Letters to the editor – April 2, 2021

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Isolated by unreliable A83

Sir,

Over the years my regular visits to St Catherines on Loch Fyne have often been adversely impacted by the unreliable A83 at the Rest and be Thankful, resulting in lengthy delays getting there or having to use the expensive Gourock to Hunter’s Quay ferry.

The recent announcement regarding the alternative route initially gave some hope of a permanent resolution. However, on further reading, this was yet another unsurprising disappointment. The preferred corridor through Glen Croe is still to be announced and there is still no timetable for completion.

Landslips at the Rest and be Thankful have frequently seen much of Argyll isolated from central Scotland, or journeys delayed by endless roadworks or convoys along the old military road. Most of these problems have occurred during the SNP’s 14 years in government and the continued failure to provide a permanent solution is yet more proof of how little the SNP cares about or understand the needs of people and businesses outside the central belt.

It was clear long ago that patchwork schemes were not a solution but, rather than provide a new corridor which would have resulted in major capital expenditure, tens of millions of pounds have instead been wasted on years of ineffective schemes which nature evades in next to no time.

In the meantime, the SNP has had no difficulty finding money to prop up central belt vanity projects like the Edinburgh trams.

Mike Russell, SNP MSP for Argyll and Bute, has been far more concerned with Indyref2 and Brexit than the day to day concerns of his constituents and has done nothing to ensure that providing a reliable road connection to Argyll is a top priority for Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Transport.

The Holyrood elections on May 6 are an ideal opportunity for the residents and business owners in Argyll, whose daily lives are affected by such an unreliable road, to voice their dissatisfaction and vote for anyone other than the SNP or the Greens who oppose any road building on principle.

A different government might not guarantee a speedy resolution, but after 14 years of failed sticking-plaster attempts to patch up the existing road, it certainly couldn’t be worse.

Donald McCallum, Strathaven.

Shoddy road signs

Sir,

Across the Kintyre and the Islands ward I continue to receive complaints about the rather shoddy condition of road signage.

In some cases the signs are faded and covered in dirt and in many other cases they are falling to pieces.

One example of this is the road signs above the footpath outside Port Ellen Primary School on Islay and sadly there are many other examples. In my opinion in the future Argyll and Bute Council must be more diligent in maintaining our signs.

Road signs help to regulate traffic, provide crucial visual guidance and give drivers important previews, especially during night-time conditions.

Councillor Alastair Redman

Tank trap roundabout

Sir,

I write further to correspondence on Lochgilphead’s expensive new pavements.

When they are finally finished, could somebody see if they have a bucket or two of tarry stones left over that could be chucked into the tank trap that passes for a roundabout, next to the Tesco garage?

David Hay, Minard

Citizens’ advice has new address

Sir,

I have immense pleasure in communicating to your readers our new address following our successful relocation of our main office premises.

Argyll and Bute Citizens Advice Bureau (ABCAB), 18 Argyll Street, Lochgilphead, PA31 8NE

Our email, website and telephone numbers remain the same as before.

Email: info@abcab.org.uk and phone 01546 605550.

We have had no break in service and continue to provide advice and support to clients across Argyll and Bute, with our advisers all working from home under current government guidance.

We are also available to provide advice to those who find themselves in a vulnerable position and require face-to-face advice by appointment in our Helensburgh and Lochgilphead offices.

We commence our second volunteer adviser training programme next month and look forward to welcoming our new trainees.

Jen Broadhurst, Bureau Manager, Argyll and Bute Citizens Advice Bureau

Reward NHS workers

Sir,

Following the Scottish Government’s pay offer of four per cent across the board for all NHS workers, Unite will ballot its members on the offer over the next few weeks.

Unite represents workers in every pay band across the entire NHS structure and recognises that while this offer will put money into the pockets of our members, any monthly pay uplift will vary considerably between individuals. For this reason Unite will be putting this offer to our members without recommendation.

The offer includes an opportunity to revisit any settlement including an intention by the Scottish Government to allocate additional funding through Barnett Consequentials. Unite will demand that any additional payment made to the Scottish Government by Westminster through this formula, is passed on to our members.

Workers across the NHS have been described as ‘heroic’ in what has been an exceptionally challenging year. Now is the time to reward those workers with the pay uplift they deserve, not just for their work during the Covid pandemic, but also for the pay cuts they have endured through years of austerity.

For Unite, other pay potential remains on the table in the form of additional Barnett Consequentials and we will pursue any additional pay that is intended for our members through further negotiation with any future Scottish Government.

James O’Connell, Unite regional officer for Scotland.

Fancy a simpler life?

Sir,

I work for a TV company called Five Mile Films and we are making a new documentary series this year for Channel 4.

We are looking for people to apply to take part who are wanting to live a simpler life. The filming will take place over a number of months this year in rural Britain.

The idea behind the series is about saying goodbye to smartphones, Zoom calls, social media – all the distractions and pressures of normal life – to go and live a simpler life, experience the ‘good life’ fantasy and think about what our modern life and its multitude of choices has really given us. We will explore the idea of whether, in fact, less is more.

We are looking for people of all ages to apply; families, couples, single people – to take time out from their normal life and step into a different way of living.

If any of your readers are interested in finding out more, they should email simplelife@fivemilefilms.co.uk, telling us briefly why you would like to live a simpler life.

Kathryn Burke, casting producer, Five Mile Films, Bristol.