It’s time to bring rental pricing under control

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The news that rents in 
Edinburgh have risen this year on average by near nine per cent (News, July 24) is shocking, and raises serious questions. Will Holyrood act? Will Edinburgh City Council act? What does it say about our MSPs and councillors if they don’t? They both have powers and authority at their disposal that could – and should – be used to tackle this situation.

Across the world, from Ontario to Berlin, we’ve seen both local and national authorities step in to bring rental prices back under control, for example by capping either rises or maximum rental cost. Such measures can be noticeably effective. Make no mistakes; rent controls will not solve the housing question. Only by building enough social housing can we reliably solve the housing question, but rent controls would be an immensely positive improvement in the lives of so many folk and families in Scotland and an undeniable step in the right direction. We’ve seen them work abroad, and they could work here too.

So why haven’t we seen such legislation here? Is it lack of political daring on the part of the Scottish Government and our local councils? Or perhaps helping tenants struggling with high rents and low wages is simply not much of a priority.

Rents will continue to rise and bills will continue to increase. We need action, and the powers to act exist.

We recently saw the Scottish Socialist Party commit to support for rent controls in Scotland. We’ve already seen from the work of Jim Bollan and other SSP councillors the difference a principled voice can make. With the SSP productively engaged with the “Scottish Left” project for building a broad, united Socialist Left challenge for the 2016 Holyrood elections, the energy on display suggests strongly that progressive change can be put back on the agenda.

It’s time there were voices back in Holyrood and in our local councils that will pursue a bolder agenda for putting people before profit.

Calum Martin, Scottish Socialist Party, Clerk Street, Edinburgh

So-called left-wingers have too much wealth

The Labour party would be mad to elect Jeremy Corbyn as leader. He looks and sounds as if he should be in a care home. Exactly how “left wing” is he? A comfortable life as an MP for 32 years and owning a house in London, he is probably close to a millionaire now.

This is part of a trend. I always liked Tony Benn, for example, till I read that he left an estate of millions, not to good causes, but to his children, including his son Hilary, a supposedly “Labour” MP.

Tony Blair’s money grubbing in recent years has been a notorious disgrace. It’s almost as if the Tories are at least honest.

The SNP are just as hypocritical. Salmond has coasted through life at the taxpayers’ expense. Sturgeon and her husband reputedly have a joint income of quarter of a million – for what? She is now off on an all-expenses-paid holiday (sorry, trade mission) to China.

Are people so naive these days that they are taken in by these various chancers?

D Wilson, Watson Crescent, Edinburgh

Renewables claims are pie in the sky

The claims of the renewables industry must always be taken with a large pinch of salt.

They claim that onshore wind is the cheapest form of renewable energy.

Hydro power is.

They claim that wind is the biggest generator of electricity which is true since expensive wind electricity gets priority on the grid over cheaper nuclear, gas and coal.

They claim to be creating jobs but most are foreign or short term. For every job created in the renewables industry 3.7 are lost in the wider economy.

Renewables subsidies leading to cripplingly high energy costs were blamed for 720 job losses at TATA Steel. In 2010 Scottish Renewables forecast 30,020 full time jobs by 2015 and 48,554 by 2020.

The most recent figures for 2013 show that just 1842 people were employed.

Promises, promises, nothing but promises.

Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow

Referendum is decision for people of Scotland

It is intriguing to note the arrogance of David Cameron in flatly refusing to consider another Scottish independence referendum.

This is a decision of the Scottish people, not of David Cameron.

In this context he should be reminded that in August last year, preceding the independence referendum, he signed a pledge along with the other Unionist parties stating that “Power lies with the Scottish people and we believe it is for the Scottish people to decide how Scotland is governed.”

Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh

Free NHS treatment is the envy of the world

I AM furious at this neverending criticism of our precious NHS!

Recently I attended the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavillion and the attention I received was outstanding. A highly professional two hours of personal attention – I was amazed at the technical brilliance of the examination. A member of my family is diabetic and a constant patient, with humour he comments “they keep an eye on me”.

All this medical attention is given free – we are the envy of the world.

What could we do without it?

Mrs Sylvia M De Luca, Baberton Park, Juniper Green, Edinburgh