Letters to the Editor 15.7.17

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Full consultation
I have read with interest the letters from Timothy Billings and Malcolm Kerr in last week’s Banner. I would like to address both.

The provision of public toilets on an island whose main source of income is tourism is very important for the reputation and therefore for the prosperity of the island.

It is patently obvious that North Ayrshire Council took the decision to withdraw funding purely for financial reasons. It seems to me that it was done in a peremptorily way without consulting local people and organisations, and almost as an afterthought they had this idea of handing over the responsibility to village improvement committees.

NAC should not have made any decisions about the public toilets without consulting fully with tourist organisations, village committees, and the businesses on Arran who depend on the tourist trade.

Though not particularly right wing, I fully support  Timothy Billings’ efforts to at least get the council to see some sense. Malcolm Kerr’s attitude seems to me to be at once patronising and confrontational, and I would urge him to be more conciliatory for the good of the island.
Dr John Cruickshank
Whiting Bay

Empowerment in action
I write with reference to the headline article in the Banner (July 8) about villages rallying to save the island’s toilets and in response to Councillor Billings’ letter regarding the same. I should like to make the following points.

Firstly, had Cllr Billings’ motion to temporarily re-open four of the closed toilets reached the discussion stage at the full council meeting held on Wednesday June 28, it would then have been revealed that the community asset fund from which he had hoped to secure funding is not yet operational or open for applications.

Secondly, despite the council being in recess, officers are still working closely with the community groups who have taken over running their village toilets and those groups which are in the early
stages of the asset transfer process.

I have offered assistance to the Lamlash residents wishing to form a group, been in discussion with and had a meeting with the Lochranza group, and helped my own village to form a group, of which I am a member. We are now working with council officers to get the Blackwaterfoot toilets open again.

Whilst I disagree with the decision to end provision of public toilets on Arran, or elsewhere, I recognise that these are challenging financial times and acknowledge that this decision was not taken lightly by the previous administration and is now upheld by the current Labour cabinet.

I believe that this situation represents an opportunity for Arran residents to take ownership and control of key community resources; we need to follow and celebrate the example of the Kilmory, Kildonan, Corrie and Sannox, Whiting Bay and Pirnmill communities which are already running their toilets.

Their hard work and commitment is an exemplary example of community empowerment in action.

I would encourage anybody who has an interest in this issue to join or volunteer with their local group and help to deliver public toilet provision which matches our aspirations to be a world class destination for tourists to visit and more importantly for residents to enjoy.

I hope that this clarifies matters and reassures your readers that I am working with and on behalf of Arran residents to secure the best outcomes for our island community.
SNP Councillor Ellen McMaster

I wish to highlight my concern that the public toilets on Arran have been closed to the public.

Last week I was with three grandchildren at the beach area at Brodick. The public toilets were closed. A notice advised us that the nearest toilet was at the library, approximately a five minute walk with a four-year-old, a five-year- old and an eight-year-old.

We walked to the library to find it was closed on a Wednesday and then proceeded back towards the town. By the time we got to the Fiddlers Bar the four-year-old had wet herself, causing her great distress.

The staff in the bar kindly allowed her to use their facilities. It was an upsetting and embarrassing episode for the family and necessitated the purchase of clean clothing for the child.

I have an ileostomy and have regular, short notice occasions, when I need access to facilities to change or empty the stoma bag. If this had been one of those occasions I would have been left with faecal soiling to my clothing.

It is utterly disgraceful that any family should be put in this position. We have been visiting Arran yearly since 1987. I would be anxious about returning.

I am sure you have had many such messages and, as this is just the start of the summer season, shall have many more.
I have sent a complaint to North Ayrshire Council and to The Scottish Parliament.

Additionally I have signed the petition started by the local community and have posted it on Facebook. This is an environmental health issue that just cannot be permitted.
Gail Robinson

No free lunch
There is no such thing as a free lunch – and equally there is no such thing as free prescriptions, free tuition fees nor free personal care for the elderly.

All of the above are paid for – not by the SNP’s prudent management as Malcolm Kerr states in his correspondence of July 8 – but by the taxpayer.
Mr Kerr also highlights the nine years of council tax freeze – but the benefits of that were dubious to say the least, given that they resulted in significant reduction in local services.

As I recall, the SNP had a manifesto commitment to abolish the council tax and replace it with a local income tax. Whatever became of that pledge?
Bobby Whitacre