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My wife and I recently visited Arran on holiday. This was our first visit for two years, though we have spent many, many happy days on holiday around your island over the last 15 years. It is always a nice place to visit.
On one of our days we decided to spend our time doing a trip around the island on the coast road, visiting Lochranza, Corrie Bay, Blackwaterfoot and Lagg. We were dismayed at the state of the roads in a number of locations, particularly on the west coast. Indeed in some places we found it a little unnerving, mainly because of the rather deep ditches immediately at the roadside which caused us to stop or slow down on a number of occasions in order to allow oncoming traffic to pass. Pulling over to the extreme nearside was not an option because of the possibility of driving into one of these ditches.
We hope the Arran authorities can spend a little on improving your roads as their current state could put tourists off from visiting again. We would also suggest ensuring that white lines at T-junctions, in the middle of the road and at other places, are kept pristine and not allowed to slowly fade away, which was also apparent during our visit.
As an Arran resident who is over that certain age, I am a bit unhappy about booking a car and passenger reservation online when concessions apply.
As I understand it, I cannot book a car using the online service unless there is at least one person in it. No person is not an option, so I have to pay the full passenger fare. If I phone, which CalMac is trying to discourage, I can book the car and tell the lovely lady that I will get my concession ticket at Brodick.
The simple answer to the problem would be if on the website one could book a vehicle on without having to book a passenger. Rather odd, I agree, but it would work. A vehicle cannot turn up at Brodick without a driver and if one can book car only on the phone surely one should be allowed to do it online.
Buying concession tickets online is the next step but may be too much for CalMac IT at the moment, but it surely is not impossible. I can see the problems- minor fraud etc but come on, get thinking.
I have this evening read my Arran Banner and read the contributed article on my talk to the Historical Society on Cunard and the QE2 and there are a few corrections required.
The photograph shown is the Queen Mary 2 and not the QE2
Captain William Warwick was the captain on her maiden voyage and his son Ronald Warwick did not become captain until July 1990 when the QE2 sailed from Le Harve.
The article refers to Captain Robert Warwick when it should be Captain Ronald Warwick.
Attached is a photograph of the QE2 that I took on her last visit to the Clyde.
R Allan Richardson
I am writing to let you know about my experience in the hope of saving a few people on the island from being defrauded.
Recently I took my car to the mainland to have some major work done and arranged to collect it last week. Of course I had to make arrangements to pay for the work – a not insignificant amount – and received a summary of the work done together with an invoice by e-mail for payment plus bank details so I could make a bank transfer. That arrived at 2.20pm on a Wednesday. I didn’t open the e-mail until after 5 o’clock, and actually paid the bill at 5.20pm. That was fine.
Just before seven I received a further email from Barry at the garage explaining that a bounced cheque transaction had somehow frozen their bank account and could I make the payment to a different bank account – details attached. But I had already paid! So I rang my bank and asked about this, only to be told that were there something of that nature amiss then the money would bounce back. It had not.
What to do? Should I ask for the sum to be clawed back, or should I just hope that it had all gone through correctly before the glitch on the receiving bank.
Then I further considered the second e-mail – it had been sent and hour and 52 minutes after the garage office normally closes for business – funny. It had come from Barry at the garage – but I was suspicious – so I rang my bank back and asked to speak to the cyber fraud section. A few questions and then I was told that the attempt fraud – were it an attempt fraud – was not really for the bank to investigate as it had been directed at me rather than at the bank, therefore the bank could not deal with it. They gave me a lead to an outfit called Action Fraud and again confirmed that the money I had already paid had not bounced back. I decided to leave things as they were and check with the garage next morning to ensure that they had indeed received the money into their account – which they had. Phew!!
Anyway, I took all the dodgy details with me to the garage when I collected my car and discovered that I was not the first person who had been targeted in this way. There had been one other one which they had considered to be a one off – no longer!
I got the car back to the island and there waiting for me on the computer were another two emails from ‘Barry’ telling me to pay the bill into this new account. And then I got another one! And finally a fifth.
