Arran Banner letters – week 42


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Follow the rules


The purpose of the Covid restrictions is to prevent transmission from one person to another, and establishments and customers need to follow the rules. We also need to call out people and establishments that fail to do so, otherwise why are we all bothering.

Last weekend I was in Ayr for two nights, and visited a total of six eating establishments – one hotel restaurant (where we were staying) and five cafes. Only two of the six were following the Scottish government guidelines, with breaches including tables too close together, so customers on different tables were touching each other, staff shaking hands with customers, staff not wearing masks, not disinfecting tables between customers and not taking contact details.

If we are going to slow or stop the spread of this virus, everybody must be very clear on what we are trying to achieve with the rules. The closure of particular types of establishments (many of which will have been rigorously enforcing the rules) will fail to stop Covid transmission if the eating establishments allowed to open don’t follow the rules.

Surely it is more important that an establishment follows the rules, not that it’s a cafe or restaurant? I agree that sanctions should be put onto Covid rule breaking establishments or for some other factor (such as excessive alcohol consumption) that is aiding virus transmission. Otherwise, they should be allowed to remain open for us to enjoy safely and to protect the jobs in all those rule-abiding eateries.

If that had been the basis of last week’s announcements then Arran’s rule following establishments would have been allowed to stay open, and it would not have mattered that we were lumped in with the mainland hotspots.


Timothy Billings,


Lamentable performance


In the last four months we have been to Arran  four times – correction, three times, the first, to attend a friend’s funeral, foundered on a ferry cancellation due to weather.  On the next three occasions there we suffered change of plans due to weather issues and ‘technical problems’.

The service to Arran, provided by CMAL, is nothing short of appalling. The island is suffering greatly due to people being unable to make concrete plans, not knowing, with any degree of certainty, when they might travel and return. The large number of properties for sale on the island is a testament to this lack of confidence.

The problem is that the ever larger vessels employed on the route are unable safely to use the Ardrossan harbour and the realigned Brodick pier. If the new build MV Glen Sannox is ever deployed on the route the problem will be exacerbated due to her size and the result will be ever more cancellations.

Ever larger vessels are not the answer to the problem, they are the cause. There is a solution to which CMAL appear to have a closed mind. Pentland Ferries have, due to her success, replaced the catamaran Pentalina with the 95 car catamaran Alfred operating in the notorious Pentland Firth providing, with amazing manoeuvrability, minimal interruptions.  Alfred cost about one third of the price of a CMAL monohull with operating costs around one third of a CMAL monohull of similar capacity.

Perhaps it is time for CMAL, when, if ever completed, to deploy the Glen Sannox on a more suitable route and commission catamarans, two, or perhaps, three to provide  Arran with the service which it needs and deserves, and that at greatly reduced costs with less weather related disruption.

It is time for CMAL to remove the corporate head from the sand and adopt modern practices by providing more reliable, frequent and less expensive services.  Pentland Ferries, an unsubsidised and profitable company, have shown the way with Alfred at one third of the cost of a CMAL monohull or,  perhaps, one tenth of the probable cost of the ill fated Glen Sannox.

The Scottish government throws unlimited amounts of money at CMAL where there is little to suggest that there is sufficient expertise to deliver the service required as evidenced by the Ferguson fiasco.  So far their performance is lamentable. Taxpayers deserve to see better use of their hard earned cash.


J Patrick Maclean,



Warm welcome awaits


Your correspondent Yvonne Jamieson asserts that Nicola Sturgeon has a deep hatred of the English. She provides no evidence for this misguided belief, which is unfounded, given that Ms Sturgeon’s granny was English. Many members of the SNP Isle of Arran Branch are also English, and having made the island their home, they are fully committed to the wonderful community we all enjoy here.

Ms Sturgeon has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to try to keep us all safe and to minimize the spread of Covid-19 as much as possible. If Ms Jamieson actually watched the First Minister’s daily briefing, as many people living in Yorkshire do, she would see how carefully the FM explains the logic of every decision she takes. This is why she has earned the trust of the majority of people in Scotland, including the residents of Arran.

Fortunately, sensible holiday makers ignored the fabricated claims that a border closure was likely and, once lockdown was over, many came to the island and enjoyed the great hospitality Arran is famous for.

It is a shame Ms Jamieson believed the scare stories of the worst elements of the media and cancelled her holiday. She can be assured of a warm Scottish welcome on her return to Arran next year.


Colin Milne,


SNP Isle of Arran Branch.


In praise of CalMac


In my residency on Arran of 40 years plus, one consistency in the Banner, has been the complaining about CalMac. So much so that it would seem that everything to do with them is rubbish. A case of all tarred with same brush.

In order to redress this tarnished reputation just a little, let me say that over last few weeks my life has been very difficult. It has involved fair bit of coming and going to the mainland. During this period ALL the staff at the pier have been polite and courteous, treating me and my family with great compassion. I will not name anyone in particular to save any embarrassment.

So please everyone, when listening to all the carping about CalMac, please remember that the staff at ground level are good people, doing a difficult job in these Covid times.


Roy Beddows,



Simple argument


Regarding his letter in last week’s Banner, Mr Grindall misinterprets what I said in my letter of October 2. Maybe I should have put it differently, but my argument was simple and I will repeat it.

Entertaining one visiting person in homes is forbidden. Entertaining one visiting person in a restaurant was permitted. I am surely allowed ask to what an epidemiologist, in theory, would say are the relative risks of these two situations. The truth is that both risks are low on Arran.

I have never gone against any of the rules laid down by the government but reserve the right to question some of them when blanket regulations seem inappropriate in places where Covid is low or zero and people behave responsibly.


Dr John Cruickshank,

Whiting Bay.


Iain Hendry remembered


We were saddened to read of Iain Hendry’s death in the Banner.

For many years we were leaders of walking holidays and excursions for the Holiday Fellowship at Altachorvie , Lamlash. We always used local transport and local drivers. Iain was outstanding for his unfailing courtesy and the local knowledge he was always happy to share with us.

Love and condolences to Lavinia and Iain’s family.


Joyce and David Hilton,