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Readers’ letters: Deterring seagulls in Elgin, Big Noise Torry and mental health

In today's letters, our readers discuss devices deterring seagulls from nesting in Elgin, Big Noise Torry and how mental health should be a big focus for First Minister.

A Herring gull, a species of seagull. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson
A Herring gull, a species of seagull. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Sir, – The feature on Moray Council installing eight “sonic devices” across Elgin to deter nesting seagulls, while a good idea, surprised me a bit with the figures quoted – “up to £15,000” to have them in place for “around 10 to 12 weeks”, which I assume means the council won’t actually own them.

I hope these devices are a step up from the ones on sale on a popular e-commerce site for anything between £40 to £200, although surely they work just the same. Desperate measures?

Ian Craig, Aberdeen.

Take back control of fishing industry for economic survival

Sir, – Our new first minister was recently reported in Aberdeen, where he stated that he is not going to throw the workers in the north-east on the scrap heap.

But this statement apparently doesn’t apply to all of those involved in the fishing industry, as the Scottish Government are presently selling off vast areas of our Scottish fishing grounds, to companies in overseas countries for wind farm development.

We are now also aware that they have additional proposals in place to introduce a number of highly protected marine areas, in our Scottish waters which would exclude all forms of fishing in vast areas of what was once our UK nations’ fishing grounds.

Newly elected First Minister of Scotland Humza Yousaf during First Minster’s Questions (FMQ’s) at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh. Image: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Those fishing grounds are crucial to the survival of fishing communities around the Scottish coastline.

These actions make it appear that our government is on a mission to wipe out what’s left of the Scottish fishing industry altogether, as this would exclude what’s left of Scotland’s fishing fleets from enormous sea areas, containing the valuable assets that have sustained life in our islands and coastal communities for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

This situation was recently exacerbated by an agreement made during the Brexit negotiations, by the then UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the guise of taking back control of our nations fishing grounds.

However, reality shows it had the opposite effect with an even larger fleet of EU fishing vessels now being allowed to benefit from the marine assets in the waters surrounding our nation.

Anyone with a suspicious mind might now be thinking that the partnership presently in governance of our country, is perhaps being influenced by another organisation from overseas which may be on a mission to wipe out what is left of our nation’s fishing industry.

Therefore leaving all of our traditional fishing grounds for the benefit of fishing fleets from other nations that are apparently not hampered by their own government imposed fisheries rules and regulations while fishing in our nation’s waters.

Image: Marine Stewardship Council

We can only hope that the politicians in charge of running our country will eventually realise that the destruction of the fishery dependant industries and coastal communities of our country is not a price worth paying for. Also worth noting is the Scottish Government’s close relationship with a fanatical international organisation, which has an apparent desire to wipe out the fishing activities in as many areas of the world as they can. Fishing is so important for the economic survival of a large proportion of the population in the coastal communities all around our own island nation.

Our Scottish government’s apparent attitude towards the peripheral fisheries -dependant population of Scotland, is nothing short of a scandalous dereliction in the duty of governance of our country and should be highlighted and opposed at every opportunity until this appalling and devastating course of action is reversed.

William Polson, Whalsay.

Putting the blame on others

Sir, – Another day and surprise, surprise another letter from Ian Beattie taking his daily pop at Sir Ian Wood over I presume St Fittick’s Park. I am at a loss to what point he is trying to make.

Sir Ian Wood. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

I presume he is trying to put the blame on Sir Ian for destroying Union Terrace Gardens. Sorry Ian, lay the blame on that one firmly and squarely on Aberdeen City Council.

In my opinion, your correspondent has a massive chip on his shoulder regards Sir Ian.

May I suggest that instead of framing his letters in language no educated person can understand he should use plain English and let us all into his secret.

James Noel, Leggart Terrace, Aberdeen.

Another ‘addition’ bites the dust

Sir, – It was interesting to note that Dick Winchester (letters P&J) tried to downplay the main thrust of my letter about the report from the London School of Economics (LSE) which stated that leaving the UK internal market would adversely impact Scotland by a factor of two to three times compared to Brexit.

In doing so he made some lame excuse about how he would look forward to some future mystical “second addition” report he inexplicably assumes would ignore the LSE report by magically recognising hitherto unknown positive points which could arise from an Indy Scotland, where others have failed.

For goodness sake, how many “additions“ does he want – especially as the SNP have had access to all the information they need for numerous years? First, we had the white paper (2014) which was proven to be nonsense and was subsequently binned, then under Nicola Sturgeon we got the much heralded Growth Commission report (“the new case for optimism” – May, 2018) by her respected SNP economist Andrew Wilson.

Image: Kath Flannery/ DC Thomson

But as that report clearly spelled out the harsh economic reality about accepting GERS and our share of debt as the starting point it also got short shrift. Notwithstanding his recommendation for sterlingisation for a number of years and accepting we would have to be out of the EU for up to 10 years.

Meanwhile, Gavin McCrone (the Scottish economist the SNP love to misquote) published his book in February 2022 “After Brexit”, he also said an Indy Scotland dealing with the twin deficits would be problematic as we spend much more money than we generate in taxes.

But even more damning, he goes on to warn that even with increasing taxes and a cut in public expenditure, Scotland as a new borrower with no market credibility like the UK would have to pay considerably more on its borrowings.

