Sir, – I have always found Dundonians to be a compassionate people, so was shocked and saddened to see an elderly man encouraging a young boy, approximately five years old, to throw snowballs at a swan in Broughty Ferry on Saturday.
Throughout this ordeal the swan was struggling in the wild waters during the recent poor weather.
The swan is a Ferry regular, usually along the Beach Crescent area, and is unable to fly.
It’s a female of about eight years. I know this because of the records from when she was ringed.
Because she can’t fly it is unlikely she will be accepted into the larger groups of swans often seen around the Tay, or ever have another mate.
Lots of people take pity on her situation and feed her, myself included.
I have never seen anyone be cruel toward her. It’s the adult who should be ashamed, although any five-year-old I have known has understood that humans should not be cruel to animals.
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 it is a criminal offence to injure a wild bird and the SSPCA and the Scottish Wildlife Trust regularly check on the swan.
Anyone who thinks they can treat animals in this shameful way beware – you may be being watched.
If you like to feed swans it is better to give them things like shredded lettuce, or sweetcorn (the tinned sort), finely chopped carrots and other types of vegetable.
Bread is not very good for them.
23 Ramsay Street,
Time to focus on the key issues
Sir, – Last week we had a very unacceptable statement from the First Minister, threatening to bring in legislation to keep some types of HGVs off the roads in bad weather after some had dared to make journeys when there was snow on the ground and more still falling.
The Scottish Government, Transport Scotland and BEAR Scotland all had clear warnings from the Met Office of what was coming and when it was coming, but still failed to keep major routes open despite the assertions from the transport minister that they had all the resources they needed.
Obviously, they did not manage these resources properly or we wouldn’t have had up to 1,000 vehicles stuck overnight on the M8.
As for using legislative powers to ban some HGVs from our roads, this is a bit rich coming from the First Minister when she doesn’t even drive herself and has the luxury of a salary being paid into her bank account whether she is at work or not.
Spare a moment to consider all the self-employed delivery drivers, hourly paid delivery drivers and those operating in a franchise who only get paid when they are working.
There are many others who could not get to their places of work last week due to the inadequacies of this government and have suffered a financial penalty as a result.
Many delivery drivers operate with a tachograph and have to adhere to the strict rules governing the number of consecutive hours they are permitted to drive before taking a break.
This puts pressure on the drivers and the haulage industry but has been accepted on the grounds of road safety.
Any further restrictive legislation would only force up the cost of transport and impact on virtually everything in our shops.
The Scottish Government needs to get a focus on those issues that they are responsible for delivering (no pun intended) and start ensuring the efficient execution of their duties and those of the various agencies they control.
And before some ardent nationalist starts blaming Westminster, these are devolved matters that have been fully funded but just mismanaged by their inadequate leaders in Holyrood.
Panic buying was shameful
Sir, – Over the last week, with the extreme weather hitting Scotland, we have seen the best of community spirit at times but we have also seen a negative side, with people ravaging the supermarket shelves of essential items like bread and milk, leaving vulnerable and elderly people severely disadvantaged.
It is grossly irresponsible for people to overbuy and leave shelves empty.
How much of that food would be wasted and how much bread and milk does one family or person actually need ?
But supermarkets need to take responsibility and in situations like this happening again, a ration should be placed on how much milk and bread people are allowed to buy, so that everyone has a chance to get these essential items.
117 Simpson Square,
Thank goodness for farmers
Sir, – Here in the East Neuk of Fife, we have not seen a council snow plough or gritting lorry for all of the past week of snow and freezing weather, filling local roads with drifts.
Were it not for local farmers coming out to clear roads, our villages would have been entirely cut off for days.
It is high time Fife Council woke up to the fact it is responsible for ALL of Fife… not just the larger towns.
Electric car capabilities?
Sir, – The present weather raises questions about electric cars.
Could a night be spent on a snowbound motorway – with the heater on – in an electric car?
Would an electric snowplough be as effective as a diesel one? Would an electric police car be able to stay on patrol for 24 hours?
Before we abandon conventional vehicles that work well, the electric enthusiasts might like to comment?
Speech was a shocker
Sir, – Theresa May’s Brexit speech was one of the worst ever given by a British Prime Minister.
Despite the conciliatory tone Mrs May failed to give any substance to an actual negotiating position as asked for by the commission.
On the question of the Irish border she has two positions.
She appealed for a solution that meant no “hard border” in Ireland.
She then said it would be unacceptable to break up the UK’s own single market by creating a regulatory border along the Irish sea.
She then alienated the “hard Brexit” faction of her party by conceding that the UK will still have to abide by judgments from the European Court of Justice.
Her delusional wishlist has clashed with reality. All of the players from the commission to the CBI gave her the short sharp shrift.
Mrs May has backed herself into a crisis of her own making.
She can’t accept a customs union because the hard right of her party will remove her.
However she can’t allow a situation where financial services in London lose passporting rights to EU markets. She is also bound by the DUP.
Mrs May’s indecisiveness and weakness means the spectre of “no deal” crops up.
The spin then will seek to blame everyone else other than those who are actually responsible, ie the Tories.
2 Gillespie Terrace,
Idea is a bridge too far for now
Sir, – The BBC reported the Scottish Government is discussing the idea of a bridge linking Scotland with Northern Ireland.
A combined road and rail bridge, like that connecting Denmark and Sweden, is estimated to cost £15-£20 billion.
One day, there may well be a justification to consider these more ambitious connections.
Right now, the same government is seriously dragging its heels about reopening a mere five miles of existing but mothballed railway line to reconnect Levenmouth and its catchment of 48,000 with the national rail network.
The cost of this reconnection is no more than £50 million, in other words much less than 0.05% of the Irish bridge.
If our transport authorities cannot ensure necessary improvements in their own backyard in central Scotland, leaving large settlements like Levenmouth out on limb, then flying kites about grandiose bridges appears either delusional or grandstanding.