Letters to the editor

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Fish farm credit due


I welcome the decision by Kames Fish Farming Ltd not to pursue their application for a 12-cage fish farm in the Sound of Jura.

I have supported the campaign by local residents against the proposal, which was widely seen to be untenable said a result of the environmental, marine and geographic features of the site.

I think the company has been wise and responsible in concluding that the latest environmental evidence, brought forward by SEPA, suggests that permission would not have been granted for this site and withdrawing their plans in the light of that evidence.

I wrote to Fergus Ewing, the relevant government minister, at the very outset raising serious questions about the proposals and they have never been satisfactorily answered by the company.

The community – particularly through the Friends of the Sound of Jura – has campaigned with vigour and intelligence. Credit is due on all sides, both to those local residents and individuals from further afield who have been proved right about this particular site and to the company for avoiding a long, drawn-out and acrimonious formal planning process that would inevitably have ended in bad feelings on one side or the other.

I am certainly not against aquaculture, having had ministerial responsibility for it when I held the environment post, but not all sites are suitable and establishing a fish farm in a Marine Protected Area seems to me – and many others – a particularly bad and unacceptable idea.

Michael Russell MSP

In defence of the NHS


In reply to the letter published  in the Argyllshire Advertiser on Friday November 24 criticising the local GP practice, I want to write in their defence.

The Americans, Australians, Canadians, French, Italians and others are all proud of their countries and achievements. Why are we so unappreciative and critical of our achievements, especially the NHS?  The NHS is not perfect, but it is also abused and under appreciated by some patients.

During my life I have had the ‘misfortune’ to need treatment from several departments of the NHS and my care in each case has been very good – care which was carried out by hard working, caring, well trained staff. I have recently been diagnosed with cancer and unlike Councillor Redman’s doom and gloom description of the NHS, my diagnosis and treatment was fast and efficient.

The care and attention I have had locally has been exemplary and I cannot praise them highly enough. They have, without exception, gone above and beyond the call of duty in their treatment of me.

We do not appreciate our NHS enough, and as far as I am concerned the new system works.

Name and address supplied

RBS closure ‘cynical’


I am calling on the Westminster government to step in and stop the proposed closure of 62 Royal Bank of Scotland branches, and have already called on the chief executive of the RBS to revisit the decision.

These closures will have a devastating impact on all of Scotland but especially in the Highlands and Islands where 13 of these branches are earmarked for closure.

The reasons used in justification are cynical. We have the worst broadband in Scotland, and indeed in the UK, and therefore the ability to bank online is a distant dream rather than a reality.

While we rightly concentrate on service provision, we must not forget the staff who work in these branches. They are losing their jobs and the distance they would have to travel to alternative branches will make relocation impossible. Neither do they have a hope of gaining a similar job in these rural communities, where jobs are scarce.

These are closures being directed by the bank that we bailed out – the people making these decisions owe their own jobs to the communities they are now riding roughshod over. This bank belongs to the people and the bank must make the people its priority.

The Westminster government could intervene to stop this on behalf of all us, the shareholders. They must – because it was them who changed the way pensions were paid forcing people to put their pension straight into their bank account and now, because of that, they will be unable to access it.

Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands Labour MSP

Proud of youngsters


We should be very proud of the young people of Mid Argyll, especially those that worked together to produce and perform the Acting Up’s version of Cinderella.

The audience was entertained during three performances of a cracking show. I still have a sore throat from the laughing, singing and shouting ‘its behind you!’

What is truly impressive is that Acting Up is a club run by the young people themselves with very little adult involvement, showing that they can be responsible, productive and have fun at the same time. Not only did they give us fantastic entertainment, they put in over 100 hours of rehearsal time.

These young people are a credit to our community and should be congratulated on what they have achieved.

I can’t wait for the next show- well done!

Becs Barker, Minard

Scots most taxed


Despite the SNP manifesto promise not to increase taxes on basic rate payers, the SNP recently voted against that manifesto in support of higher taxes on ordinary workers.

Three of the four positions in the SNP’s tax paper would hit basic rate payers with higher taxes. Two of these approaches would see tax increase on everyone earning over £24,000 and another on everyone earning over £27,000.

It’s clear that business and the public do not support higher taxes that would damage our economy. A Federation of Small Business survey found that 79 per cent of business owners do not want higher income tax in Scotland and a Survation poll found that only 22 per cent of respondents would support higher taxes.

In contrast, since 2010 Conservative-led governments have cut income tax by £1,005 for basic rate payers in Scotland. Since 2010/11 the personal allowance has increased from £6,475 to £11,500 in 2017/18.

The SNP government’s own analysis found that increasing the additional rate of tax could result in lower revenues. The paper suggested that a 5p rise would lose £24 million under a high behavioural response model.

The SNP government’s block grant will be protected in real terms next year – so any cuts they make are out of choice rather than necessity. The Scottish Government’s budget will increase by £479 million in 2018/19 – a 0.1 per cent increase in real terms.

Even the most radical of the SNP’s tax policies would only increase income tax revenue by two per cent. Approach three would raise taxes on half of all taxpayers but raise only £255 million in additional public spending. The Scottish Government’s draft budget 2017/18 projected income tax receipts of £12.3 billion in 2018/19.

Now only the Scottish Conservatives are on the side of the majority of the Scottish people. The SNP has no democratic mandate to impose austere tax rises on low and middle earners in Scotland.

The SNP seems shockingly keen to make Scotland the most taxed part of the UK. Is this what the SNP mean when they say that they are stronger for Scotland?

Councillor Alastair Redman, Islay