Letters to the editor – December 31, 2021

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Gifting cash to big business

Sir,

Just before Christmas I was intrigued to find a large cardboard box at my home, which turned out to contain a present of a gift box, plus a lot of air and wood shavings.

The logistics chain in its delivery involved being taken from factories in Harlesden and Lanark to Swindon distribution hub, where the gift box had obviously been made up.

It was then forwarded by lorry to Linwood, then on to Lochgilphead, onward to Tarbert east before finally being delivered by car to my home in Tarbert west end.

The food products in the gift box, while welcome, could have been purchased locally and made to look festive.

It must have cost a fair bit of money, as the big company which makes up these boxes is famous for conjuring money out of thin air.

But it’s not about money. My point is that we shouldn’t sub-contract our giving to big corporations.

It’s much better to know exactly what we’re giving as presents and buy locally.

D I MacDougall, Tarbert

CalMac’s ‘floating antiques’

Sir,

Sympathetic words from CalMac management and central government about the recent spate of ongoing disruptions to our ferry service will do very little to alleviate justifiable local concerns.

Our hard-working front line CalMac workers certainly do all that they can to keep our lifeline service going but they can only work with the tools they have.

The fact remains that many of the vessels that serve our islands are becoming floating antiques rather than fit-for-purpose ferries.

I will continue to work with community councils to keep up the pressure on CalMac and central government to improve our ferry service.

Councillor Alastair Redman, Kintyre and the Islands ward 

Brexit economic madness

Sir,

As we mark the end of the first year of new trade terms between the UK and EU, the predicted negative impacts of Brexit on the economy and on living standards are becoming clearer.

According to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), it has been estimated that the UK economy will be roughly four per cent worse off that it would have been had the 2016 EU referendum gone the other way.

As of October, the latest month for which data is available, UK imports and exports were 15.7 per cent below the level that could have been expected had the UK not left the EU’s customs union and single market in January.

In parallel with this, the ending of freedom of labour has led to much-publicised shortages of lorry drivers, farm labours and abattoir workers.

Reinforced with the impacts of Covid-19, this has seen UK growth lag behind the US and the eurozone.

Gross domestic product in the UK was 3.9 per cent higher in the third quarter of 2021 than in the second quarter of 2016. Over the same period the eurozone produced 6.2 per cent growth and the US 10.6 per cent.

Brexit has had a devastating impact on the UK economy, which has to an extent been masked by Covid-19.

As the pandemic recedes, these impacts will become obvious for all to see and the economic madness that is Brexit fully exposed.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh

Walk with your best friend

Sir,

It may be cold outside, but dog-owners are being encouraged to kick-start the new year by getting themselves and their four-legged friends back in shape and shedding some weight.

January marks Walk Your Dog Month, where keeping our pets fit and healthy should be front of mind.

We are calling on all dog lovers to make a positive impact on the health of their furry friend and feel the benefits themselves. And according to a major study from the Royal Veterinary College (RNC), it’s not just humans who may have piled on the pounds during the last 21 months of working from home.

The RVC research revealed that more than seven per cent of the UK’s dogs were recorded by vets as being overweight. While a few pounds may not necessarily harm a pooch, pet obesity is a serious problem leading to shortened lifespans.

Much like in humans, pet obesity can cause arthritis, breathing problems, heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. And some breeds, including pugs, beagles, golden retrievers and spaniels, are particularly at risk of ending up overweight, as are neutered and middle-aged dogs between six and nine years old.

There is no simple answer. It depends on several factors, such as age, breed, and general pet health. A good rule of thumb is to walk the dog three times a day, and most should be able to walk for 20-30 minutes at a time. However, high-energy dog breeds may need as much as two hours when they’re out for walkies.

Most of us could benefit from a bit of exercise at the turn of the year and what better way to get moving than by taking our best friends along with us?

Walk Your Dog month is an initiative that all dog owners can get behind. Getting out in the fresh air can do us the world of good, whether we have two legs or four.

To coincide with Walk Your Dog month, petGuard has created a dog walking guide, with some recommendations for pet owners and suggestions for the UK’s finest dog walks.

Alex Bennett, head of marketing, petGuard insurance