Letters: Ferry passengers left high and dry

Passengers wait to board a CalMac ferry. Picture: Craig Borland/TSPL
Passengers wait to board a CalMac ferry. Picture: Craig Borland/TSPL
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We are deeply concerned regarding the treatment of Islay and Jura visitors and residents over the past week by CalMac Ferries and by the lack of interest shown by Transport Scotland.

Visitors who have long since booked and paid for ferries to Islay have had their journeys cancelled and told that due to “technical difficulties” the vessel has been taken off the route. We have written evidence of a suggestion to one visitor to just cancel their holiday and not to worry as “the hotels will be so busy with people stuck on the island that they should go elsewhere and that they won’t have to pay for cancellation”.

Elderly people and families with children with cars full of prams, cots etc have been told their only option is to travel as foot passengers to an island with little public transport and a limited number of hire cars. Accommodation providers are lending their own cars to customers and driving people around to avoid their holidays being spoiled.

The hundreds of people who have had their holiday cancelled at the last minute are hardly likely to make a journey to Islay next year, while prospective customers learning of these regular problems are unlikely to even consider the islands as viable destinations.

Islay has suffered for many years with lack of capacity on ferries, and this current situation has occurred at least once a year for the past eight years, with further disruptions adding to uncertainty on what seems an increasing frequency, yet still CalMac insists on building ferries that don’t fit all the routes that they operate. Two 100m ferries that will not fit the Islay link-spans are the latest to be ordered.

We ask that this situation is rectified as soon as possible and that our visitors and our residents, many of whom work very hard to produce the whisky that contributes a massive amount to the economy of Scotland and the United Kingdom, are treated with some consideration and given a ferry service that is fit for purpose.

John Connor, David Graham, James McEwan, Duncan Anderson, Jack Fleming, Catherine Fotheringham, Alan & Isobel Graham, Joyce & Malcolm Hall, Jean Connor,Margaret & Ian Brooke, Joan & Paul Graham, Iain Shaw, Amna Campbell, Ian & Marion Spiers, Jennifer Husthwaite, Robert & Rona Daly, Islay MacEachern, Stuart & Claire Provan, Catriona Bell, Jacqueline Brown, and Andrew & Paul Shaw

Catch us if you can

Another day, another achievement. Other cities may boast of extensions to the V&A, or a bypass, but here in Auld Reekie we can trump the lot.

Do they have most of the gravestones in their cemeteries lying broken and flattened by heavy industrial machinery? No? Shame on them, then.

Do they have streets riddled with potholes to act as a sort of driving Braille to let everyone know they are in Edinburgh by the percussive racket dished out to their cars? Not likely.

Some of us had hoped to splurge a few mill on a railway track which is actually in place already to take commuters around the city and in to the city centre. The council soon showed us the error of our ways by equalling the cost of the US Moonshot for a tram that supposedly travels in from the airport.

Now, however, we have the best achievement of the lot. It involves a requirement for the police to spend their time giving motorists tickets if they drive faster than 20mph. It means they will always be able to nail the culprit. Success!

It’s a real winner, as we get lots of free exhaust fumes and the city’s garages will get lots of business from repairing the cars which were not designed for that sort of speed. Just think of the economic spill-over.

Look on Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen and despair.

Andrew HN Gray

Craiglea Drive , Edinburgh

Cross words

I am sorry Donald Lewis (Letters, 1 August) has taken umbrage at me saying that the opponents of the Named Person scheme included religious fundamentalists. However, he should check out the background of The Christian Institute who mainly funded and co-ordinated the Named Person legal challenge as this body has a long track record of homophobia and amongst other things defends parents’ rights to smack children.

Although a charity registered in Newcastle, it has been censored by the Charities Commission for funding political activities and has brought numerous cases to court against same sex legislation passed by Westminster and Holyrood.

For the record, I have never joined any political party but I am a Church member who does not want to see well-funded, right-wing American-style evangelism undermining the democratic process which in this case passed the Named Person scheme with no votes against.

Mary Thomas

Watson Crescent, Edinburgh

Dishonourable

I wholly agree with Lesley Riddoch (Scottish Perspective, 1 August) that the British honours system is risible, corrupt and obsolete.

