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Public health disaster
Sir,
The people of Arran (all of them) are angry and justifiably so. I applaud Chris Traill’s letter in the Arran Banner last week and subsequent letter from Neil Arthur, together with the editorial contribution and Hugh Boag’s headline article.
As some may hope, this is a subject which is not going to go away, but the suggestion that we think very carefully before putting our cross on the ballot papers on May 4 is very relevant.
This prompts me to suggest that our local community council or the Arran Banner should be placing a demand on North Ayrshire Council under the Freedom of Information Act, for publication (before May 4) of a list of the names of those councillors who can be shown to have supported the closure decision, on any occasion, when the issue of toilets closure was subject to a vote. You can bet that none of them was representing Arran. It is particularly galling now to discover that those facilities in Ardrossan and Saltcoats are to be kept open, at the behest of one well-
intentioned councillor. His reason? ‘Large areas with no alternative.’
Surely the same applies to some parts of Arran. Des­pite what he may say, it is discrimination at its most obvious, supported by the fact that there are, obviously more Ayrshire mainland votes at any council meeting than votes representing the interests of Arran.
Closure of these facilities is like a callous, ill-considered act of vandalism. Public toilets have been sparse enough on Arran, so closure of the remaining few should be considered as a social, environmental and, in particular, a public health disaster. I ask: how would the councillors and staff cope if all the toilet facilities in the Irvine headquarters building were closed and there were no nearby alternatives?
Which brings up the wider issue. If there is no-one with the will or power to force a last-minute stay on these closures, then surely it is about time that an urgent bill was introduced before our Holyrood government to stop carping about Brexit and indyref and at last bring forward some useful legislation to compel local authorities to do the proper thing, to help make this a decent civilised society, instead of a primitive, third world, outback jungle.
Environmental protection regulations state that all local authorities and housing associations, among others, do have a duty of care, in respect of offensive waste.
So who will set the ball rolling? Are our local MSPs up for the job?
Yours (in anger and on behalf of many others),
Wren Gentleman,Lochranza.

Nothing changes
Sir,
I write regarding Neil Arthur’s letter in last week’s edition of the Banner where he cites one reason for the Lochranza toilets shutdown is due to non-suitability for being made disabled friendly. This is a wrong attitude and singles out disabled persons for inconveniencing of the rest of the general public and sets them as demons helping to close the toilets.
My wife, who is severely mobility impaired, and I, as her sole carer, feel insulted by this statement. Our attitude is to accept what is available. Of course it is nice to have the privacy and ease of access of dedicated disabled toilets but we get by if none is available. As a man going into ladies toilets, I find it difficult but we have never met dissent from ladies and on my part I ensure I keep talking to alert any lady users that a man is present, so preventing any embarrassment on both sides.
Regarding the toilets, Lochranza’s, to my knowledge, are the same as they were some 75 years ago when I started school from Colie Mhore. Brodick much the same, when we moved to Glensherraig a few years later. Now the question I ask from Arran movers and shakers is why over some 75 years has nothing been done to upgrade the toilets? RET did not start the tourist population – it only made it bigger – so just maybe Arran folk are hoist by their own petards.
I will make the point. I left Arran in 1956 and only return on holiday when I have used the toilets in question and my thoughts were always why has nothing been done to improve them. This is my take on the toilets situation: over the years they were ignored by Arran residents and now, when the chips are down, everyone is up in arms. While able people jump the hedge or ditch, disabled people just can’t risk a return visit.
Either way, Arran loses.
Yours,
Roderick C McKay
Moray

Stolen budget
Sir,
The issue of public toilet provision on the island, and indeed elsewhere in North Ayrshire, is a very serious one and the Banner front page story last week reflects that well. On your letters page, Neil Arthur makes more good points and rightly condemns local politicians for their inaction on the matter: it is certainly true that both Labour and SNP council administrations over the past year have supported this cut in the vain hope that community groups would come forward and do their work for them.
The truth is that NAC has had, as its finance director pointed out in a recent Banner statement, £73m of budget allocation stolen (she didn’t use that word, but I am) as a result of austerity policies determined by successive Tory Westminster governments. Councillors should be vociferously demanding this money back and campaigning for its return at national level as well as within the communities they represent. Instead, that £73m has disappeared down a hole – repaying bankers and funding expensive and unnecessary projects such as Trident missile replacement.
Where Neil and I part company is in his deliberately provocative assertion, on the back of decisions around the ferry port issue, that NAC is only concerned with mainland communities. Neil clearly knows nothing about the deprivation that is very real in some of Arran’s neighbouring communities, including large areas of the three towns. By comparison, Arran enjoys full employment, a prosperous economy and a very pleasant environment in which to live. Yes, there is a problem with low wages, and yes there are still urgent issues around housing, but they will not be solved by deepening deprivation elsewhere.
Yours,
Colin Turbett
Scottish Socialist Party Candidate, Ardrossan and Arran
Shiskine