Oh dear another “addition” bites the dust for the dwindling numbers of SNP supporters. In summary, instead of acting like the Dickens character Mr Micawber in the hope “something will turn up” Mr Winchester should deal with the here and now and face the uncomfortable facts as published by credible organisations – but then again nationalism “transcends” everything including economic reality.

Ian Lakin, Milltimber.

Falsity of unity and competence

In his lengthy letter of negative economic grumbles which he attributes to Brexit and Westminster government (P&J April 6), veteran contributor and doom monger Dick Winchester expects people to believe the party pining for independence would deliver a sunny uplands in his utopian existence of a Scotland of plenty.

Run by a team of top class politicians with curriculum vitaes and track records of excellence to match, as is normal in selecting executives in a business.

However, the recent implosion of SNP personnel, laid bare during the leadership contest, revealed the falsity of unity and competence in a party unable to build a couple of ferry boats, unable to set up a national bank of any significance, and nowhere near fulfilling their promise to fully dual the A9 and A96 or even produce a 10th of their wind power jobs as they boasted about Scotland being the Saudi Arabia of wind power.

Mr Winchester possibly has not seen the exodus of front line, household name politicians like John Swinney, Kate Forbes, Ivan McKee, Keith Brown, Ash Regan, Jeanne Freeman, Ian Blackford, Nicola Sturgeon and Peter Murrell.

And also the 30,000 ordinary members, reflecting the current mood of Nationalist supporters.

Given the recent difficulties and self inflicted harm caused by unpopular gender reforms, Greens bottle return scheme, and police investigations into SNP finances, the choice is not as the writer suggests, cut and dried, but cut and run before the net closes in on 14 years of uninspiring mediocrity from a group whose tank is well and truly empty.

Angus McNair, Buckie.

Committee system needs an overhaul

Sir, – Humza Yousaf has stated that the governance and transparency of the SNP needs to be “reviewed”.

It’s not just the SNP which needs to have its governance looked at but in addition, the Scottish Parliament and its workings need an overhaul.

Scottish Parliament. Image: Andrew Cowan/ Scottish Parliament/ PA Wire

Over the years the SNP government has manipulated the parliamentary processes to its own ends.

The parliamentary committee system and how it’s governed needs a complete overhaul. When the parliament was established, its committee system was supposed to be superior, in practice it has been devalued significantly. It would help if MSPs were given the same rights to parliamentary privilege as MPs, giving them the ability to speak out if required.

Another move would be to make the position of lord advocate independent from government.

The position would then be able to provide the government with unbiased advice, and would also be able to direct the procurator fiscal’s office again without influence – something which may be of importance in the coming week.

The current turmoil should be used to enact a number of revisions to the way we are governed.

Mike Salter, Banchory.

Lack of cultural compassion

Sir, – Ben Hendry’s article (April 10) concerning Big Noise Torry orchestra centre shows a lack of local cultural compassion by some of the members of Aberdeen City Council.

At a time of financial constraint, it is always the “soft targets” that seem to suffer the most.

To state “there isn’t conclusive proof of the positive impact of Big Noise Torry on the attainment and engagement of all learners in the Torry area” about this fantastic local innovation can only be a spurious opinion, especially in the absence of any meaningful academic research.

Big Noise Torry, Aberdeen. Image: Alan Richardson

Where evidence does exist regarding supported music education, it is shown to greatly benefit youngsters in personal and collective confidence-building, improving cognitive abilities in other spheres of learning and offering greater mental well-being, as well as higher levels of social interaction.

It is therefore a matter of real concern that so many decision-makers appear to be so ill-informed when it comes to matters concerning the arts and culture in general, and music in particular.

By way of a further correction, may I inform at least one councillor that the money he refers to is not the “Scottish Government’s”, rather it is ours, and we rely totally on elected members to spend it with due discernment and some compassion.

This would certainly apply in this instance, and where our youngsters, some of whom may be marginalised or disaffected, can once again have the opportunity to look forward to a vibrant and purposeful future through the joy of music.

David Meiklejohn, Kingswells.

Save our libraries

Sir, – If the government can step in and give a substantial amount of money to Torry for a music group, surely they could step in and at least save our libraries, a much worthier and useful facility?

Protesters in Aberdeen. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

I would suspect that many more of our citizens are more interested in saving the libraries than the Big Noise music project.

As everyone in government seems keen on number crunching, I would suggest as more people use libraries, then they should be what the money is used for.


Mental health a focus for FM

Sir, – As a coalition of organisations that support vulnerable children and young people, many of whom have mental health problems, we would like to congratulate Humza Yousaf on becoming first minister.

It was, however, disappointing that the issue of mental health featured little in the SNP leadership campaign, but now that he is in office we would urge Mr Yousaf to focus on this vital matter.

As many will be aware, we were already experiencing a mental health emergency in Scotland, even before Covid-19 and the cost-of-living crisis took hold.

Image: Shutterstock

These have worsened an already devastating situation for many children and young people, resulting in a perfect storm of challenges as demand soars.

There is no health without mental health, and already overstretched budgets are having to stretch even further to keep pace with escalating inflation.

In the face of a mental health tsunami, we would urge the Scottish Government to prioritise spending on services, reversing the freeze on this year’s mental health budget and boosting the workforce.

With the resultant personal cost to those concerned and their families, as well as to the economy overall, we need to invest more, not less, in our mental health services, ensuring that our children and young people receive the high-quality care they need when they need it.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition.