ON Saturday February 1, I sat with around 257 guests at a Burns supper ... and they were almost all French.

Not only were the people of Ayr’s twin town St Germain en Laye celebrating the birth of our national poet, they were marking the 35th anniversary of the signing of the town twinning agreement by the late Provost Gibson Macdonald and French Mayor Michel Pericard.

It was a momentous event, and one attended by seven members of Ayr Town Twinning Association, a small group of players from the Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra and their founder and conductor Wallace Galbraith.

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And from South Ayrshire Council? The empty chair, just missing the tub of lard or ice sculpture. No-one from the council deigned to attend this prestigious occasion. Nor was there any official letter of apology or congratulation. Verbal excuses were made on behalf of Provost Helen Moonie, who had been invited. To say the Scottish contingent were embarrassed doesn’t quite cover it.

Meanwhile Mayor Arnaud Pericard, son of the original signatory, was there along with other councillors and officials of St Germain.

I know times are hard, but with cheap flights to Paris the council would have got change from £200. The generosity of the French hosts would have covered any other costs.

Plus I would have thought that an SNP-led council supported by EU-loving Labour would have been only too keen to attend a major European event, particularly on the first day after Brexit. So much for the Entente Cordiale.

Ann Galbraith
Former South Ayrshire councillor

WE ask Europe to keep the light on. The European flag continues to be flown throughout the land. We worry about our bid for freedom treading water. But while waiting we could do something positive and revitalise the twin town system.

If Wikipedia is correct, Scotland twins with 176 cities and towns worldwide. About 60% are European, the majority in France and Germany. I suspect many of the relationships are thriving, others floundering. Out of the 27 European countries, more than half are not or scarcely represented.

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So I would like our councils to review their relationships, and those towns and villages that are not twinned perhaps choose a town from the newer European members This would also be a welcome message to our immigrant friends and essential workers already in our fair-minded country.

Robin MacLean
Fort Augustus

AFTER reading your headline that PM Johnson is offering a peerage to the previous Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, one word comes to mind – FLABBERGASTED!!!!!

This is the same disgraced Tory MSP who was “shot down” by Johnson because she despised him and his extreme politics that centred around Brexit, and she initiated her Operation Arse (what a name!) campaign to disown Johnson and distance her Scottish Tory “branch office” from any association with him.

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She has been occasionally seen languishing in the back benches of the Scottish Parliament with her head low and “keeping mum” – the projected “darling” of the Tory right-wing media up here who tried to foist this insincere, deceitful woman on the Scot electorate and failed miserably!!!

Now we see the possibility of the public purse forking out for this totally undeserved peerage!!? When she no doubt accepts it, I’d just comment: “Who is the arse now, Ruth?” Like picking up 50 pieces of silver!!! What a political paradox that only the Tories could create, an embarrassing one at that, and I must say I’d have a small element of respect for her if she declined the offer on a matter of principle and pride, but that won’t happen.

As for this whole honours racket?? Well you know where this corrupt British government and associated honours providers can shove that outdated system of royal patronage/recognition eh!!! Farcical and totally unimpressive, but that is the Tories “in a nutshell”!!!

Bernie Japs

I AM in total agreement with Charlie Kerr’s suggestion of refurbishing long empty/derelict buildings to help solve the crisis of rough sleeping (Long Letters, February 9). There is, however, one problem of which he and many others may be unaware.

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If someone wishes to renovate or refurbish a building the entire work incurs VAT, whereas it is cheaper to allow it to become sufficiently dangerous to require demolition, which then avoids this huge bill. I have seen this happen to many old buildings, thereafter replaced more cheaply with a modern new-build, when even the basic structure could still have a longer lifespan than many of these replacement new-builds if it were internally renovated.

Surely the answer is to waive the VAT if the work brings a much-needed building back into use to solve another serious and costly problem. Or is collecting this tax more important than saving lives?

P Davidson