Arran thanks
Sir,
I am writing to thank everyone on Arran who supported my granddaughter Carina Haouchine in the making of her film ‘Runnin Blue’. A total of 16 students from the Royal Conservatoire stayed at Hillcrest in Whiting Bay for a week. Thanks to the Arran Mountain Rescue Team and Andy McNamara at the Arran Outdoor Centre for their advice. The Forestry Commission for access to the forestry roads. The Arran Medical Centre for looking after one of the group who had a chest infection. The Bay Stores in Whiting Bay for being so supportive and friendly. Special thanks to Laura Aitcheson and the RunArran group and the runners who braved Glenrosa. Nicky McLelland for welcoming the crew into her cottage at High Corrie for the heat and Arran hospitality. Lastly the intrepid reporter from the Arran Banner for his article. We look forward to seeing the film and hope it will be shown on Arran.
Yours,
Sheilagh Douglas
Whiting Bay

Rail links
Sir,
I visited Arran earlier this year after a gap of almost half a century. I was delighted to see the island again helped greatly by an easy sea crossing.
Access by rail to the ferry terminal was easy, but wider access needs to be improved. There have been calls for a Glasgow Crossrail scheme connecting north and south sided of the Clyde via the St.Enoch’s Bridge. This would permit the already burgeoning rail routes from Ayr-Glasgow and Glasgow-Edinburgh to be connected as through routes. Various other through routes are possible such as Ardrossan Harbour or Largs-Edinburgh via Bathgate, giving a much wider catchment area to the ferries and therefore Arran. This idea deserves close scrutiny.
Yours,
Graham Lund
Girvan

Missing bunnies
Sir,
It was the perfect weekend to open our caravan at Sandbraes for the new season. But despite a couple of sightings, the resident rabbit population were nowhere to be seen.
Lots of recent evidence of their somewhat annoying diggings, but of the bunnies themselves there was almost no sign at all.
Yours,
Ian and Jenny Price
Bradford

Views ignored
Sir,
The Forestry Commission ( FC ) held a drop in meeting at Machrie Hall last week and greatly disappointed most who attended.
In advance of this meeting Dr David Price of Machrie prepared and presented a paper to the FC in which he addressed the six points that the FC have set out justifying their proposal. In answer to each point Dr Price strongly questioned the FC approach but the FC representative at the meeting would not engage on these valid points.
To propose a log yard on the landward side of the coastal road means  that to load a 750 ton vessel per week means a minimum of 150 transporter trips across the road each way – in a 10 hour load period suggests a crossing every 2 minutes! This is simply not feasible without effectively closing the coastal road to traffic.
At an early stage of this proposal being put on the table, it was suggested that to bring log trucks (up to a max of 44 tons) along the Machrie Moor road a minimum of 13 passing places would need to be built  at a suggested cost of £ 1.2 million. But the FC representative at the meeting,  was not even aware of this matter and was therefore  unable to discuss where these passing places would be, suggesting at best a lack  of joined up management in the FC.
At the meeting we were advised that this proposal was not a ‘done deal’, that there was no budget set and no planning application has been submitted .  And yet, in this past week, in fact on the day of the meeting,  work has gone ahead creating a new and extensive entrance to the forest on the Machrie Moor road at a significant cost.
The views of the Machrie community are being ignored and this flies in  the face of the FC web site which states ‘that they  are required to take particular consideration of remote and rural communities’.
My principle concern is where is our community council in this matter and, just maybe, are they in support of Machrie or are they more influenced by five trucks daily using the String Road?
Yours,
Douglas Johnston
Machrie
Decision needed
Sir,
For months now the issue of the Arran ferry service has dragged on and on. In my previous letters to The Banner I have outlined my position and thereafter justified it. But that is not what I want to do today.
Recently the STAG report highlighted that the most viable option in terms of keeping costs and journey times down was maintaining Ardrossan as the mainland port for the ferry instead of neighbouring Troon.
Transport minister Humza Yousaf even indicated this was his preferred option but still we have no decision on the matter. Recently in the Rural Economy committee in Holyrood he told me it could still be ‘weeks and weeks’ before a decision is made.
In a letter he sent me this week he told me that he needs further representation from the ports and council before any decision is to be made on the matter. The uncertainty that this causes is extremely damaging to businesses and families on both sides of the shores. Many people rely on jobs or need the swift travel between this island community and the mainland.
What should have been a relatively easy decision is now looking like it could take seven or eight months to resolve, perhaps even longer. It’s absolutely vital that Mr Yousaf lets people know his intention before this May’s local election campaign so that people can properly pass judgement on the direction that the Scottish Government takes.
If we are serious about bringing in investment into the Isle of Arran then basic elements such as mainland transportation need to be established, otherwise we’ll deter growth and investment away from our shores. That means less jobs and a higher cost of living.
So once again I call on the Scottish government to be clear: what is the future of our ferry service?
Yours,
Jamie Greene,
West of Scotland Conservative MSP
Arran thanks
Sir,
I am writing to thank everyone on Arran who supported my granddaughter Carina Haouchine in the making of her film Runnin Blue.
A total of 16 students from the Royal Conservatoire stayed at Hillcrest in Whiting Bay for a week. Thanks to the Arran Mountain Rescue Team and Andy McNamara at the Arran Outdoor Centre for their advice.
The Forestry Commission for access to the forestry roads. The Arran Medical Centre for looking after one of the group who had a chest infection. The Bay Stores in Whiting Bay for being so supportive and friendly.
Special thanks to Laura Aitcheson and the RunArran group and the runners who braved Glenrosa. Nicky McLelland for welcoming the crew into her cottage at High Corrie for the heat and Arran hospitality.
Lastly, the intrepid reporter from the Arran Banner for his article. We look forward to seeing the film and hope it will be shown on Arran.
Yours,
Sheilagh Douglas,
Whiting Bay.

