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YOUR VIEWS: Don’t throw baby out with the bath water for short term lettings

By Gavin Musgrove

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Holyrood vote has backed licensing of lets.
Holyrood vote has backed licensing of lets.

So short term let licensing (and in the strath and Edinburgh with further requirement for planning consent) is going ahead.

All operators must apply for licence plus planning consent by October 1 and since planning refusal means automatic licence refusal and all planning applications are stuck awaiting ‘legal advice’ as to what planning can or cannot do, all operators have to pay fees for licences with nobody knowing chances of obtaining grant.

Personally I am okay with the requirement for licence – it’s planning that is the worry because a presumption against use of any residential for holiday let could decimate our local industry.

I can only hope common sense prevails. The clamour for removal is around the use of residential for holiday let when it could be being used as affordable housing or employee housing. Undoubtedly a valid aim.

But what about the holiday homes that can’t help with that concern? We have a long history in this part of the world of homes available for family holidays for our fellow Scot and further afield.

There are concerns that the council in effect bans by blanket refusal instead of actually assessing on a case by case basis – it is easy to pay lip service to ‘case by case’ but every case in Edinburgh is currently being refused.

On a true case by case basis there will be holiday homes that are suitable for affordable but what about holiday home worth and of a size and location not suitable for affordable?

Surely they will be granted?

I rather fear with the fervour of those opposing we will have in effect a ban imposed with all the damage to our local economy that will occasion

I can only make a plea – don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Families need some where to stay, our local businesses need their custom, other forms of holiday accommodation can’t provide what families require and if we don’t offer, the areas outwith the controlled areas will and Badenoch and Strathspey will suffer

Let’s be true to the words of our local Highland councillors and ‘manage STLs’, ‘manage’ is not consistent with ‘destruction’.

Gordon Thomson


* * *

A lack of ‘oomph’

IT was with horror that I read in the Strathy that someone had suggested simply demolishing the Carngorm Mountain Railway rather than re-establishing one of the major sources of pleasure and attractions in the strath.

The very similar mountain railway in Switzerland, between Lauterbrunnen and Gruetschalp in the Bernese Oberland, developed very similar faults a few years ago.

The Swiss replaced the railway with an excellent cable car within five months – no financial messing around – and the tourist attraction and local connections were restored.

Now in Scotland we have the wearisome delays, poor organisation, rocketing costs and sheer waste of the Ferguson yard’s ferries on Clydeside.

Is that an indication of shameful deterioration in Scotland’s reputation for reliable, expert industrial insight and ‘oomph’ which in former times were such a source of justified and proud confidence?

Restoration of the funicular goes hand-in-hand with successful completion of the ferries if a rebuilding Scottish recovery is to be achieved after a sad period of largely self-imposed decline.

Charles Wardrop


* * *

Offer of help for Feshie crossing

Timber allocated for the crossing at Glenfeshie which has never been used.
Timber allocated for the crossing at Glenfeshie which has never been used.

I REFER to the recent letter by Angus Tulloch and his reference to the willingness of Anders Povlsen to contribute to the reinstatement of the Upper Glen Feshie footbridge which was swept away during past floods.

If my memory serves me correctly, the intention to replace the bridge was made by the landowner a number of years ago by the provision of the timber materials for the project.

I regret I cannot remember precisely who the landowner was at the time but comment was made in the Strathy about the proposal.

I believe that a photograph of the materials was shown residing at a location near to the bridge site.

Regrettably, I believe the appropriate permissions for construction were not forthcoming from the Cairngorms National Park Authority, consequently the project went no further.

Perhaps your correspondents or archivist could remind us of the proposals at that time and the precise reasons the project stalled. The materials still lie in the same position, slowly being consumed by the surrounding vegetation, and sadly rotting away. What a waste.

Gordon Dow

Netherby Road


* * *

Missing the good old days when Grantown was flourishing town

Walkers of Grantown... one o f the High Street's casualties.
Walkers of Grantown... one o f the High Street's casualties.

Watching the news recently, the main story was the closing of 400 Wilko stores in the UK. It got me thinking of how different Grantown was years ago.

I spent 14 happy years working in the Strathy Office. In those days, the office was in the building behind the Royal Bank of Scotland (I’m Showing my age now!).

There were four banks: The Royal Bank of Scotland, the Aberdeen Savings Bank (which changed to TSB), the Bank of Scotland and Morlich House, in the Square, was once the Clydesdale Bank.

We were spoilt for choice, there were six draper shops: Bertie Grant’s, Byers and Smith, Mackenzie’s, Mackintosh and Cumming, Sandy Dick’s and Scottish Productions, all on the High Street. There was also a drapery department in the Co-op in the Square.

Speyside Sports, on the High Street, catered for all sports and all ages, with Mrs Katherine Sutton and her son Ewan in charge.

There were two shoe shops: the DE and Jean Paterson, affectionately known as ‘Jeannie Pat’. Both were on the High Street and catered for all tastes.

Campbell, the fish shop, on the High Street, with a good selection of fresh fish.

Two cafes: the ‘Bottom Cafe’ as it was known, on the High Street and the Spey Cafeteria in the Square, were popular with all ages.