It commands the sort of contempt academics have for honorary doctorates or humanitarians for the Nobel Peace Prize and all three should be binned.

As Groucho Marx said: “I wouldn’t want to belong to a club that accepts people like me as a member” – and certainly not the likes of Jimmy Savile, Phil Green or Fred Goodwin.

Rev Dr John Cameron

Howard Place, St Andrews, Fife

Do your job, SNP

If I were a schoolteacher tasked with marking Angus Robertson’s essay in The Scotsman (Scottish Perspective, 29 July), my marginal notes would read “must do better and try to be a little less patronising”.

As someone who is passionately pro-European and was (and still am) deeply disappointed by the result of the EU referendum,can I assure Mr Robertson that I do not feel that I was either “misled” or “hoodwinked” by what was said about Europe in the 2014 referendum into voting to remain in the UK, as he infers.

Mr Robertson’s regurgitation of the interminable SNP mantra that the result of the EU referendum was that Scotland was being “dragged out of Europe against the will of the Scottish people” is plain and simple constitutional nonsense. It is on a par with saying that Dundee and Glasgow in 2014 were kept in the UK “against the will of the citizens of Dundee and Glasgow”.

While I in no way condone the ridiculous pantomime at Westminster over the last few months, Mr Robertson and his SNP colleagues would do Scotland a favour if at long last they resolved to actually try to govern Scotland properly for the benefit of its people,something they were elected and piously promised to do. Instead, they are ignoring their fundamental responsibilities by seeking to accumulate as many chips on their shoulders as possible, so that they can keep up a constant stream of blaming everyone else for Scotland’s undoubted ills, for many of which they alone are responsible.

John Donald

Essex Road, Edinburgh

Pension tension

In the famous World In Action documentary in 1984, a newly elected Tory MP called Matthew Parris, full of Thatcherite idealism, was challenged to live for a week in Newcastle on the supplementary benefit awarded to a single man. His views were to change considerably.

A number of others since then – including Piers Merchant, Michael Portillo, David Willetts and Austin Mitchell – have had similar experiences.

I would,therefore,challenge Lady Altmann to live on the basic state pension for one week and let us see how she gets on.

John V Lloyd

Keith Place, Inverkeithing, Fife

Rough ride

As the Scottish Government spends £600,000 every month on loss-making Prestwick Airport, couldn’t the SNP find something better to spend money on? Such as education, the NHS and our struggling public services.

The cash is a loan with the airport not required to start repayments until 2023, when, at one time, it was expected to start making a profit. But not only is Prestwick missing passenger growth targets, it’s lost two million passengers in seven years – so the payback dates looks increasingly uncertain.

The airport is used only by Ryanair for passenger traffic and the airline is planning to focus future business growth in mainland Europe, while Central Belt Scots clearly want to fly from Glasgow and Edinburgh airports.

It’s obvious the SNP brought the airport into state ownership as a populist, yet financially flawed gesture. Isn’t it now time Nicola Sturgeon admitted she’s wasting our taxes on propping up a white elephant?

Martin Redfern

Royal Circus, Edinburgh

Language barrier

You have recently published letters from readers who shout at the TV when words such as “floor” and “less” are used instead of the correct “ground” and “fewer”.

I can add more to the list. How about the almost universal usage of “best” when comparing two things, instead of “better”? Or “disinterested” when “uninterested” is obviously intended? Or “amount” instead of “number”, “everyday” instead of “every day”, the frequent confusion between “imply” and “infer”? Don’t even get me started on the “it’s/its” and “their/they’re/there” misuses. I don’t even have to think about the proper use of any of these words – why can’t everyone else who went to school? It’s not difficult.

W F Hamilton

Lanark Road, Edinburgh

Benefiting no-one

I thought I had seen it all in the PC world of SNP. Now we’re being advised that when it gets welfare as a devolved power, a top priority is to ban the word ‘benefits’ as it “stigmatises people”.

This earth-shaking news was divulged at recent consultation meeting attended by Cabinet Secretary Angela Constance and Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman.

When you think of all Scotland’s current ills and add to them problems with welfare, you would think these two well-paid, “educated” individuals in charge of welfare would have something more important to focus on than trivialities like this.

Derek Drever

Campbell Drive, Troon, Ayrshire