Letters to the editor

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Don’t endanger road safety

Sir,

I was shocked to learn that Argyll and Bute Council is to consider disbanding its Road Safety Unit as part of budget savings for 2018-2019.

The unit formerly employed three officers, but as part of a savings exercise some years ago has already been reduced to one full-time and one term-time officer.

The proposal is to remove this service completely and council justifies this by stating that ‘road Safety information will be available through other organisations’. This suggests to me that they do not understand the complexity of how education and training is delivered. The proposal also does not say which other organisation has the ability and skills to adequately replace council’s current input. Having read Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service local plans I can find no hint that they are ready to accept responsibility.

I believe the current unit plays an extremely active role in promoting road safety education for all road users across Argyll and Bute, and in particular our schools – today’s children are tomorrow’s drivers.

Though one death on our roads is one too many, casualty numbers have been steadily declining since 1970s. Indeed, recent reports show that fatal casualties have been reduced to less that one third of their peak in 1969.   This shows that current methods are working, and I cannot believe Argyll and Bute Council is willing to put this ‘good news’ trend at risk.

The council also has a responsibility to play a major role in road casualty reduction as contained in numerous publications, including Scotland’s Road Safety Framework to 2020; RoSPA National Road Safety Committee ‘Making Road Safety Count’; and the Road Traffic Act 1988 (Section 39).

Whilst I appreciate councillors will have a difficult time deciding on where savings are to be made, I suggest that the small Road Safety Unit should be retained, and the option be removed from the proposed cuts.

Carl Olivarius, Lochgilphead – Road Safety Officer between 1982-2009

Scenic but dangerous A83

Sir,

I used to drive up to Kintyre from the south throughout the 1960s and 1970s for holidays with my parents. Although the Loch Lomond road was more tortuous then, I have no recollection of concern regarding the state of the road, its potential impact on our Sunbeam Rapier (my parent’s pride and joy) or, indeed, our safety.

Now, in the 21st century, my first advice for friends visiting me in Tarbert is to take great care on the journey here. As covered in the editorial in the January 5th edition of the Argyllshire Advertiser, the A83 achieved seriously dangerous conditions over the Christmas and New Year period.

For drivers new to the road, it was an anxiety-filled journey and pretty lethal in the dark – at a time of year when there is considerably more night than day.

From various parts of the globe, including countries with more extreme conditions and far less wealth than ours, visitors always ask the same question: Why is there no drainage along the road, particularly where vegetation and trees have been removed from adjacent slopes? This surely would help to avoid the serious deterioration of the surface?

While we spend on trying to attract new residents, businesses and visitors to the area, we ignore the basic access infrastructure at our peril. A scenic journey it might be, but looking at the view is low on anyone’s priority while trying to avoid ruts at the side, potholes all over – and very often deep surface water.

Quite apart from the dangers posed by the current approach, the lack of long term strategy resulting in ongoing patchwork solutions surely cannot sit comfortably with government, council or providers?

Caroline Macqueen, Tarbert

Christmas tree thanks

Sir,

Huge thanks to the charities and community groups which took part in our Christmas Tree Festival at Christ Church, namely ZamScotEd, Mid Argyll MS Centre,  Mid Argyll Transport Volunteers,  Mid Argyll Pipe Band, Mary’s Meals, Marie Curie, Macmillan Cancer Support, Kilmartin Museum, Guide Dogs, ENABLE, Dochas Carers’ Centre, Argyll Talking Newspapers, Argyll Brass and 1st Ardrishaig Guides.

These are just some of the local charities and groups which make our home such a good place to live in.

The Revd Canon Simon Mackenzie, the charges of Mid Argyll and Arran, Lochgilphead

In grip of obesity

Sir,

At the end of this month, the Scottish Government will close its consultation on its forthcoming Diet and Obesity Strategy.

We hope by then it will have gathered a wealth of evidence to show that regulations to restrict multi-buy offers on unhealthy food and drink would be crucial in helping to stem the rising tide of obesity in Scotland.

There can be no doubt that a bold strategy is needed. Scotland has been in the grip of an obesity epidemic for too long.

Not only is Scotland one of the heaviest nations in Europe, but Scots also buy double the amount of food and drink on price promotion than shoppers on the Continent.

The Scottish Government’s commitment to limit junk food marketing is a step in the right direction but, to progress, regulations are needed to restrict multi-buy offers on unhealthy food and drink.

Obesity is linked to 13 different types of cancer. As part of its forthcoming obesity strategy, the Scottish Government must grasp the opportunity to help families make it easier to keep a healthy weight.

Measures to help us enjoy a better diet and fill our shopping baskets with healthy food will make it easier for us all to stack the odds of not getting cancer in our favour.

Professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK

Public toilets vital for tourism

Sir,

Argyll and Bute Council, in its annual exercise of making what it calls its policy savings, lists 32 options to save in excess of £1.8 million.

I was a member of the council for 22 years, and it was always the tactic of the administration to nominate ‘unthinkable’ options and then withdraw them days before the budget meeting in response to public outrage.

On reviewing the current proposals one which is unthinkable, unacceptable and which would devastate the tourist industry in Argyll and Bute is the proposal to close 36 of the 57 public toilets.

At a time when Scotland is increasingly becoming a global tourist destination, and questions are being asked on how the current infrastructure can cope with the burgeoning demand, a move like this is completely wrong and would lead to Argyll and Bute being considered a no-go area for many tour operators and their customers.

All 36 councillors should consider this when making their budget decisions.

Do not close these toilets and remove infrastructure that is key to supporting our tourism industry.

Robert Macintyre, Serpentine Road, Rothesay

 

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