Letters to the editor – January 1, 2021

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Deeply damaging to farming

Sir,

As always in such matters, the UK-EU Brexit deal will invariably throw up more than a few surprises aside from the usual headlines heralding a British ‘victory’ in negotiations.

The fact that, for example, seed potatoes are not to be included in the deal will be deeply damaging to our rural economy.

Scottish seed potato farmers are one of the biggest exporters of potatoes in the world, from which crops are grown to be used in the production of the ware crop, chips and crisps. The sector in Scotland accounts for around 80 per cent of UK production and is worth about £122 million annually.

One fifth of these exports go to the EU, amounting to more than 20,000 tonnes a year.

This is clearly a disastrous Brexit outcome for Scottish farmers and like all other aspects of Brexit, foisted on Scotland against its will.

A terrible negotiating failure on the part of the Tory government, and a devastating blow to an extremely valuable part of Scotland’s farming industry, I am sure it will not be the first damaging impact to be highlighted once the deal is fully analysed.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh

Good use of our cash?

Sir,

The report on the Piers and Harbours Asset Management Plan and Fees and Charges – 2021/22, submitted to the Argyll and Bute Council Harbour Board meeting of December 3, 2020 makes interesting reading.

At a time when budgets are tight and councils have had to make hard decisions about where to cut services, it is difficult to understand why the council budget should be used to supplement the funding of dedicated ferry infrastructure for which CMAL should be responsible.

The asset management plan allocates £10,335,000 for planned marine infrastructure works for the year 2021/22, of which only £1, 255,000 is devoted to multi-use facilities. The remainder, £9,080,000, is mostly allocated to single-use ferry facilities, and a huge proportion of that is to provide overnight parking for CalMac ferries (to the exclusion of all other vessels); readers will have to make up their own minds about the merits of spending £4,050,000 for an overnight berth at Fionnphort, and £100,000 on a feasibility study for a breakwater at Lismore.

CMAL pay back around half of the £9,080,000 to the council through harbour dues for the use of council-owned piers, however, that still leaves a whopping £4 million gap in the required funding.

If past experience of other CMAL projects is anything to go by, the planned eight per cent increase in council harbour fees and charges up to 2028/29 is not going to cover it.

Fergus Gillanders, Kilmelford

Save stamps for the vision impaired

Sir,

Last year, 2020, was challenging and, although many people like to give generously to charity at Christmas time, it may have been difficult to make a donation this festive season.

It’s not too late – you can still help support the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) by collecting and donating used stamps from cards and parcels you may have received.

Your stamps will be recycled and turned into vital funds that will help RNIB support children with vision impairment. By donating your stamps, you can help to make good things happen for these children, like ensuring they receive a letter from Santa in a format they can read in future.

To get involved and receive a pre-paid envelope for your stamps, visit www.rnib.org.uk/stamps or call 0303 123 9999.

After this, all you need to do is send your stamps using RNIB’s freepost envelopes, and they’ll take care of the rest. It really is that simple!

Show your support for RNIB this festive season by collecting stamps and help to make life better for blind and partially-sighted people.

Thank you.

Vanessa Feltz, broadcaster and television personality

Festive support for British Heart Foundation

Sir,

For many people, Christmas is usually a time for catching up with friends, raising a glass and embracing loved ones. But this Christmas would have been very different for most families across the UK, including those sadly affected by heart and circulatory diseases.

There are around 720,000 people in Scotland living with heart and circulatory diseases, including coronary heart disease, stroke and vascular dementia. We know from the millions of people who have turned to us for support in 2020 that so many people with heart and circulatory diseases are worried about their greater risk from Covid-19 and that many have been shielding.

With your support, we’ve worked tirelessly to be there for people – extending our Heart Helpline’s opening hours, providing valuable Covid-19 information and continuing to fund research with the promise of improved treatments. Even over Christmas our Heart Helpline was open for those who needed us most.

But we need your support now more than ever to continue this vital work. The closure of our shops and cancellation of fundraising events has had a devastating impact on our funds, putting life-saving discoveries in peril. We expect our income for 2020 to be cut in half.

Traditionally, Christmas is a time for giving and generosity. Whilst some Christmas traditions may have changed in 2020, we hope this one hasn’t – your support will help us to continue to fund research and support millions of people with heart and circulatory diseases at a time when they really need us.

Thank you for your support.

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, chief executive, British Heart Foundation