THERE has been speculation that Andy Murray may finally be near retirement after his illustrious career. Scotland has a problem with punching its weight in a variety of sports, with a real lack of new blood coming through the ranks. Sport in general is good for any society, so I suggest Holyrood (perhaps our politicos could act in tandem for once) should hire Andy Murray to head up a sporting commission to examine where the problem lies.

Is it a lack of funding? Lack of coaching? How do we enthuse kids, and get them out there? No one wants an East German-type scenario, or to step on the toes of existing bodies, but I would suggest these existing bodies are not solving the problem.

Scotland is one of the founders of rugby, but we have been thrashed at under-20 level by Italy, a new boy. Ditto football, where we don’t do well with club or country. Rangers, this year’s best team, were outplayed in two games by Slavia Prague. Rangers have very few of their nationals in their first team, Slavia have more than half. No surprise then, that the Czech Republic beat Scotland at the Euros.

Should public funds go to Scottish teams who show no great commitment to the greater good at national level? Should the football or rugby authorities insist that a minimum number of Scots on the field is a requirement for registration in their leagues? Or do we just grin and bear our humiliations at sport?

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


I NOTE that the Westminster Government is to allocate funds for the legal expenses of house owners of premises affected by unsafe, combustible cladding, despite the fact that the Grenfell inquiry has yet to issue its full findings. These findings may apportion blame on various bodies and regulations, such as developers, contractors, material suppliers, building control officials, building control and fire safety regulations, and in turn will lead to claims and counter claims – a bonanza for many lawyers.

Meantime what progress has been made to ensure that all such affected owners or occupiers can sleep safely and without trepidation of a similar disaster?

Anyone who has had an accident or in obvious danger is looked after initially by government agencies such as the NHS or the police, or the relevant local authority, to assist with prompt and necessary action. In the case of owners or rented occupants of flats with dangerous, flammable cladding the Government’s only responses have been to put up finance for recladding of buildings above 18 metres in height and for legal aid to pursue developers. ( If owners were too quickly off their marks and arranged remedial work, they were excluded from the grants now available.)

Surely the first step should have been to guarantee the grants to owners so that any repair or replacement contracts would be, in effect, underwritten by the Government for prompt action. How many unsafe buildings have been rectified safe since 2017? Have the local authorities issued dangerous building notices to the owners and then helped them to get remedial works under way? Is there enough prompt and necessary repair work being enforced where occupants are sleeping in acknowledged unsafe properties?

The conclusions of the Grenfell inquiry have yet to be prepared and published. Will the Government pursue retribution as well as finance the victims of all found guilty of allowing unsafe cladding or construction?

However, the first priority is for the Government and the local authorities to ensure that the affected properties are made safe as soon as possible – irrespective of who is to blame.

JB Drummond, Kilmarnock.


THE last I heard of the Rest and Be Thankful was that the road surface was being resurfaced. I am sure that this will go a long way towards rectifying the landslip problem and putting it in the history books – aye, right.

I must admit that I have a familial connection with the construction of said roadway, in that my grandfather was employed in its construction when it was an early job creation-type works, through the Crofter Counties Scheme, from 1937 to 1941. I sincerely hope that whatever method is chosen, to either reconstruct/upgrade the existing roadway or re-route it completely, that the powers that be consult A Landslide Handbook – A Guide to Understanding Landslides published by the American and Canadian Governments in 2008. To be honest though, on reading through it, I now fear that no sloping site is safe.

George Dale, Beith.


WHEN you go on radio (or TV), to contribute to a feature, please do not say "Thank you for having me."

It is irritating, unnecessary and wrong. You are doing the broadcaster a favour, demonstrating your experience or expertise and informing the rest of us.

You might be paid – modestly. But, you are probably third or fourth choice for the slot, others unavailable or declining to participate.

Just tell it as you see it and cut the preliminaries. Thanks.

Dr Philip Gaskell, Drymen.

* I DO sympathise with the view of James Martin (Letters, July 9) re female commentators but I suggest that a reading of any of Shelley Kerr’s incisive columns on the back page of Herald Sport could raise a valid counter to this argument.

Willie Ferguson, Irvine.