IT is like living under siege here, on the Isle of Arran; no one can travel at will between this island and mainland Scotland and in revcent days there has been no bread and only a few vegetables in the shops.

This situation has been going on for years and many of us have needed to travel one or two days in advance of a meeting or longer journey, at a huge expense of hotels. Also, at this time, our business is awaiting re-scheduled visits from a timber rot specialist, the local environmental health inspector, a water purification specialist and an operative to change electricity meters and we will not be the only ones. Many businesses are being held up and put at risk. No deliveries and just the other day no one could find bread to buy.

We were promised new ferries, initially three small, powerful boats that could withstand the sea conditions and manoeuvre in the harbours, also being able to take one for servicing and still have two in operation. That idea was scrapped in favour of two larger ferries with novel technology that caused the shipyard to go bankrupt and which are already several times over their budgeted cost, overdue and are still months from being in service, better scrapped – and there will be further cost in altering the harbour at Ardrossan. All this is taxpayers’ money – yours and mine – and much of it is English taxpayers’ money, sent to Edinburgh by the Treasury and squandered . . . Why have English taxpayers not asked for an explanation as to what has become of their money?

I would like to ask why, unlike south of the Border, no heads have rolled, no one has been sacked, no one has resigned – and no one has pressed for change? No change, no effort.

The problem seems to be that the ferry company, CMAL, is Government-owned, so that responsibility rests with the SNP Cabinet. Although there has been publicity, why has there been no one held responsible and stood down? Resignations should come from the top, perhaps even the First Minister. I fail to understand why people on this island continue to support that party whilst they have to suffer such deprivations and see no change in prospect. And this is only one aspect of this Government’s failures.

Please help us.
John McNab, Brodick

• I READ with some amusement the letter (November 14) from Robbie Drummond, Chief Executive of CalMac, our beleaguered ferry operator on the west coast, and I take issue with his comments that "the biggest operational challenge we face is not reliability, it is a shortfall in capacity".

I wonder where Mr Drummond has been hiding as he further states: "No commercial ferry company would deploy all of their assets all of the time, as this simply leads to burn-out"?

One would think that the chief executive would be pushing for additional tonnage to cover the perceived shortfall by acquiring additional ferries from the second-hand market or by commissioning new replacement vessels in a rolling replacement programme for the outdated fleet as part of his Key Performance Indicators. As most of the fleet is ageing and unreliable, this should have been in progress for many years.

As has been pointed out, the oldest vessel is the Isle of Cumbrae, now 46 years old, and even by CalMac's extended lifespan of 30 years per vessel, should have been replaced in 2006.

Mr Drummond further states: "We are modern, open and professional, with a diverse and deep maritime experience. We are happy to talk to anyone about the real facts of the service, and how it can be improved."

The real facts are that CalMac/CMAL have been using smoke and mirrors for many years, not listening to the communities who want more, not larger vessels with large single hulls, where some of the replaced vessels could be use to cover routes in the event of breakdowns.

It is a great pity that this was not recognised and implemented about 20 years ago. Imagine what kind of fleet could have been operating today.
Allan Halliday, Paisley

Book appeal a joy to read

MY earliest memories go back more than 80 years to my “Wee granny” reading to me, my “Big granny” rarely seen seated without an open book nearby, new books at Christmas, the expectation of a new Arthur Ransome title and, as an only child, the good fortune to have open access to the library of two older children next door. I confess their Chalet School Series by Elinor M Brent-Dyer held special appeal at one stage.

To go on holiday or a long journey without reading material, book or Kindle, would seem an oversight, and nowadays I usually know it’s time to adjust the pillows when I’ve read the last paragraph several times or the book decides it’s had enough and lies down.

So good luck to The Herald’s Christmas Appeal partnership with Scottish Book Trust to help make sure children and families visiting food banks are gifted with a brand new book they may otherwise not receive ("Children deserve to have books to fire their fertile imagination”, The Herald, November 14) .
R Russell Smith, Largs

£500 for a bungalow

JOHN Macnab's nostalgic reflections on household items of yesteryear (Letters, November 12) occasions my comment. My late parents purchased a new semi-detached bungalow in 1932 for under £500 (now valued at over £420,000). Their diary of purchases reveals a pianola (£135), an HMV cabinet-style record player (£30), a mahogany-cased grandfather clock (£100) and a mangle.

In today's values I suspect less than £2,000 would acquire all of the items listed. Such is the hidden cost when moving house demands the disposal of treasured items as surplus to requirement.
Allan C Steele, Giffnock

Stop favouring the rugby elite

MY heart goes out to Richard Allison (Letters, November 15), whose day at Murrayfield was apparently spoiled by rugby lager louts. As a football supporter may I suggest the simple solution would be to treat the rugby elite the same as us and simply ban alcohol outside hospitality areas and concourses. That would be equality, that lovely wee word I read every day that usually means equality for others but not for me.

However, on a positive note, as a former brewery employee of more than 40 years, I would suggest the real issue lies not in alcohol but in crowd control. The lack of police and stewards to enforce the law allows the morons in the crowd to behave the way they do. Many people enjoy a few beers without behaving like morons. They shouldn’t be punished for the behaviour of others.
John Gilligan, Ayr


Letters should not exceed 500 words. We reserve the right to edit submissions.