THE comments made by Stephen Boyle, Auditor General of Scotland, to a Holyrood committee investigating the ferry building fiasco are quite extraordinary (“Public finance watchdog warns over ‘lack of ferry transparency'”, The Herald, April 22). Ultimately, they reveal a real frustration at not being able to verify all the facts, underscored by his comment that “we have not been able to review what we consider to be all of the relevant evidence”. Furthermore, he comments that “lessons learned seem too glib to describe the circumstances that lie ahead, as the ferries are two and a half times over budget and are years behind schedule.”
What an appalling indictment of the entire procurement process proposed by SNP ministers and the Prime Minister’s lame offer that ‘lessons will be learned’. It is the public treasury that pays for these “lessons” and the SNP’s record shows that it skipped all apprenticeship classes.
The ferry fiasco is nothing short of industry-wide neglect costing the struggling taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds that could have been better spent on our failing NHS and education services. It is now clear from Mr. Boyle’s comments that a full public inquiry must be held to hold these ineffective and incompetent ministers to account. They could then just learn the lesson or, hopefully, not put their dirty paws on the public purse again.
Richard Allison, Edinburgh.
WHERE WILL THE CONSERVATIVES GO?
STRUAN Stevenson (“No wonder voters despair over SNP incompetence”, The Herald, April 21) unsurprisingly paints a very bleak picture of what an independent Scotland would be like under the SNP and the Greens. It would be interesting to hear his views on what an independent Scotland would be like under his beloved Tories; or does he think that after independence they would inevitably take inspiration from Longfellow and “fold their tents like the Arabs and flee in silence”?
Willie Maclean, Milngavie.
SCOTLAND DRILLED DOWN
SCOTLAND must balance its books every year. The deficit Struan Stevenson is referring to is in the GERS report, where all sorts of UK costs that don’t benefit Scotland are listed, such as HS2, London’s Crossrail (estimated at £19billion), pennies -Trident nuclear marines (around £2.4bn a year and with rising costs). Then there is Brexit, which is hurting the whole UK economy, particularly Scottish exports.
Boris Johnson is really struggling about this. He is about to announce a fourth delay in goods imported from the EU – so imports are also a mess. Scotland have been deprived of replacement EU funding of around £151million. The Scottish Government’s overall budget is about the same today as it was in 2010/11. The Fraser of Allander Institute said that of the money Scotland actually controls, the budget is around 5% lower than in 2010/11.
So Scotland is being dragged down by being in the great, mismanaged and undemocratic Great Britain. In contrast, similar countries in Europe like Denmark and Ireland are in good economic shape. Ireland’s GDP per capita is higher than that of the UK.
Pol Yates, Edinburgh.
THE PARTIES SHOULD WORK TOGETHER
I WRITE in response to Anas Sarwar’s dictatorship over council alliances (“Sarwar shouldn’t ‘dictate any SNP deal’, Labor council boss insists”, The Herald, April 21).
As a former councilor and leader of Clackmannanshire Council, I grew increasingly frustrated with the control exercised by Labor headquarters.
Working in partnership with other local elected officials should be of service to local communities, so I have my sympathy for Councilor Elaine Murray of Dumfries & Galloway.
The ‘Aberdeen City Nine’ are still in limbo and are still excluded from the Labor Party. I understand that the Aberdeen City coalition has had positive results for the good people of Aberdeen.
With the process of proportional representation of the vote in Scotland and following the local elections on May 5, I am sure there will be more councils deciding to negotiate a way of working together in the best interests of the electorate.
Teresa McNally, Hello.
AN SOP TO PATRICK HARVIE
THE way the SNP introduces its new motorist taxes, it will soon be cheaper to buy a car than to run it (“Stop That Anti-Motor Measures Car Crash”, The Herald, April 22). The latest initiatives to make drivers sick include road tolls and driving charges in Edinburgh or Glasgow. These are obviously a concession to Patrick Harvie, who sold his party to the SNP in exchange for a modicum of power at Holyrood.
I always liken the SNP to a window with too many people staring at the glass without looking through it to see what’s on the other side.
Ian Balloch, Grangemouth.
Is the Scottish NHS wrong to ‘poach’ staff from poorer countries?