I decided to let the police know what had happened to me so rang that ‘ever so useful number’ 101. I spoke to a very pleasant person, explained what had happened only to be told that I should contact Action Fraud as clearly no crime had been committed. What?!
Someone is blatantly and persistently trying to steal several thousand pounds from me and there is no crime? So does that mean that as the crime statistics need further massaging, that ‘going equipped’ and attempt murder are now to be downgraded to ‘not a crime’ as the crime does not occur until it has actually been committed? ‘No’, she said, ‘it’s not like that’ It’s just that in this case as no money had been fraudulently taken, then no crime had occurred. We should all be aware of this change in interpretation! But that is what I have been told and it was reiterated when I queried it. No crime in this context is committed until it is successful!
So, what can you and I do to avoid this type of fraud?
Well, when you expect a bill of this nature, wait until it arrives, then ring the invoicing company and talk to someone you know. Check that they have sent the bill, check that the bank details on the invoice are correct and only when you are satisfied should you pay it. No it is not convenient, but then it is your money and if you are defrauded that is not convenient either and you still need to pay the bill.
I hope you can learn by my experience and avoid getting caught. I was lucky and could have paid the bill to the wrong account had the first fraudulent e-mail arrived early enough to be plausible.
Making a stance
The history of this industrialised farming of the sea started as small units run by local businesses. Gradually competition and overproduction resulted in buy-outs by larger companies so that today the industry is run by multinationals. It is a similar story to chickens, egg production and other intensive food sectors, which are running into trouble meeting food and safety standards.
We all know of the spread of disease. The more crowded the environment, be they chickens, salmon or pigs, the more likely they are to exhibit a catalogue of disease, waterborne or airborne. Crowded conditions encourage both the populations of disease organisms and transmissivity of diseases. Think of Glasgow and TB in the early 20th century, chickenpox epidemics in primary schools, malaria and standing water etc. But often the control of vectors or invasive organisms by chemical spraying or by in-feed chemicals gives rise to serious knock-on events.
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson showed the downside of insecticides DDT and dieldrln because they contaminated the environment, affecting birds that ate the insects, the target of the chemicals, and raptors, which ate the songbirds. But more disastrous was the long-term effect of these chemicals in the environment, soil, gravels etc affecting entire food chains.
The use of tributyltin as an antifouling agent banned 30 years ago in inshore waters and small vessels is still present and active in seabeds.
The recent concern about bees and neonicotinoids, which are a relatively new class of insecticides that share a common mode of action, is that they affects the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and death.
So what of salmon farming and the fight against the course of nature? Increasing biomass per farm, increased use of neurotoxins to control sea lice, antibiotics, changes in the marine environment and affects on the ecosystem are all now clear and catalogued.
At the same time farmed salmon in the supermarket has reduced in price progressively, artificially coloured yellow/orange by chemically produced carotenoids in the feed, containing double the fat content of wild salmon, fed by using fish oils often from Antarctica, palm oils (cheaper) and cereals (the fishmeal and fish oil from wild fish in fish feed have been partly replaced by vegetable ingredients). Wild salmon might be a super food, farmed salmon certainly is NOT.
The use of neurotoxins which are harming shell growth in shellfish is now of serious concern. To pretend that populating the salmon cages with wrasse to consume the parasitic sea lice will solve the problem is to me a fantasy. What it will do is denude the inshore reefs of Scotland of their cleaner fish, an important part of the ecosystem.
I believe we must all make a stand to protect the inshore waters of Scotland; in fact the whole inshore system of the UK, as wrasse capture is clearly a problem now in England. The salmon companies are offering all sorts of incentives to local communities to support the farms.
Unless we stand firmly in our belief that truly sustainable fisheries are the way forward for Scottish inshore waters, we are colluding in the destruction of the life support system for the planet, which is our marine environment. The choice is short-term profit for a few or a long-term positive strategy for improving Scottish marine waters, local fisheries, and small communities.