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YOUR VIEWS: Driving licence plea, changing rooms idea, pylon debate and airships concern

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YOUR CAITHNESS: The Pilot House and Seafarers’ Monument in Wick, pictured by Gavin Russell.
YOUR CAITHNESS: The Pilot House and Seafarers’ Monument in Wick, pictured by Gavin Russell.

Scrap discriminatory driving licence rule

Fifty years ago, the Road Traffic Act 1974 was amended and one important change was that the customary triennial renewal of driving licences was scrapped because of the ever-increasing administrative burden.

Westminster decreed, however, that this should not apply to licence holders 70 years and older. No particular reason was given, no relevant accident statistics were presented – it was simply assumed that senior citizens were potentially unfit to drive a motor vehicle.

Why didn’t anybody complain at the time? Because these were the 1970s when things like forced adoption, criminal prosecution of homosexuals, and corporal punishment in schools were still considered politically correct.

Initially, the imposed age limit concerned only few people; those turning 70 in the early 1970s were born around the turn of the 19th/20th century – few of these held a driving licence. Which begs the question why it was deemed necessary to introduce particular legislation for a relatively small number of people? Perhaps it was just administration for administration’s sake?

However, those initial numbers increased rapidly after the 1970s and continue rising today. According to DVLA (February 2024) almost 6.2 million people older than 70 currently hold a full driving licence which is due for renewal every three years.

At 252 working days per year, this gives a figure of more than 8190 applications to be processed every day just for the over 70s’ renewals! Although most applications are today filed online, these still have to be individually checked and approved – what a waste of human resources and taxpayers’ money.

To apply for renewal, you enter your personal details and tick a number of boxes concerning potential health issues, most of which are unrelated to age. Your answers are based on honesty. The rule that you can only drive a motor vehicle if you are physically and mentally fit to do so is already a legal requirement, so why the extra legislation for older drivers?

With the passing of the Equality Act 2010, which also refers to age discrimination, the relevant section of the Road Traffic Act should have been amended accordingly, but apparently nobody noticed or cared about the discrepancy.

Fifty years after the amendment of 1974 it is about time to scrap the relevant discriminatory passage.

Peter Haase

Fairview House


Time for change at changing rooms?

It is great to read in the Groat there will be money for a new Thurso High School. Might one ask after knocking down the old games hall changing rooms, should the new changing rooms be two storey?

Since the Wick and Thurso schools were built some years ago they have always lacked one thing – space to accommodate participants/spectators (competitors that are in between games) as there is no place for them to go when any bigger competitions are being run.

I, like many other leaders and event organisers, have on many occasions wondered what would be the simplest and most cost-effective remedy.

I keep coming back to a second level, that would elevate the lack of space problem, create a viewing facility by cutting through the wall, enhancing participation and involvement, a seating area with tables and chairs, extra changing room facilities, indoor space where competitors can relax and eat food, rather than be forced to go outside on a cold and wet winter’s day when the condensation is running down the walls.

There are many other options for this extra space like a meeting/training room for smaller organisations.

Please, if you feel the same as I do, now is the time for change, our one opportunity. So, contact your councillors and MPs asap as it is they that have the say and can make it happen, not I.

Don Forbes,

The Terrace,


Quiz fundraiser

On behalf of the Marie Curie Care Wick Fundraising Group, I would like to thank everyone who participated in our recent European cities quiz.

We raised the significant sum of £276 and a large number of quiz entries were submitted. Thanks also to our committee members and local businesses who sold copies of the quiz. It’s all much appreciated.

Congratulations to our winner, Mr D Douglas!

Barbara Nicol, secretary

Thurso Road


Energy debate leads to concern

I am writing to express my disappointment and concern over the recent events at Holyrood regarding the debate on new energy infrastructure in the Highlands.

Having attended the session, I observed a distressing lack of commitment and engagement from many of our elected representatives.

It was disheartening to witness the chamber emptying of MSPs following First Ministers’ Questions, leaving the debate on such a critical issue largely unattended. Shame on them – it proves just how unimportant the concerns and voice of their constituents means to them, we matter not.

This absence of support from our MSPs and MPs raises serious questions about where their priorities and dedication lie, it’s certainly not with their constituents. It appears that a taxpayer subsidised lunch held more appeal to some than addressing the livelihoods and homes of those they represent.

The reluctance of our elected officials to engage meaningfully with discussions on the SSEN invasion and industrialisation of the Highlands is alarming. It begs the question: why are they avoiding these crucial conversations? Are they perhaps cowed by the formidable influence of the UK government? We must demand better from those we entrust to represent us, we cannot elect those who continue to be silenced by the UK government.

From my vantage point in the gallery, it was evident that only a minority of MSPs, from Conservative seats, demonstrated genuine support and a willingness to advocate for their constituents. Meanwhile, the responses and usual scripted waffle from the Minister for Energy, Just Transition and fair work, Gillian Martin, appeared out of touch with the depth of public concern, merely deflecting blame onto Westminster and urging engagement with SSEN. What a joke.

The Green party’s contribution, unfortunately, fell short of highlighting a concerning detachment from reality. As citizens we deserve representatives who are not only present but also actively champion our interests.

The overwhelming display of solidarity from Highland protesters underscores the urgent need for a thorough, independent assessment of proposed projects and a re-evaluation of policies to safeguard Scotland from further corporate exploitation. We must demand accountability and transparency in decision-making processes that impact our communities and environment.

The call for an extensive debate on energy infrastructure and wind development is a step in the right direction, but actions must follow words. We cannot afford to prioritise short-term goals over the long-term well-being of our nation.

In chasing the elusive target of net zero, the SNP resemble a cat futilely pursuing a beam of torchlight. The real beneficiaries of this pursuit are the greedy multi corporate energy and investment companies, while the interests of the people are side-lined.

As we look ahead, it is imperative that we hold our elected officials accountable and demand better representation. In conclusion, it is time for the concerns of their constituents to take priority over their own agendas. We deserve representatives who will champion our interests and ensure that Scotland’s future and the future of the next generation is shaped by the voices of the people.

The Dunbeath/Berriedale Community Say NO to PYLONS Action Group

Let’s move!

Moving regularly and being active is important to nurture and protect good mental health but many of us are not moving enough.

That’s why “Movement: moving more for our mental health” is the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week which is taking place from May 13 to 19.

We know that it can be difficult to be physically active when you’re busy with work, childcare or caring responsibilities. We know it can be tougher still if you’re living with a long-term health condition or struggling financially. That’s why we’re sharing information and advice throughout the week to help people move more for their mental health.

People are invited to find their #MomentsForMovement and talk about how it makes them feel.

Whether it’s dancing around your living room to your favourite music, doing chair exercises while watching television, or going for a walk in your local park, it all counts, and the Mental Health Foundation want to hear about it!

We invite your readers to share what they’re doing and tag the Mental Health Foundation to be part of the #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek conversation.

Julie Cameron

Associate director for Scotland

Mental Health Foundation

West Nile Street, Glasgow

Airships can’t cope with high winds

Ref: Airships ‘can help access to services’ JOGJ May 1, 2024 – I would like to see the Airlander 10 become a success, however I doubt that it can ever be a success, especially in the Highlands.

The Highland region is perhaps the windiest in the kingdom. Trains and buses are not measurably affected by wind speed. Commercial aircraft are affected but their own speed is high in comparison with the highest wind speeds. The Airlander 10 will be very much affected by wind speed.

Information extracted from Wikipedia, “Hybrid Air Vehicles Airlander 10”: Cruise speed 63mph. Maximum speed 81mph. Originally built for USA army as Long Endurance Multi-intellegence Vehicle (LEMV). Maiden flight 2012. Cancelled 2013.

The airship was brought to Cardington Airfield in England and modified for civilian use. In 2017 it became loose from its moorings in a high wind and was written off.

This indicates that in high wind conditions it must be kept in a huge hanger.

Information extracted from Wikipedia “Airships”: A practical speed limit is reached around 80 to 100mph. Thus airships are used where speed is not critical.

John Campbell



Help stop child abuse with day of action

Half a million children a year suffer abuse in the UK. This can’t go on. Together, we can stop child abuse and that’s why we created Childhood Day.

This year the UK-wide flagship day of fundraising and action takes place on Friday, June 7. We are inviting organisations, schools, families, friends, and people of all ages to participate in the Childhood Day Mile – a fun way to move a mile and raise vital funds to help keep children safe.

Why not embrace your inner child and raise money by moving a mile. Whether you walk it, cycle it, swim it, or bounce it – the possibilities are endless. And if June 7 is inconvenient, you can move a mile on another day.

You can take part on your own, with friends, family, colleagues, or furry friends. The Childhood Day Mile is for everyone.

In addition, we will be out in locations across Scotland for bucket collections. If you see us and have some spare change, please give what you can.

There will be collections at locations including outside Murrayfield Stadium before the Taylor Swift concert (June 8), Glasgow City Centre with Rock Choir (June 1 and 7), Edinburgh Waverley Station (May 30), Glasgow Central Station (June 13), Xsite Braehead (May 31), St Nicholas Street Aberdeen (May 31), and more.

NSPCC Scotland also needs volunteers to support us at these events. If you could spare some time, even for a few hours, we would be so grateful.

Volunteers who register to help with street collections will be provided with everything they need, including an NSPCC T-shirt, and our collection leads will be on hand to guide you.

To volunteer to help with our fundraising team, or to sign up for the Childhood Day Mile, go to www.nspcc.org.uk and search ‘Childhood Day’.

Fiona Milne

NSPCC Scotland Fundraiser

Listen to rural Scotland

If our new First Minister John Swinney says: “I want to be the first minister for everyone in Scotland, I deeply mean that”, then it is high time that he starts listening to the population of rural Scotland.

Most of us are very unhappy about how our Scotland gets destroyed by the wind industry.

Kathrin Haltiner




Turbine storage site proposed in Thurso

What bright spark thought up having a new industrial estate in a town! And who is actually allowing this? What are our councillors saying? If this has to go ahead then it should be out at Forss where someone seems keen on wind farms, I believe.

John Dunnett


Highland politicians voice ‘concern’ over continued closure of Far North Line railway station at Altnabreac

I am waiting patiently to travel back to my place of piece and sanctuary. I only found this gem of a station and the outstanding beauty and peacefulness in 2020 and am desperate to come back once the station is reopened. Any updates would be very helpful. Come on, reopen this station...please.

Rob Foster


North Highland NHS nurse up for Royal College of Nursing’s Scotland Nurse of the Year Award in Edinburgh

Sharon Sutherland thoroughly deserves the title Nurse of the Year. Sharon is exceptional in her knowledge and experience of Parkinson’s. Her kindness and professionalism. Sharon has been my Parkinson’s Nurse since I was diagnosed in 2012 and I could not have had a better person. Honest, trustworthy, friendly and helpful, Sharon does the NHS proud and they are very, very lucky to have her. I wish her well on May 23.

Alison Power


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