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Scotland’s road mentality

News of £36m funding to support walking and cycling announced by Transport Minister Humza Yousaf is to be welcomed, albeit part of an £80million funding pot already allocated.

Far too often, we experience how sharing roads among pedestrians, cyclists and motorists leads to unwanted collisions that could have been prevented had the road conditions and visibility been better. Therefore, we support separating pedestrians, cyclists and motorists through an expansion of the network of walking and cycling paths across Scotland.

We would like to stress, however, that measures like these will not single-handedly lead to safer roads. The road mentality in Scotland still favours the motorist over more vulnerable road users, which presents a huge barrier to more people taking up active lifestyles.

More needs to be done to change our road culture for people in Scotland to feel safer regardless of their means of transportation, ultimately empowering them to lead healthier and more active lifestyles.

Perhaps it is time we started to beat the ‘presumed liability’ drum once again?

Brenda Mitchell, Road Traffic Accident Law (Scotland) LLP, Edinburgh.

Getting up bus steps


Some people have difficulty getting up and down the steps on the Glasgow bus. We asked West Coast Motors about this and they gave us the answer we wanted.

All Citylink buses are fitted with an access ramp, worked by the driver. A platform comes out on to the pavement, with a holding bar, and is then raised up to floor level. This is designed as a wheelchair lift, where two seats at the front have to be arranged to be taken out, to give plenty of room.

It was agreed, however, that if someone felt nervous about climbing up or down the stairs, they could also use the access platform. Once they have paid their ticket, they can walk to a seat.

West Coast Motors asks anyone wanting this service to please remember two things.

Firstly, book your single or return tickets by phone or on the Citylink website.

Then, 48 hours before your journey, phone Citylink and tell them the times and details of the booking you have made and let them know you will be using the access ramp. The telephone number is 08712 663333.

Kirsty McCuaig and Patricia Crawford, Mid Argyll Buddies.

Countryside grants available


The ongoing effects of weather, bureaucracy and concern for the future continue to put our countryside under pressure, with few avenues to turn to for support.

This can have dramatic consequences for the rural economy and the people who live and work there.

The Prince’s Countryside Fund is committed to supporting community-led projects that will re-invigorate and sustain farming networks and the countryside by providing services and amenities through its grant programme.

Open for applications until June 14, grants are available for up to £50,000. If you are involved in a community-run or farming support project and think your organisation may benefit – or if you know someone who might –  visit  www.princescountrysidefund. org.uk/grants.

The fund has supported a diverse range of projects, including a community transport app in Argyll and projects on Barra, Orkney and Shetland. We are proud to have distributed more than £9 million since 2010 to more than 250 projects led by these grassroots organisations.

It is crucial we help rural areas during these times of change to retain a thriving countryside and encourage a sustainable farming sector in the UK and would encourage people to apply for our funding.

Claire Saunders, director, The Prince’s Countryside Fund.

How endangered are birds?


At first sight, it seems odd that the controversy over the reported disturbance to common gulls, oystercatchers and black guillemots at the old oil depot in Ardrishaig is focused on a breeding colony of common gulls.

I’m no bird expert and hadn’t realised common gulls are less common than the bigger varieties or that they’re a declining species.

But among the reasons given for this are predation by mink and the loss of open rubbish dumps and both might be contributing factors in Mid Argyll.

It’s surely hardly surprising that the only breeding colony along the canal is at the Ardrishaig end, where the urbanisation around the tidal flats of Loch Gilp and the Lingerton dump offer prime scavenging opportunities.

I don’t know whether they lose out to the bigger gull species when it comes to local island nesting sites, or whether the old Gleaner site might offer other advantages, for example, maybe less vulnerable to mink predation – but could it be the gulls are there primarily because of man-made feeding opportunities and that they’ll find an alternative site that’s similarly convenient?

Likewise, the smaller populations of oystercatchers and black guillemots, however, although they’re also both amber listed they don’t scavenge and seem to be more dependent on the sea and shore for their livelihoods.

Their decline might be of more concern but they’re hopefully less swayed towards easy pickings around Loch Gilp and more evenly distributed to Loch Crinan.

Perhaps Jim Dickson and Andrew Tongue can enlighten us further on just how endangered the populations of these three species are in Mid Argyll.

Robert Wakeham, Lochgilphead.

Inveraray dog concern


Please would the parents of the young girl who may have witnessed a recent incident with a man and dog in Inveraray Main Street contact my husband and I through this newspaper?

We saw a man who, we believe, mistreated a dog in the street at 8.30pm on Sunday April 29.

We are both keen to know this young person is alright as she appeared to be frightened, running off at speed with her two dogs.

Knowing she was fine would put our minds at rest. We can still see her face full of horror and hear her cry.

Otherwise we had a lovely holiday. You have a most beautiful part of the country to live in.

Name and address supplied.

Damaged roads


It has been announced recently a Scottish Conservative government would invest £100 million into fixing potholes over the course of the next parliament.

We all rely on our roads but they are now plagued with potholes which are damaging cars. Beyond our concerns for public safety, this systematic under-investment is slowing our economy and costing local councils a fortune in compensation for car owners.

We recognise the importance of well-maintained roads and we are willing to invest in it.

The SNP has consistently neglected Scotland’s roads and the results are obvious for everyone to see.

Councillor Alastair Redman, Islay.

Six swallows seen

On Monday May 14, I spotted six swallows over the rear of Meadows Place, hopefully heralding a decent summer.

First seen this year.

Mike Power, Lochgilphead.

Westminster ‘power grab’


During this week’s Holyrood vote on the UK Government’s Withdrawal Bill, Labour, the Greens and LibDems joined the SNP in an overwhelming rejection of the UK Government’s currently-drafted Brexit plans, voting 93 to 30 against the bill.

While the Scottish Government agrees in the need for UK-wide frameworks, it has described the retention of the overall control of agriculture, fisheries, food labelling and public procurement as a power grab.

The Scottish Parliament has spoken loudly and clearly, and if the UK Government wants us to believe they value Scotland and devolution, they must respect the vote and remove the proposed power grab.

Any constraints placed on the existing powers of the Scottish Parliament without consent would be a democratic outrage.

During Prime Minister’s Questions, Theresa May failed to reassure us she will respect the decision of the Scottish Parliament. If she does choose to ignore the vote and force through this legislation, she will be breaking the conventions of the 20-year-old devolution settlement and imposing a power grab upon Scotland against our will.

Brendan O’Hara, MP for Argyll and Bute.