Letters to the editor – January 29, 2021

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Delivery charges ‘rip-off’

Sir,

I write with reference to a story in the January 15 edition of the Argyllshire Advertiser under the headline ‘Extortionate charges add to Christmas cost’.

Charges by various carriers are now becoming nothing short of a rip-off for those of us living in rural areas of Scotland.

Our post code of PA is for Paisley area, and as such affects house and motor insurance, yet according to the carriers we are ‘remote’ Just this morning I ordered online a couple of items that were featherweight and would fit into a small box four inches by two inches by two inches. The cost of the items was £21.40, but postage £14.20!

How this can be justified is beyond my reckoning. I have purchased items online where the postage exceeds the cost of the item. There is little point in complaining, since no-one listens, certainly not the carriers.

It is my opinion that many retailers who are depending on online shopping are losing trade because of this ongoing problem, one that needs urgent attention.

Bryan Passey, Lochgilphead

Here to help those living with sight loss

Sir,

For everyone, 2020 was a difficult year.

The situation is particularly challenging for those living with sight loss. Many have faced anxiety, sadness and even fear about the unique challenges they have experienced – problems such as social distancing, difficulty shopping without guidance and isolation from losing tactile contact with friends and family during lockdown.

That’s why RNIB has launched emergency mental health sessions for blind and partially sighted people.

The sessions are completely free and offer people with sight loss the opportunity to speak to a counsellor for an hour over the phone, about however they are feeling and any problems that are on their mind. It doesn’t have to be about their sight at all.

If you, or someone you know, could benefit from speaking to someone, please call our Helpline on 0303 123 9999. We can set up a chat within 36 hours and the service can be used as many times as needed.

James Adams, director, Royal National Institute of Blind People Scotland, Edinburgh

 

An open letter, dated January 15, from Argyll and Bute Council leader Councillor Robin Currie to Alister Jack MP, Secretary of State for Scotland
Argyll and Bute’s Seafood Sector Sustainability

Dear Alister,

In the weeks since the UK left the European Union, I have been contacted by numerous Argyll and Bute residents and businesses who share my very deep concerns about the future sustainability and, indeed, the survival of our vital shellfish and fishing sector.

The seafood sector is a vital component of our already-fragile regional economy and is now hit by the inability, virtually overnight, for producers and processors to get their time-sensitive products to market or to customers.

If allowed to go unresolved, this sector is likely to disappear, badly affecting Argyll and Bute’s overall recovery and future growth.

Fish and shellfish from Argyll and Bute are high quality products of international renown.

The industry has been a mainstay and a major employer in the area for many decades, sustaining not only the local economy but making a significant contribution to the Scottish and UK economies.

I am now hearing from long-standing fishing families, newer start-up businesses and companies employing hundreds of people that, if urgent action is not taken, they will have to close their doors for good.

This would be devastating for Argyll and Bute, where the sector comprises many single-family operated vessels, smaller fleets and artisan producers as well as some medium to larger enterprises.

As a council we are doing all that we can to support these businesses and prevent this imminent disaster.

Our officers are working behind the scenes to assist and are in constant discussions with the Scottish Government to reiterate the critical need for the commercial hubs to operate smoothly, ensuring that the right processes are in place to help businesses get their goods to their customers.

We are also speaking to Argyll and Bute producers to help them navigate these new processes and to issue all the necessary paperwork where appropriate, so that these valuable products reach buyers.

Delays on both sides of the border have already seen valuable products being lost, together with valued customers who are seeking their produce elsewhere.

Very urgent action and assistance is needed now from your government in order to prevent this traditional Scottish industry sector from disappearing altogether.

Most urgently of all, getting products to market must be streamlined, simplified and speeded up.

These products need to be prioritised over products with longer shelf lives – if the situation is allowed to persist then very many companies will have no choice but to give up, costing jobs and much-needed revenue to the treasury.

In addition to improving processes and the speed of delivery here in the UK, these businesses, so vital to Argyll and Bute and Scotland’s economic recovery and future success, need your government to negotiate urgently with its counterparts in Europe to identify and resolve the delays in allowing fresh goods to arrive in and then to progress on to customers.

I cannot state strongly enough that these actions are needed now. More is required, though, in the medium and longer terms, to help this beleaguered industry to get afloat again and regain some buoyancy.

Producers and customers need reassurance that future supplies will be prioritised and to regain confidence in the industry through dedicated marketing and investment where possible through the £100m fisheries fund your government announced following the publication of the agreement.

Our seafood sector desperately needs Government to take action to secure its survival. Please do what you can, urgently, to avoid its demise.

Robin Currie, Argyll and Bute Council leader