KEEP POLITICS OUT OF THE NHS
HEALTH Secretary Humza Yousaf proudly announced this week that ‘Scottish hospitals have hired 191 nurses from countries including India and the Philippines and hundreds of support staff to help the NHS meet ‘unprecedented challenges’ “” (“Scottish hospitals receive massive recruitment boost, claims Yousaf”, The Herald, April 20) He said agreements were in place with recruitment agencies to hire 203 more nurses and more than 1,000 staff from support.
My view is that our past history of ‘poaching’ Scottish NHS staff from countries which desperately need the same staff to work in their own hospitals and health services is a shameful and unethical practice, only made possible luring these staff with the lure of better salaries than their home country can afford. So we have been part of a culture that has stripped away the demands of other much more needy nations for health personnel to staff their own health services…shame on us.
Meanwhile, over the past 15 years or so, we have drastically reduced the number of nurse trainees and future doctors at our own universities. This is a short-sighted ticking time bomb of a policy, strongly opposed by our senior nursing colleagues, which has slowly exploded over the years, and is now being brought into sharp relief by Covid.
We need an NHS free from partisan political interference and competition…an NHS that every politician of every party pledges to fully support, fund and advance, and go for it wholeheartedly. This is a very long-term process, which will take between 15 and 20 years to develop. This should not discourage us; we must recognize that there are no easy or quick answers.
And we ‘ordinary’ people have to face the fact that a well-staffed and well-run NHS needs adequate funding and be prepared to contribute whatever it takes.
We are all in this together, and cooperation, not competition, is the path we must choose. I would plead with our politicians to stop their endless points and incessant divisive partisan wrangling, and hit the mark for once. To once again make our NHS in Scotland a service that meets the needs of its patients. Please start by being honest with us Scots, and listen carefully without preconceptions to those working on the front line, because they know what is needed, and please go ahead.
Alasdair Fyfe, Glasgow.
THREATENED BY DEER PLAGUE
HERE in the Western Isles we are developing a growing problem of deer incursions. I suppose the same could be true in other parts of Scotland.
I don’t know what caused it, but I could guess there are less people in the last three springs, due to Covid. Fewer filming evenings and less regularly, for the same reason?
I have been a vegetarian for half my life and have always shied away from inciting bloodshed but, like many friends and colleagues, I have spent years planting trees and shrubs to trying to transform this usually treeless landscape and finding it heartbreaking to see eaten and broken. Planting trees here is a labor-intensive labor of love; nurturing them against all the strains of storms and gales, not to mention animals, is not for the faint-hearted.
Where I live, at the head of Loch Leurbost, seven miles south of Stornoway and on the east side of the Isle of Lewis, we never saw any deer at all until Spring/Summer 2020. You them see on main roads occasionally and in remote places, but never inside these villages. Now colleagues and friends regularly report that their hard-earned efforts in the garden or farm have been decimated by an incursion of deer.
This morning, I brought deer and young stags to my house. They know no fear; we only chased them at tea time last night. They graze the grass which, if they stuck to it, might be OK. They eat and break trees and shrubs which, as noted, have taken time, money and not insignificant expense to grow. For my part, I had several “owners packs” from Woodland Trust and I planted them, as well as other trees, larches for example, which I bought and/or received.
There are other problems associated with these invasions: these animals are dripping with ticks, which then cover the croft and are brought into the house on the dog’s coat. Unlike sheep, they are not “soaked” and there is nothing to prevent the tick population from expanding as well. I know of at least one co-worker who faced a serious and life-threatening illness from Lyme disease (which is transmitted by ticks).
Second, deer are a threat on the roads, due to their high numbers. They can appear in quite large herds out of nowhere and be on a car or van before the driver even notices. They can cause widespread damage, often shattering the windscreen – but more seriously, it could lead to the death of the driver or passenger.
There must be some sort of concerted plan in Scotland, and certainly in these islands, to solve this problem. It’s not just going to go away; the only threat to deer is people with guns, otherwise their populations will continue to increase, as they have.
Stephanie Sargent (Ms), North Lochs, Isle of Lewis.
LET US SPRAY
To anyone who has followed recent correspondence on enriching a beloved compost heap (Letters, April 19, 20 and 21), and is the proud owner of one of “man’s best friends” , there is of course a regular daily source of free, fresh liquid fertilizer.
For connoisseurs, it is called “K9P”.
R Russell Smith, Largs.
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