Letters to the editor – March 27, 2020

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Argyll is not a bolthole

Sir,

Like so many residents of Islay and Jura I was shocked to read that the Daily Mail has published an article siting areas that are the ‘best boltholes’ for escape from the Corona virus. Included in this is the Isle of Jura.

This is as shockingly reckless as it is offensive.

The Isle of Jura is not a ‘bolthole’ as the Daily Mail has chosen to state but a very beautiful island steeped in culture and rich history.

On both Jura and Islay we, like so many rural areas, are struggling to deal with all of the challenges related to the Corona virus out break. Our local health services have very limited resources as it is, along side a population that has many elderly residents who are more at risk to the virus.

We have seen a local uptick in people traveling to Islay in camper vans and this is happening at a time when the UK government is advising against non essential travel.

Those who are choosing to travel to our islands of Islay, Jura and the many other islands in Argyll and Bute in order to avoid the coronavirus may end up inadvertently spreading it to islands who are (so far as we know) not as much affected in the same way as so many built up urban areas are. Such actions are as reckless as they are selfish and I would implore people who do not need to travel to our rural constituency to avoid doing so until this global pandemic has passed.

Jura, Islay and the rest of Argyll are some of the most beautiful places you will ever visit and you won’t find an area where the people are more hospitable and friendly but while this crisis is ongoing I would ask everyone who is not currently living here to avoid traveling here for the time being.
I would also hope that the Daily Mail will retract its article advising people to travel here and to issue an apology to the people of Jura for referring to their island as a ‘bolthole’ and also apologies to the wider Argyll area including Islay for any potential health risks they may have inadvertently created with their reckless travel advise for those who wish to avoid the coronavirus.

Councillor Alastair Redman – Kintyre and Islands ward.

An open letter

To the Scottish public,

During this time of unprecedented uncertainty, we are all concerned about the safety and wellbeing of our families, friends and colleagues.

Our hearts go out to those who have been affected personally by the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), as well as the many communities around the world that are facing extreme measures in an attempt to slow its spread.

We appreciate and are mindful of the challenges individuals are currently facing as well as the impact this pandemic has had on our vital emergency services as well as the grocery retail sector, supply chain and producers.

Like our retail partners, we want to take this opportunity to assure you that Scottish farmers, auctioneers, hauliers, processors and butchers are doing everything they can to maintain the ongoing availability of fresh, locally sourced Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork.

We would like to thank all those who work in the Scottish red meat industry and their families for their ongoing and unwavering efforts to keep our supermarket shelves and butcher shops stocked, fuelling Scotland with top-quality red meat during this challenging time.

As bodies supporting the Scottish agricultural and red meat industry, we are constantly reviewing the developing situation and are doing all we can to support everyone involved in putting nutritious food on your plates.

Alan Clarke, chief executive, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS); Martin Morgan, executive manager, Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers; Duncan Todd, secretary, Scottish Beef Association; Jen Craig, president, National Sheep Association Scotland; Penny Montgomerie, chief executive, Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs; and Gordon King, executive manager, Scottish Craft Butchers.

The answer lies in the soil

What on earth is going on? It was banal enough when Ben Goldsmith – English financier and environmentalist – tweeted that ‘overgrazing’ by upland sheep farmers, was responsible for the devastating floods in South Wales, rather than record-breaking torrential rainfall.

Unbelievably we now have a government official, Dr Tim Leunig, suggesting the whole of the UK does not need farming, and his comparison of the UK to Singapore in this context is absolutely ludicrous. You truly have to wonder if there is something in the water that he is drinking – could it be flood contamination?

Surely, every person having a full and functioning set of neurons and synapses, the complete opposite is the truth, as we dearly need our hard working farming community.

The UK Government should be fully supporting the farming industry and indeed, good land management. The Welsh Assembly has totally lost its way with its mindless policy of devastating Welsh forests with thousands and thousands – an understatement – of trees being felled for wind farms, and compounding the felony by covering acres of land with very limited electricity generating solar parks – Wales is not the Sahara and the sun disappears at night! Solar panels will generate about 12 per cent of their maximum capacity in the UK.

Returning to farming perhaps some kind person should tell Dr Tim Leunig that the answer lies in the soil and then lead him to a darkened and quiet room so he can lie down and contemplate the truth – wise men recognise that truth is the daughter of time, not of authority.

Dave Haskell, Cardigan.