It seems as if every day there is another story in the press of a failing Scotland.

Health, education, and the justice services are all in meltdown. Police Scotland, a flagship policy of a new SNP Scottish government, was rushed into being without careful consideration and planning, is disintegrating before our eyes. The most recent survey of police staff is especially worrying with a third planning to leave in the next couple of years.

One common theme of all these beleaguered services is the lack of forward thinking and planning especially in the area of training. The number of training places for nurses, GPs, dentists and teachers have been cut with the inevitable consequence of dwindling capacity leading to crisis within these services.

The Scottish government this year has yet again under spent by a massive £350 million pounds, while blaming all the faults on ‘Westminister’ for starving them of money.

If the Scottish government cannot effectively spend all of an allocated budget what hope is there for us when they have responsibility for both raising and spending?

Perhaps if Nicola Sturgeon concentrated on Scotland rather than seeing herself as an international mediator, we would not be in this mess.

Ursula Craig via email Another typical story of the ruthless oppression of the Christians and Muslims of occupied Palestine. The chief of police in the Nablus district and his three-year-old daughter were injured after being shot by Israeli forces with rubber-coated bullets on Friday during a raid in the village of Kafr Qaddum in Qalqiliya.

When the police chief tried to take his little girl to the hospital in his car, Israeli forces opened fire, injuring him in the head.

A weekly average of 39 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli forces since the start of 2015. The majority of injuries sustained by Palestinains occur during unarmed demonstrations.

Residents of Kafr Qaddum carry out weekly demonstrations in protest of the now 13-year closure of the main street out of the village, which leads to nearby Nablus — the area’s economical hub.

Kafr Qaddum has also lost large swathes of its land to Israeli settlements, outposts and the separation wall, all illegal under international law. As usual the criminal activities of Israel are not reported in the west.

B McKenna Overtoun Ave, Dumbarton This letter is to say thank you to the driver of a BMW Z4 who I came across on my way to work. I really appreciate you using your horn for no other reason than to complain that I was using the main road and not the cycle path that parallels the main road. This was confirmed by the abuse I received from her car window as she turned up the hill.

Most mornings I cycle from Helensburgh train station to Faslane and use the cycle path for the whole route. I would like to thank A&B council for a reasonable cycle path and for the recent re-laying of tarmac on the main road along the sea front.

The bike I ride on my commute is a mountain bike with off-road tyres.

As I have said the cycle path from Helensburgh to Faslane is suitable in parts for all bikes, some of it is footpaths and some are roads that aren’t maintained to the same standard as the main road. Like I have said it is suitable for all bikes in parts but in some parts it is not suitable for road bikes with thin tyres that travel at much higher speeds and therefore not suitable for footpaths.

It is for this reason that on the day in question I was using the main road as I was on my road bike on out and back training ride to my home in Cardross.

The majority of drivers are exceptionally considerate and give lots of room and on the whole are patient.

To the minority who are not patient and believe it is acceptable that the road is the place to vent their anger at being slowed down by 30 seconds.

I have as much right to be using the road as you, I pay road tax and would pay bike tax to improve the cycle network that was suitable for all bikes, if there was such a thing.

Please consider that your actions could endanger me and my fellow cyclists and the next time you beep your horn or don’t pass safely it could lead to killing someone, an action you will live with and punish yourself forever for.

Angry Cardross cyclist via email I saw a cloud bow over Ben Bouie after nightshift when I neared the top on the way over from Alexandria, and I thought you may able to use this as a small article.

As I have never seen one from the ground before and was quite stunned by the beauty of it.

A bow like the rainbow, formed in cloud droplets. As cloud droplets are much smaller than raindrops, the spectral colours of the white light have a much larger range of exit angles from a droplet, and as a result, the colours overlap so a white bow is produced. The cloud bow is often visible from an airplane flying over a sunlit cloud deck. Sometimes, especially during sunrise or sunset, the cloud bow is visible to an earth-bound observer. It may then appear in altocumulus or stratocumulus clouds on which the sun shines from below and on the edges. With low sun elevations, the cloud bow is usually coloured red, because the sunlight is reddened by atmospheric scattering.

