Readers' Letters: VisitScotland to blame for campervan chaos

I have been visiting the Highlands backpacking on foot and bike and I have made many, many visits in my campervan, always parking responsibly and never, ever leaving litter or human waste.

The North Coast 500 route has seen an influx of camper vans and tourists (Picture: Paul Campbell/Getty Images)

I travelled before VisitScotland named the NC500 in order to encourage visitors. VisitScotland is to blame for the plethora of campervans because they committed a serious error – no infrastructure, namely van aires. "Please visit and boost our economy but we haven't provided you enough places for you to stay in your van and we don't want you in the car parks or lay-bys and if there are any problems, we'll penalise you all instead of punishing those culpable."

Yes, some ignorant idiots leave litter and waste but you are penalising the responsible majority by imposing punitive measures and restrictions on all.Someone from VisitScotland needs to go to Europe and learn how the French especially, Germans, Italians and Spanish provide aires in villages and more so in tourist hotspots. Britain is the only European country with inadequate campervan infrastructure.

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Solution: 1) Go to France and learn how they accommodate campervans;

2) Provide aires;

3) Fine the perpetrators thousands for littering, parking on a passing place and in front of an access;

4) Allow parking for two nights for a few vans on any car park and throw some off if too many.

Don't punish the many for the actions of the few, that's the lazy way out of a problem, caused by Visit Scotland not thinking, planning or providing adequate infrastructure. The Highlands rely greatly on tourism and Visit Scotland is well on the way to its destruction.

I am setting off again to the Highlands and I do not feel welcome at all and will say such, everywhere I go, as I spend my money. Travelling in a campervan in France and most of Europe is a sheer joy, this trip to the Highlands will be a nightmare.

June Banks, Skipton, Yorkshire

Sweet and sour

It was over quarter of a century ago that Labour leader John Smith judged that a devolved government in Scotland was “the settled will of the Scottish people” yet the Tories have never accepted the principle that Scots know best what is good for Scotland. So as I read your headline “PM to unveil ‘sweeteners’ for Scottish voters ahead of election” (3 May) I was dismayed, though hardly surprised.

At a time when Scots’ support for independence seems to be in the ascendancy, Boris Johnston’s response is to throw cash at projects he favours. As the constitutional debate smoulders, he is about to throw petrol on it. His view clearly remains that Conservative London knows best, despite the evidence of more than 50 years since they won a majority of seats in Scotland. The Brexit vote for Remain in Scotland should have taught him a lesson, but there is none so deaf as those that will not hear.

Kit Fraser, Runciman Court, Dunbar

COP-out

To the best of my knowledge, the parties contesting the upcoming Holyrood election have chickened out of demanding the ecologically obvious: that November's COP26 conference in Glasgow be a virtual one.

The Greens' silence is especially surprising, but then, they attach more importance to LGBT issues nowadays than to saving the planet. It's one reason I left them a long time ago, after many years of activism and candidacy.

Mind you, the sight of the Great and the Good junketing for nearly a fortnight, masked except when shovelling down the haggis, and armed with two-metre sticks, would give us a good laugh. Except that we, the taxpayers, will be footing the bill.

George Morton, Hudson Road, Rosyth

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Oh Mourinho

According to Nicola Sturgeon, we need a strong leader for Scotland's recovery. This made me think of similarities between her and Jose Mourinho. She obviously believes that she is the "chosen one" and in the past Mourinho became known by this moniker. Both have great hubris but, as the ancient Greeks would have it, nemesis is lurking around the corner.

Jose's nemesis appeared in the form of his recent sacking by Spurs. The similarities between Sturgeon and Mourinho go no further. He at least has an exceptional record of achievements with various football teams from different countries over the years. Scotland has been waiting for achievements in education, health, solving drug problems, economic vision and development, law and order, to name a few, since 2014 under the current regime.

How I wish Jose Mourinho was standing in the Holyrood election. We could do no worse.

