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YOUR VIEWS: Local issues at heart of election, help the climate and NHS costs

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The Old Milton Inn at Dunbeath bathed in evening sunlight, pictured by John Davidson.
The Old Milton Inn at Dunbeath bathed in evening sunlight, pictured by John Davidson.

Roads and more at stake in vote

I have so far been reluctant to enter the fray on the subject of potholes and Caithness crumbling roads. After all, the state of our much beleaguered planet is a more pressing concern especially since world governments don't give a damn about it!

In the UK that will not change one whit after July 4! By saying this I do not mean to make light of the situation of our woeful roads. I curse them as much as anyone, if you have ever travelled with me you will know this only too well.

Last Saturday afternoon, for the first time in a while, we took a run to John O’Groats. To say the roads around Groats are utterly appalling is a gross understatement – they, like so many other roads in Caithness, are a potholed crumbling death trap. I include the streets of Wick and Thurso in this.

The pleasure of travel used to be in the journey as much as in the anticipated arrival – now it is neither. You arrive battered and frazzled and far from eager to explore the sights… you just want to sit and recover your shredded equilibrium!

We who pay for the damned roads are more than entitled to travel from A to B, C, D or E without incurring car damage or soaring blood pressure.

Let me make it quite clear that I do not blame Highland Council or the Scottish Government for this pitiful state of affairs. The ultimate blame rests at the door of those with the ultimate sanction, the UK government.

The undemocratic first past the post, austerity obsessed (for others not themselves), billionaire funded, billionaire controlled Westminster system! It isn't democracy, it isn't for you or I, it is for the privileged so they can go on enjoying their privileges.

Both Labour and the Tories have their own coterie of obscenely rich donors whose every whim becomes party policy – at a price. Whether it is Chancellor in waiting Rachel Reeves grovelling to the banking elite and telling them their fingerprints are all over her parties economic plans, or John Caldwell, billionaire founder of Phones4U and former Boris Johnson backer telling the BBC he is comfortably behind Keir Starmer's Labour Party now that he (Starmer) has defenestrated his party’s left wing and is wholeheartedly embracing his (Caudwell’s) views on “commercial capitalism”. Ye gods!

It isn’t just our roads, it is our NHS, our councils, our Scottish Government, all deliberately, viciously and continuously underfunded by a government that cares nothing for anyone or anything outside its own circle of friends. This is what happens when you let the government of another country meddle in your economy, especially as that other country is bankrupt and falling apart.

I am not the slightest bit engaged by this general election. It isn’t even a pretence of democracy, it is a sham and a lie that has little relevance to any of us. This is a UK election and the UK political parties have long since given up listening to the people (if they ever did) and listen instead to the rich and powerful in the belief this will in turn make them rich and powerful. And so it goes…

This Tory government that has partied through 14 years of the hell it created can now number its days in single figures but what is coming in its wake from Labour is more of the same. In football parlance the Tories are in such disarray that Starmer has an open goal but will not shoot.

Of all the lies the biggest one is Brexit. Starmer’s mantra is that an incoming Labour government will make Brexit work is a lie of epic proportions. He knows and so now do the people that Brexit will never work, that our economy, our expectations and hope for the future will continue to shrink. Starmer is conning you all.

Here in Scotland we still have democracy in the shape of the SNP and our Scottish Government. We will have no truck with Sunak, Starmer, Farage or any other of the rabid right wingers so beloved by England.

What we have here in Scotland is in every way streets ahead of rUK! If you value it and cherish it, vote SNP on July 4 and keep any political creed that is alien to us out of Scotland.

Drew Macleod

Hill Avenue


Save your money and the planet from impending doom

I see and hear it about every other day – people sitting in their car, the engine is running, but they are going nowhere.

Often they play with their smartphone, wait for somebody who only turns up after any length of time, talk to somebody standing beside their car, or they are just looking at the landscape.

In winter it gets worse. Although there are such aids as windscreen cover, de-icing spray and the trusted ice scraper, these are rarely seen (or heard). Oh, all car windows covered in ice or hoar frost! No problem. Start the engine, set heating and fan to full, then have another cup of coffee.

And then there was the man who topped it all. At seven o’clock on a winter’s morning he started his engine – and what’s more, it was a diesel. After he had not moved for some time, I looked down from my bedroom window and saw – the glow of a cigarette tip! That was it! In order not to set off the smoke alarm in his flat, he got his early-morning nicotine fix in his car while trying to keep his feet warm.

Assuming that my wider neighbourhood is a fair representation of the British public as a whole, I made the following calculation: If only 1 in 10 drivers (licence holders) performs one of the abovementioned bad habits just once a week for 10 to 15 minutes, thereby burning 1 litre of petrol, it adds up to 218 million litres (218,400 cubic metres) per year.

Considering the crude to petrol conversion rate gives 482,300 cubic metres of crude oil which equals the capacity of one ultra-large supertanker. Add to that its fuel consumption for the return sailing round the Cape of Good Hope. Together, it converts to at least 585,000 tons of carbon dioxide which are added to the atmosphere each year.

Although this is only a tiny fraction compared with worldwide emissions, even this small but unnecessary contribution may in the end tip the balance.