Robert O’Neill via email I was disappointed to read your article in last week’s paper on fostering in West Dunbartonshire, under the headline ‘Foster kids forced to move too often’.

Statistics never tell the whole story and are actually meaningless unless you understand the story which lies behind the numbers.

Of the 110 children who were in foster care in West Dunbartonshire from April 2014 to March 2015 just 20 moved home on two occasions. Of these 20, many of the moves involved a child leaving a temporary placement to go to a long-term foster home, or a permanent adoptive family.

Most informed observers would understand that this was a positive outcome for these children, not a negative change. In the past two years we have successfully placed 39 children in either an adoption placement (27) or permanent fostering placement (12) which will meet these children’s needs in the long-term. This is a result of our professional staff making timely and appropriate decisions in the best interests of children. From bench-marking with other areas we know that this performance far outstrips other areas in concluding the care arrangements for children.

This council believes it is so important to provide loving homes for children and young people in West Dunbartonshire, and our pro-active approach is helping to do just that. We will continue to take decisions that improve the outcomes for our vulnerable children and young people and evidence the benefits that accrue to them over time.

Jackie Irvine Chief Social Work Officer West Dunbartonshire Council Every year, around 40 million pheasants are intensively reared to be released for shooting … and the four-month killing season started this week. Gun lobby spokespeople have already begun trying to fill newspaper columns and the airwaves with their sunshine and roses fantasy picture of their bloody sport.

Cages, industrial hatcheries, giant sheds and release pens are all involved in mass production of these feathered targets. Animal Aid continues to press for a ban on the purpose breeding of birds to be shot for sport, which Holland introduced in 2002.

A particularly vicious aspect of ‘gamebird’ production is the use of small metal cages, in which the egg-producing birds are confined. Animal Aid recently released shocking undercover footage showing just how wretched and utterly depressing a time the birds have inside these metal prisons. A civilised country would not permit their use.

In fact, a YouGov opinion poll we commissioned last year found that 77 per cent of respondents opposed them.

You can add your voice to those calling for a cage ban. Please contact us for a free information and action pack.

Andrew Tyler Director I was really shocked to find out that every 15 minutes in the UK someone starts to lose their sight.

I know only too well how worrying it is to think you might not see your loved ones again after needing a cataract operation myself. Thankfully the operation was a success, but it made me think about how my life would change if I couldn’t read my lines or see the reaction on other actors’ faces when I’m on set.

Almost two million people in the UK live with little or no sight at all. RNIB is there to offer a wide range of practical and emotional support, from its invaluable Helpline and Legal Rights Service to Talking Books and even volunteers to help get people online.

That’s why I’m supporting RNIB’s ‘Wear dots...raise lots’ campaign which raises much needed funds to support all of RNIB’s vital work for people with sight loss.

It’s really easy to make a difference, simply gather your friends or colleagues and dig out the polka dots. Or why not try a dotty cake sale or games evening?

For more dotty ideas and a free fundraising pack, you can register your interest at or by calling 0845 345 0054 Barbara Windsor via email There are 100,000 of us in the UK with multiple sclerosis (MS), and it can be completely unpredictable — one day you can be fine, the next you might lose your sight or be unable to move.

Following my diagnosis in 2012 one thing I was able to control was my treatment. Since then I have been given the information and support to make the right decisions, although there were times when I had to push to get it.

It worries me that some people aren’t getting access to the treatment they need because they don’t know what their options are or what the benefits might be.

A new report by the MS Society shows just how important it is to get the right treatment at the right time for people like me who live with the condition.

Beginning treatment as close as possible to diagnosis can prevent damage to the nervous system, slow down the build-up of irreversible damage and reduce the number of relapses people experience.

I would encourage everyone with relapsing MS to talk to their neurologist about treatment options that are right for them, even if they have been advised to ‘wait and see’, as so many newly diagnosed patients are.

Treatment is a personal choice, but people with MS need to be empowered to do what is right for them.

For more information on treatment options go to

Beccy Huxtable MS Society supporter