Letters to the editor – May 13, 2022

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Church closures

Sir,

Regarding the article about the possible closure of churches in Islay, this is happening all over Scotland.

I understand that there are financial reasons, etc, for some of the decisions the Church of Scotland has to make, including not enough people coming forward to enter the ministry. However, breaking up fellowships which have existed for generations and closing churches, especially in rural areas, seems to me to be such a backward step.

Our own parish of Coll, Connel and Dunbeg linked with Ardchattan is uncertain at the moment as to what the future holds. Where is the vision for mission and fellowship in those decisions?

As regards the financial situation, perhaps the Church of Scotland should consider selling off some of their assets, including a very expensive head office in George St, Edinburgh
Irene Harvey, Castle Road, Dunbeg.

Gratitude for votes

Sir,

I would like to give my thanks to everyone who voted for me in the recent local elections.

Also thanks to those who helped me out with my campaign and those who contributed to my crowdfunder. Although I was not successful in getting re-elected as an independent candidate, the result could not have been any closer.

With your continued support, I am confident of success when I run again in five years time.

I would like to congratulate all of the councillors who won across Argyll and Bute, and give my commiserations to those who were not successful this time.

Representing the Kintyre and Islands ward has been an honour and a privilege, and I will continue to remain active in local politics going forward.
Alastair Redman, Port Charlotte, Islay.

Cost of living

Sir,

The cost of living is skyrocketing, and more people than ever now seek emergency food parcels. Pressure is mounting on the 2,000 UK foodbanks, with unprecedented demand.

But imagine a foodbank with 1,000 tins of baked beans but no toilet rolls! Often food banks are inundated with one item but have very little of another and asking donors for specific items is challenging – the situation has usually changed by the time the message has spread.

To help change this, BanktheFood is a new charity set up to help foodbanks get what they need, exactly when they need it.

Readers can help make a difference by downloading the BanktheFood charity app and following their nearest food bank. The app will then ping their phone a real-time list of urgently needed items when they are at the supermarket, making it easy to add an item or two to their shopping and leave it at the drop-off point when they have finished.

The app is free to download and use, and all foodbanks can register. It’s a simple way to make a huge difference.
Emma Spring, cofounder and volunteer at BanktheFood

Improve pay

Sir

We at the Unite trade union are calling on all new council leaders at Scottish local authorities to take immediate action to improve pay, or see strikes this summer by social carers, cleansing and school workers.

Unite is in the process of targeting selected groups of workers employed in all 32 Scottish authorities with a view to balloting its members in schools, home care and cleansing as early as June.

In March, Unite along with other local government trade unions rejected outright a two per cent pay offer from COSLA as falling far short of both the trade union claim and the current rate of inflation, which reflects the true cost of living including spiralling food and energy costs, it stands at a 30-year high of nine per cent.

It is estimated that more than half of Scotland’s 250,000 local authority workers are earning less than £25,000 a year for a 37-hour week.

It’s a sorry indictment of both COSLA and the Scottish Government that our members are preparing to vote on strike action, but from the Shetland Islands to the Borders, Unite’s members have their union’s full backing in their fight for decent pay.
Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary

Broadband rights

Sir,

I would like to tell you about a campaign which aims to increase awareness of the Universal Service Obligation for Broadband (USO) amongst consumers and pressure the Government to increase its efforts to improve broadband services to the most digitally deprived.

Unfortunately, while giving consumers the right to demand decent broadband, the USO regularly fails to help those in more remote and rural areas. The current scheme only provides maximum per property funding of £3,400 towards the cost of building or upgrading any necessary network infrastructure. This means that those whose properties are harder to access are expected to fork out their own money to cover any excess involved in providing them with an improved connection – and those additional costs all too frequently run into the many tens of thousands of pounds.

With over 600,000 premises in the UK still unable to access decent broadband via a fixed line, National Broadband is calling for the government to increase its support for alternative broadband solutions that can provide immediately improved broadband to those who are most digitally deprived in the UK and at a fraction of the cost of fibre.

There are still far too many people in homes across the country that are being left behind due a lack of access to decent broadband. The government frequently talks a good game about levelling up and closing the digital divide, but too often fails to deliver.

The current USO is a perfect case in point, as it all too frequently gives hope of an improved service to those suffering from shockingly slow broadband speeds and most in need hope of an improved service – but then leaves them facing astronomical costs to actually get better connectivity. We of course appreciate that in some locations installing fibre is unavoidably costly, but if the Government continues to ignore viable alternatives, then those most in need of improved broadband will carry on suffering.
David Hennell, business development director at National Broadband.