Arran Banner letters – week 21

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Radical action needed

The threat to the National Trust for Scotland, as reported on the Banner’s front page of May 15, should be cause for urgent and radical action in the same way shutdown is being addressed elsewhere in the economy.

On Arran we should be particularly sensitive to this. Brodick Castle and gardens are the principal seasonal tourist attraction supporting the economy of Arran. An important upland management project of peatland restoration and tree-planting is helping towards national carbon reduction commitments.

Meanwhile, the connections within the community are far-reaching and cover so many aspects of Arran life from educational links with schools to fun activities for all ages. The wonderful local NTS staff support many key community organisations and provide encouragement and support to the many volunteers involved in the work of the trust. These personal links depend on the enthusiasm and expertise of those same staff members who now face potential redundancy.

However, I do not see evidence the NTS head office value these strong local links nor the expertise and good practice at local level. My lack of faith is based on previous ‘remedial action’ which has seen a loss in key specialities within the trust, for example ecology, and an increased recourse to commissioned consultants who pay little or no attention to local knowledge. Perversely this exercise does not seem to have diminished the upper management team.

At this critical time I would hope directors will remember the trust’s primary purpose, namely to protect our heritage landscapes and properties and manage them for public access. It is about places and people in equal measure.

At the castle I think we all appreciate the need for essential safety works and the fresh approach to presentation that necessitated closure for two years. However, no amount of highly paid consultants can build and maintain community links and a local volunteer force.

It is great to see Kenneth Gibson is highlighting the urgency of the NTS situation in government (Kenneth.gibson.msp@parliament.scot). NTS also has a consultation process: consultation@nts.org.uk.

Yours,

Robin Barnden,

Lamlash.

Not a gift

I was frustrated by the letter in the Banner of May 8 arguing it is British money rather than Scottish money being awarded as grants during coronavirus.

This money is not a gift graciously bestowed on us from a foreign country. Scotland is part of Britain and that money is merely our share of the national assets/borrowing.

As for different rules and regulations north and south of the border, this is the reality of a devolved parliament. There are measures being taken to suit the needs of each country. If everything was exactly the same in each country throughout Britain, there would little benefit in having a devolved parliament.

That does not mean we should be different just for the sake of it and I am sure improvements could be made. However, it is worth noting there are funds available in Scotland but not England, such as the interest free loans for private landlords.

I for one am very glad we have a body which is considering the interests of Scotland first and foremost during these times. It is our devolved parliaments that can ensure tailor made plans for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

If Boris Johnston had the power available to him last week, you can be sure  we would now be in a one-size-doesn’t-fit-all-solution shaped around the needs of London.

Whilst this is not the time to push for independence, it is certainly not a time to decry the benefits our parliament in Edinburgh gives us.

Yours,

Andy McNamara,

Whiting Bay.

Second homes

Sir,

May I, and I am sure others in Arran villages, vent our frustration and growing anger at CalMac, local police and the authorities over the influx of second home owners/holiday home owners into Corrie and other Arran villages.

It is beyond disgraceful CalMac is allowing them to travel over here. Nice to see CalMac putting profit before islanders’ health and well-being. How can they possibly explain that to us?

What are the local police doing about this situation? It seems nothing, again disgraceful inaction. Can they explain themselves?

Thirdly, there is local authority inaction in tackling this, it seems.

Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives rules seem not to apply to second home/holiday home owners. Why, when the majority of us are following these rules, are a small minority getting away with flaunting the lockdown rules?

It is time action was taken regarding this matter or it will lead to problems.

Yours,

Gary Scott,

Corrie.

Bells silenced

Sir,

In response to the church bell request in your letters page last week, as one of Lamlash Church bellringers, I’ve been desperate to play Lamlash church bells to send out cheer around the village.

However, essential journeys only during this lockdown period plus a problem in the church itself which hasn’t allowed anyone to be inside the building pre COVID-19 has prevented that. Our church services were taking place in the hall before coronavirus.

In the meantime, please direct any readers to http://lamlashkilmorychurch.co.uk/2018/06/lamlash-church-bells/
where they can enjoy hearing the bells playing anytime, not just on a Thursday at 8pm.

Yours,

Alison Page,

Lamlash.