Letters to the editor – June 4, 2021

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Accelerating ferry improvements

Sir,

The Clyde and Hebrides Ferries Community Board had a positive initial meeting with the new transport minister Graeme Dey MSP.

The minister confirmed that the position the island communities found themselves in through a lack of resilience in the fleet had to be addressed.

He understands the frustration and anger that exists across the network, and he has committed to doing all he can to improve the immediate situation and work with stakeholders to plan a more resilient and sustainable service going forward.

It was confirmed that proposals to hire in additional tonnage is at an advanced stage and other proposals for short- to medium-term improvements would be considered.

The minister also recognised the important part the communities’ voice can play in future planning and the benefit an inclusive approach can bring to future developments.

The minister also wishes to have a good working relationship with the Ferries Community Board and the island communities they serve.

Our board looks forward to working effectively with the minister and other stakeholders to ensure that the unacceptable level of damage to the social and economic fabric of our islands across the network will not be repeated.

The board also had separate sessions with senior Transport Scotland officials, the chief executive of CMAL and the managing director of CalMac.

Options were discussed around the condition and age of the fleet and particularly around what short term alternative usage options there were.

Are there other ways of working or modifying restrictions to immediately gain more capacity; and can we understand what prohibits more flexible solutions?

Questions were asked around the dry docking as to whether all essential repairs were
done and if better investment in time and resource in dry docking would prevent future breakdowns.

There was general agreement this would be a positive move, though recognising that longer dry docking periods would mean longer periods of vessels being unavailable unless we brought spare tonnage into the fleet.

The urgent efforts to obtain some new tonnage was welcomed.

The board also emphasised the need for a clear programme of investment from the finance identified in the last budget.

We were clear that communities’ voices must be heard in the formulation of the programme.

Best value for money has to be achieved and consideration given if all the needs of the service will be met within these resources in an acceptable timeframe.

The board emphasised to all parties the disastrous consequences of the present situation on communities, individuals and businesses and offered to work constructively to accelerate improvements that will meet the needs of our communities.

Our board will follow up on the main points raised with the appropriate bodies and look forward to further meetings with the minister.

Angus Campbell, chair, Ferries Community Board (Clyde and Hebrides)

Nominate a lottery hero

Sir,

The 2021 National Lottery Awards are now open for entries.

Once again, the annual search for the UK’s favourite National Lottery-funded people and projects will recognise those individuals and organisations who have made an extraordinary impact in their community – especially during these unprecedent times.

National Lottery players raise £30 million every week for good causes and we know this money is being used in amazing and inspiring ways.

As part of The National Lottery Awards we want to celebrate those whose selfless dedication and fantastic work makes such a difference in villages, towns and cities across the country.

Encompassing all areas of National Lottery funding, you nominate local legends and hometown heroes in the categories of culture; arts and film; community/charity; heritage; and sport. In addition, there will be a young hero award for someone under the age of 18.

Furthermore, groups or organisations are eligible to enter the National Lottery Project of the Year category, where shortlisted finalists will face a public vote later in the year.

All award winners will receive an iconic National Lottery Awards trophy and £3,000 for their organisation.

Nominations can be made by completing an entry form on our website www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards.

All nominees must have been funded by the National Lottery or be associated with a National Lottery funded project. Entries must be received by midnight on June 7.

Jonathan Tuchner, National Lottery Awards, Glasgow

Irresponsible littering should not be tolerated

Sir,

I have been contacted by many of my constituents from across Islay about the ongoing littering problem at Donald Caskie Square in Bowmore.

Unfortunately this matter has been dragging on for months now and I have discussed this at length with Islay Community Council, council colleagues, businesses and the head teacher of Islay High School.

It’s clear to me that patience is running out and that something needs to be done.

If police had a presence in the square, particularly over the lunch time period, this would help to prevent a lot of the littering that has been taking place.

I have also been getting complaints about Morrison Court in Bowmore.

It goes without saying that this is a minority of people who are not bothering to use the nearby bins, but sadly this is something that affects everyone.

A litter-strewn location looks dirty and unsightly, making it a less pleasant environment for those who live in or use it.

This irresponsible behaviour should not be tolerated.

Councillor Alastair Redman, Kintyre and the Islands