Recently, scientists have reiterated one important effect of global warming, namely its influence on the great ocean currents, in particular the Gulf Stream, which ameliorates the climate of the comparatively high latitudes of Scotland (equivalent of Labrador).

Increased melting of polar ice and resulting accumulation of cold fresh water on the sea surface will influence the Gulf Stream. If it changes course, slows or stops altogether – guess who’s getting cold feet then?

Peter Haase

Fairview House


Why I’m voting for Lucy Beattie

A vote for Lucy Beattie and the SNP can bring the much-needed change to this Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross constituency. Having met and listened to her a number of times I have no doubt of her commitment to work hard for the diverse communities she will represent.

There is little doubt the seat will be down to a fight between the SNP and Liberal Democrats. The Liberal Democrats to me represent the same old Conservative values we are so used to from the UK government.

The Liberal Democrats were the party who went into coalition with the Tories in 2010 and voted for austerity measures, breaking their pre-election promises to the voters, leaving integrity behind for a seat in government.

We can expect to see the Labour party taking the majority of seats in England, a party whose values have also slowly become more aligned with those of the Conservatives. The big sell in their manifesto is Great British Energy.

This is yet another plan to sell off energy produced using Scottish renewables to foreign investors to line their pockets and will do nothing to combat fuel poverty or energy security for people in Scotland.

We cannot allow our most valuable resources to be sold off. With independence we can nationalise energy to have a more secure future in which folk aren’t having to choose between eating and heating while multinational companies enjoy record profits year after year at our expense.

A county that is energy rich should not be in the situation where people are enduring some of the highest energy costs and associated fuel poverty during a cost-of-living crisis, caused by Westminster policies. Only with independence can Scotland achieve a fairer, more prosperous country without being held back by draconian decisions made by a self-serving UK government that is far removed from reality.

Let’s pretend for a moment that there was no SNP, no Scottish Government or devolution. We would not have free prescriptions, no free bus travel for under 22 year olds and over 60 year olds, we would be paying tuition fees at university, paying for personal care at home, no extra £25 a week child payment to help those in poverty, no baby boxes, no extra free hours for early learning and childcare.

You or someone you know will benefit from some or all of these policies because of the SNP. Imagine what we could do with full powers devolved as an independent nation.

By voting Lucy Beattie and the SNP on July 4 you can rest assured you will have an MP who will work for this constituency from local to national issues. It will set us on the road to recovery from austerity and a brighter, better, independent future.

Alistair Crawford

George street


Change to Radio Teleswitch Service

Your readers may be interested to hear of an upcoming change to the Radio Teleswitch Service (RTS) used by around 250,000 households and businesses in Scotland to heat their properties.

Ofgem has advised that the technology to support RTS energy meters will be fully decommissioned on June 30, 2025. From July 31, 2025, RTS meters may no longer function properly, causing disruption to heating and hot water supply.

You may use an RTS meter if your property: has a meter that switches between peak and off-peak tariff rates, such as Economy 7 or Economy 10, or a Total Heating Total Control (THTC) tariff; has a meter that automatically turns on your heating or hot water; is heated using electric or storage heaters; or is located in a no-gas supply area (off-grid), especially in rural areas.

Energy infrastructure and regulation is the responsibility of the UK government. However, given the potential impact of this upcoming change, I have written to all major energy suppliers urging them to prioritise properties with RTS connections when progressing their smart meter roll-out programmes.

Energy suppliers should proactively contact consumers using RTS to arrange a replacement smart meter. For those unable to install a smart meter, your supplier should offer you an alternative solution to avoid any service disruption or detriment.

If you have any questions, I encourage you to contact your supplier in the first instance. You can also get free and impartial advice and support from Advice Direct Scotland (0800 028 1456) or Citizens Advice Scotland (0800 028 1456).

Gillian Martin

Minister for Climate Action

Scottish Government

Too little, too late

Scotland's last 10 minutes was how they should have been playing from the start! Passing balls backwards or sideways is not a positive, attacking strategy. Shankland and Forrest should have been on from the start. Well done to the Tartan Army and paws crossed for next time!

Issy Currie



NHS Highland £21m temporary staff costs ‘very worrying’

I can heartily relate to the problems of medical and dental staffing in Caithness. For 31 years I was a medical staffing manager in the NHS. As an exiled Scot, my work was all done in England, but I see some parallels to my experience of finding suitably qualified and experienced staff for hard to fill posts in areas that are perceived as unattractive.

My first post was on the Isle of Wight, which was a lot like Caithness in its non-appeal to M&D staff. I was the first person in the UK to go abroad looking for staff in A&E and neonatal paediatrics, which I did twice in two years in the 1980s. One of my recruits later became my GP!

The most effective way of attracting doctors and dentists is to ensure that there is a thriving community of postgraduate activity – which can be online – for them to tap into. The worst thing is for doctors or dentists to feel cut off from communication with their like-minded colleagues.

I'm afraid that while the NHS is funded in the way it is, there is little hope of a consultant-based service, which would be the gold standard. It is impossible to do more activity with less money year on year.

Anne Brodie

Mid Clyth

Camster II wind turbine parts transported through Wick

Why can’t the developers tell us exactly when these turbine parts will be travelling through? They must know. Or is it a spur of the moment decision each time? People need to be prepared for a delayed journey.

Brenda Herrick


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