There is also a vacancy for the Scotland ladies football team manager, Nicola.

Fraser MacGregor, Liberton Drive, Edinburgh

But seriously

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s interviews over the last weekend before the election delivered some serious messages.

Firstly, if anyone has been left in any doubt over the course of the unfolding Covid crisis, Nicola Sturgeon reminded us that the current situation is indeed “serious”.Next she went on to emphasise that it was so serious that it needed a “serious” First Minister to deal with it, something she said with sufficient emphasis that we would all realise that only one politician could be that “serious”.Presumably the unsubtle intention of this “serious” spin was to have us all imagining that no one else in this election is to be taken seriously.A party that so readily equates itself with Scotland as a whole, led as it is by one positioning herself permanently on the moral high ground, now wants us to believe that it has cornered the market for seriousness.There is a line beyond which political rhetoric translates into a serious sense of self entitlement, but Nicola Sturgeon seems oblivious to such concerns.

Keith Howell, West Linton

Once bitten...

Three days before the Scottish Parliamentary election in which the parties supporting independence are expected to do well, the peer, Lord Lisvane, pops up with a suggestion that proposals from his Scottish Reform Group would give Scotland many more powers whilst enabling it to stay within the United Kingdom (Perspective, 3 May). The subtext is asking voters to support unionist parties as better days are ahead.Those of us with long memories will recall a similar intervention by another peer, Lord Home, in the 1979 Devolution Referendum debate. When it looked as if Scots might vote for devolution, Lord Home stepped forward and said that the Conservative Party supported devolution but that the scheme put forward to the electorate was seriously flawed. Vote “no”, he declared, and a Conservative government will come up with a better plan. A majority of voters still supported devolution but not enough to meet the criterion for success and the plan was dropped. Lord Home's better scheme never materialised and the years from 1979 until the formation of a Scottish Parliament at the end of the century, and even beyond, were marked by the total hostility of the Conservative Party to any form of devolution.

It was only as recently as 2014 that the Scottish Conservatives accepted devolution was here to stay. Scots voters trusting in the promises of Unionists shortly before an important election would do well to study their history books.

Ian McKee, The Cedars, Edinburgh

Learn lessons

Look at the disruption and distraction the last few years has proved as the nation has extracted itself from the EU. Unfortunately, once the referendum votes were cast the government had to fulfil the demands of the people; whether two years later people would have voted the same way will be a question we will never know, but we may guess, possibly not.

Let’s learn the lessons of it! If it takes this much disruption to disengage from a 40-year union, what would be the financial cost and disruption to our lives and livelihoods of extracting ourselves from a 400-year union, and with a partner that Scotland does three times more trade with than the EU, and with which we also share our currency, and armed forces? One thing we can be sure of is that it will be hugely disruptive, and will leave Scotland in a weaker, poorer position with long lasting damage that could never be undone.

The SNP government of the past 14 years has demonstrated ineptitude in education, child poverty, life expectancy; despite huge levels of devolved powers and funding at its disposal progress is slipping behind the rest of the UK. Why on earth would we want them to drag us into independence and create an even bigger mess that future generations will suffer for?

N Smerdon, Westgates, Fife

Faith no more

This week The Scottish Charity Register will conclude its consultation on how it awards “charitable status” with its associated privileges and tax breaks. To qualify, groups must provide “public benefit”, but for some time now the “advancement of religion” has in itself been enough (Section C of “Charitable Purposes”).

We often assume religious social action means coffee mornings and campaigning against poverty. Who would contest that? However, some religious groups hold views which violate equality legislation in their attitudes towards women or LGBT people. Others promote activities such as “gay conversion therapy”, infant genital surgery and non-stun animal slaughter. A few seek to limit free speech. Far from providing “public benefit,” many might consider these ideas to be socially harmful. Groups which genuinely do good must of course be eligible for charitable status – but their faith positions should be irrelevant.

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society, Saughtonhall Drive, Edinburgh

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