Rail links
Sir,
I visited Arran earlier this year after a gap of almost half a century. I was delighted to see the island again helped greatly by an easy sea crossing.
Access by rail to the ferry terminal was easy, but wider access needs to be improved. There have been calls for a Glasgow Crossrail scheme connecting north and south sided of the Clyde via the St Enoch’s Bridge.
This would permit the already burgeoning rail routes from Ayr-Glasgow and Glasgow-Edinburgh to be connected as through routes.
Various other through routes are possible such as Ardrossan Harbour or Largs-Edinburgh via Bathgate, giving a much wider catchment area to the ferries and therefore Arran. This idea deserves close scrutiny.
Yours,
Graham Lund,
Girvan.

Missing bunnies
Sir,
It was the perfect weekend to open our caravan at Sandbraes for the new season. But despite a couple of sightings, the resident rabbit population were nowhere to be seen.
Lots of recent evidence of their somewhat annoying diggings, but of the bunnies themselves there was almost no sign at all.
Yours,
Ian and Jenny Price,
Bradford.

Views ignored
Sir,
The Forestry Commission (FC) held a drop-in meeting at Machrie Hall last week and greatly disappointed most who attended.
In advance of this meeting, Dr David Price of Machrie prepared and presented a paper to the FC in which he addressed the six points that the FC has set out justifying its proposal. In answer to each point, Dr Price strongly questioned the FC approach but the FC representative at the meeting would not engage on these valid points.
To propose a log yard on the landward side of the coastal road means that to load a 750-ton vessel per week means a minimum of 150 transporter trips across the road each way – in a 10-hour load period suggests a crossing every two minutes. This is simply not feasible without effectively closing the coastal road to traffic.
At an early stage of this proposal being put on the table, it was suggested that to bring log trucks (up to a max of 44 tons) along the Machrie Moor road, a minimum of 13 passing places would need to be built  at a suggested cost of £ 1.2 million.
But the FC representative at the meeting was not even aware of this and was therefore  unable to discuss where these passing places would be, suggesting at best a lack of joined-up management in the FC.
At the meeting we were advised that this proposal was not a ‘done deal’, that there was no budget set and no planning application has been submitted. And yet, in this past week, in fact on the day of the meeting, work has gone ahead creating a new and extensive entrance to the forest on the Machrie Moor road at a significant cost.
The views of the Machrie community are being ignored and this flies in  the face of the FC website which states that it is ‘required to take particular consideration of remote and rural communities’.
My principal concern is where is our community
council in this matter and, just maybe, is it in support of Machrie or is it more influenced by five trucks daily using the String Road?
Yours,
Douglas Johnston,
Machrie.

Decision needed
Sir,
For months now the issue of the Arran ferry service has dragged on and on. In my previous letters to the Banner I have outlined my position and thereafter justified it. But that is not what I want to do today.
Recently the STAG report highlighted that the most viable option in terms of keeping costs and journey times down was maintaining Ardrossan as the mainland port for the ferry
instead of neighbouring Troon.
Transport minister Humza Yousaf even indicated this was his preferred option but still we have no decision on the matter. Recently in the rural economy
committee at Holyrood he told me it could still be ‘weeks and weeks’ before a decision is made.
In a letter he sent me this week he told me that he needs further representation from the ports and council before any decision is to be made on the matter. The uncertainty that this causes is extremely damaging to businesses and families on both sides of the shores. Many people rely on jobs or need the swift travel between this island community and the mainland.
What should have been a relatively easy decision is now looking like it could take seven or eight months to resolve, perhaps even longer.
It’s absolutely vital that Mr Yousaf lets people know his intention before this May’s local election campaign so that people can properly pass judgement on the direction that the Scottish Government takes.
If we are serious about bringing investment into the Isle of Arran, then basic elements such as mainland transportation need to be established, otherwise we’ll deter growth and investment away from our shores. That means fewer jobs and a higher cost of living.
So once again I call on the Scottish Government to be clear: what is the future of our ferry service?
Yours,
Jamie Greene,
West of Scotland
Conservative
MSP.

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