AS a young civil engineer in the mid 1960s I worked on road design in the vicinity of the Rest and be Thankful. We knew then that the hillsides were what we called “oversteep” but we were told to ignore it and get on with the job. Around the same time I recall driving up the old road in darkness because the main road was closed. Water, mud and stones poured down from above. As a now well retired civil engineer I look back and shake my head, wondering what has happened in the intervening period. Little has changed.

The whole affair is an affront to civil engineering, which could solve the problem easily with well-tried methods. Every time I go skiing in the Alps I look at the structures with a wall on the hill side of the road; a roof over the road and open to the other side. Avalanches and landslips slide harmlessly over the top. They have been there for decades and work perfectly. It is an embarrassment to see today ("Helicopter clears up as 100 tons of debris hits A83", The Herald August 7) a helicopter washing down the Rest and be Thankful hillside with water to dislodge a boulder. Our continental friends would laugh at our amateur antics.

The solution is not a technical problem, but simply one of money. The controllers of the purse strings in Edinburgh seem to know nothing of the geography of the west. In the East of Scotland a road closure is a minor inconvenience whereas in the west, with few alternative routes, it leads to delays with serious consequences.

The diversion inconvenience is one thing, but what is going to happen when a car is swept over the side and the occupants killed? Given the present frequency of landslips this scenario is not a question of if, but when. It is inevitable. Surely somebody, somewhere is going to end this problem before lives are lost.

John Carmichael, Dundee DD5.

I HAVE watched, once again, the depressing spectacle of the A83 being blocked for the umpteenth time, due to a landslide, thanks to falling debris, on the Rest And Be Thankful, near Arrochar ("It’s the pits... Anger at £80m ‘wasted’ on failed fixes to the Rest And Be Thankful", The Herald, August 6).

This is despite the Scottish Government investing £80 million in drainage schemes and refurbishment of the old road through the area. All of these projects have proven to be useless.

It is time to take a different tack. In recent years, the Scottish Government, and other bodies, have commissioned studies which show that a fixed link, probably a bridge, between Gourock and Dunoon, could be constructed at manageable cost.

Not only would this provide a fixed, quick, alternative route between the Central Belt of Scotland (and in particular the airports), but would power the economy of the Cowal Peninsula. Less than 30 miles from Glasgow, the economy and society of that part of Scotland would be transformed by this radical improvement in communications.

I am sure that instead of wasting money, as at present, such an investment would attain several goals simultaneously.

Niels Gray, Bearsden.


WITH reference Dr Hamish Maclaren's letter (August 5) I would like to recount our recent experiences of trying to get an appointment with a GP at our local practice in Glasgow Southside.

Approximately seven weeks ago my husband attempted, by telephone, to get an appointment with one of our practice's GPs, to discuss increasingly severe pain in his neck and shoulders. He was told he had to go on to the practice's website to give details of his ailment and symptoms.

He did this, and was shortly afterwards informed that he had an appointment for the following week. This turned out to be with a nurse who took blood. He was then asked to return a week later for more blood to be taken by the same nurse.

After four weeks when we had heard nothing we attempted yet again to get a face-to-face appointment with a GP. Again we were told by the receptionist that we had to go online to request this. This proved fruitless – all we could access was a request for a video consultation or an online consultation.

We phoned the surgery again and explained the situation. The receptionist told us that a doctor would phone us shortly and arrange an appointment.

We did receive a phone call – not, as we found out later, from a doctor, but from a senior nurse practitioner who said he would arrange for a new prescription to manage my husband's pain and said that a face-to-face consultation was not possible.

As far as getting any proper analysis of my husband's condition/severe pain or his blood results, this did not happen.

So despite all of the hassle there has been no face-to-face appointment with a GP, no physical examination of my husband with regard to the severe pain he is experiencing and no further suggestions of treatment other than to keep taking the pain medication .

Though health is devolved in Scotland, sadly it looks as if Matt Hancock's announcement that in the new Covid age GP consultations will be remote is already gaining a foothold here.

Maureen Hutchison, Glasgow G41.


FOLLOWING the recent torrential and unremitting rain, I expected the Scottish Government to issue a modified mantra: Stay home – move upstairs – build a boat.

Angus MacDonald, Troon.