Two electrical shops: The Hydro Electric in the Square and Clydesdale on the High Street. The Picturehouse, in The Square (now the RBL Clubrooms), showed a good variety of films to suit all ages. Sadly, we lost Walkers the baker, after 63 years on the High Street.

Another big miss in Grantown is Waterford Hotel, which held dances or discos on Fridays and Saturdays, popular with all ages.

When I was young, several of the older generation would often talk about ‘the good old days’.

I didn’t think too much about it then. Looking back now, at the way it was in Grantown, that really is a true saying.

Sandra Irvine,

Nethy Bridge.

* * *

‘Misrepresenting my letters in the Strathy’

Charles Wardrop (Strathy letters, September 7) accuses me in my letter (August 31 ) about wind turbines of considering only ‘the carbon dioxide (CO2) released in their manufacture’.

This is clearly false from even a cursory reading of that letter and of my reply to him of May 4.

I wrote in those letters about their lifecycle carbon footprint: that is from manufacture, through installation and maintenance to decommissioning and waste disposal. That footprint includes the materials for manufacture and installation, maintenance, demolition and waste disposal.

The evidence I offered shows that this lifecycle carbon footprint is less than 2.5 per cent of comparable footprint for natural gas generation of electricity.

My letter of August 31 was about Charles’ repetition without evidence. It said that ‘opinions do not ascend through unsupported repetition into facts’, and in the face of contrary evidence suggest misinformation.

His latest letter (September 7) again repeats his claims about wind turbines, still without evidence.

Today I add my request that Charles does not misrepresent my letters.

Dermot Williamson


* * *

‘Cairngorms carpers’ jibe was out of order

I AM thoroughly annoyed and disgusted by the comments of Fergus Ewing in his recent response to Highlands and Islands Enterprise’s out of court settlement.

I assume that I am one of those ‘Cairngorm carpers’ he is referring to as I live outwith the area and have written numerous blogs for Parkswatch Scotland about the mountain business.

I learned to ski at Cairngorm in 1964 and worked there at weekends allowing me a free lift pass. I was employed there in the 1975 winter season and I can tell you that Bob Clyde & Co would never have put up with the ridiculous limited opening hours, poor uplift and snowsports enthusiast numbers – 32,000 customers this past season!

We would have cleared that number in a good week.

If Mr Ewing thinks that this is a healthy business with a sustainable future then he is sadly mistaken. HIE funding of £2m to £3m per annum for the next 30 plus years proves that.

The £11m in the award from the legal challenge will probably be sucked up in even more repairs until someone somewhere has the gumption to say enough is enough.

Change is needed now. Remove the funicular before it breaks down again, put in proper uplift and then we will see positive comments about what used to be the UK’s number one ski destination. Maybe it is HIE and Mr Ewing who should pack your bags and return the mountain business to people who can restore it to its former glory.

There also needs to be a judge-led inquiry into this whole sorry state of affairs.

Graham Garfoot


* * *

Rethink needed on damaging decision for young musicians

Tutors and pupils outside Aviemore Primary School which has been the long-time venue for Feis Spe.
Tutors and pupils outside Aviemore Primary School which has been the long-time venue for Feis Spe.

I AM writing to express my disappointment and concern over the difficulties for the annual Feis Spe week at Aviemore Community Centre by Highland Council’s lets department.

As I understand the reason given is that the school is not on the list of those available to let. This information was only imparted recently.

The festival involving over 90 children has taken place successfully for the past 11 years and is part of the burgeoning Scottish music scene, with many of the children involved going on to prestigious music schools and providing live music throughout the strath and beyond.

This is an opportunity to further the talents of young people, giving them the chance to learn from respected professional artists and tutors. Although Kingussie High School was offered as an alternative this is patently not suitable for the five to 10 year age group. Plus the following week was offered when parents had arranged their holidays to suit, and many professional tutors were not available.

Aviemore is a suitable location being an equal distance for parents to travel from both ends. Having used the centre previously for Strathfest (we even paid for the piano to be tuned) it is an ideal location for all activities.

After all it is a ‘community centre’ and I presume children and parents fall under that logo.

Surely it is not beyond the council to solve this impasse. They have High Life Highland staff on site and parents and volunteers are happy to oversee and take responsibility.

Many are ex-teachers and professionals. Likewise, with budgets being cut then the loss of hiring income to the council must surely be taken into consideration.

This is a huge blow to the credibility of the council and a huge blow to the artistic future of our children.

The future looks dim for a society when the arts are side-lined in this petty way.

Mary-Ann Connolly

Chairperson (retired) Strathfest


* * *

Hugh Dan signed off in style at final game

I DO not speak Gaelic, have never visited a live shinty match but for the last year or two, when I first heard Hugh Dan Maclennan commentating on BBC Alba, I have followed every match that I can access on TV.

But I can honestly say that Hugh Dan’s commentary was the best part of watching the game.

I doubt if I would have continued to follow the game without his presence.

Saturday’s Camanachd Cup Final match and his commentary was a fine way to end a career but I am sure that he will be missed by all who follow the game.

Thank you too to Gary Innes as his enjoyment at being alongside Hugh Dan was an added bonus.

I must mention that I support Kingussie and on a visit to Scotland in July, I was outvoted by she who must be obeyed as a trip on the Jacobite took presence over a stopover in the town.

With best wishes to Hugh Dan and his wife for a long and happy retirement.

Chris Miller


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