford, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders