Letters: Bridge structural cracks underlie SNP policies

Picture: Scott Louden

Picture: Scott Louden

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An expert report in 2010 stated that the linkage system of the Forth Road Bridge, of which the cracked member is a part, was found to ‘be significantly overstressed.’ The strengthening programme which was ordered was almost immediately cancelled with budget cuts cited as the reason.

The bridge is not alone in having structural cracks. The SNP have consistently rejected expert, professional advice in health, education, environment, justice, policing, land tenure, etc.

As is the case with the bridge, serious cracks have been flagged up over many years in most of these areas, especially health and education.

The tragedy is, however, that unlike the crack in the bridge, the cracks in the other matters cannot be repaired in a few weeks.

Those who have died as a result of inadequacies in the NHS cannot be revived, and a whole generation of children will not easily get a second chance to equip themselves for life with decent levels of literacy and numeracy which they have been unable to achieve under the present system.

All this under an SNP administration which is so economically incompetent that there were budget underspends of £347 million in the year 2013/2014 and £444million in the year 2014/2015.

Before it is too late and the cracks in the system in Scotland become irreparable, the SNP must end their obsession with populist and doctrinaire policies and grievance-mongering at Westminster which they believe will keep them in power, and turn their attention to properly addressing matters which are vital to the proper governance of Scotland.

Donald Lewis, Gifford, East Lothian

Vital to protect kids’ education funding

Scottish Government figures which indicate that 22.5 per cent of pupils in Scottish schools are recorded as having Additional Support Needs (ASN) are very concerning and show a strong need for the protection of funding to this sector (December 10).

With the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) warning that councils could face up to half a billion pounds of budget pressures in the coming year, we have written to all council leaders as they look to set their budgets, seeking the protection of funding to services addressing the needs of those with ASN.

As we know, the cost to society of failing to adequately support this vulnerable group far outweighs any potential budget cuts.

Reduction in individual support to children with challenging behaviour can result in severe disruption to mainstream classes. In this context council education departments have also highlighted an increasing number of children with complex needs and the consequent pressure on special school places.

It should also be noted that this is set against a background of the number of teachers consistently falling, from 54,347 in 2008 to 50,717 this year.

Urgent action is required to ensure that those children and young people with ASN are provided with adequate support, delivering the best possible outcomes. And the first step in that process is for councils to protect funding to these vital services.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition comprising:

Sophie Pilgrim, Kindred Scotland

Tom McGhee, Spark of Genius

Duncan Dunlop, Who Cares? Scotland

Stuart Jacob, Falkland House School

Niall Kelly, Young Foundations

Time to hand bridge check to the Chinese?

At First Ministers Questions calls were made in the Holyrood debating chamber for a more robust Forth Road Bridge inspection regime to be put in place to avoid future structural problems.

So what now - will the bridge maintenance be put in the hands of a Chinese structural inspection firm?

What else are we to think? Previous SNP decisions have never given much credence to home-grown engineering skills.

Colin Cookson, Stenton, Glenrothes

Show shop workers respect at Christmas

I would like to wish your readers a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. For many this is always an exciting time, but in the last few shopping days it can be frantic trying to get everything ready for the big day.

I want to gently remind your readers to remember that shopworkers are people as well. They will be working really hard to make your shopping experience as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.

A recent survey showed that every minute of the working day a shopworker is verbally abused, threatened with violence or physically attacked. Shopworkers report that incidents are more frequent throughout the Christmas and New Year period when shops are busier, customers can be stressed and are more likely to take out their frustration on staff.

Talking to our members who work in retail, I know that verbal abuse cuts deep. Many will go home after a shift upset about an unpleasant incident that took place at work that day and worried that it will happen to them again.

That is why Usdaw, the shopworkers’ union, is running a Respect for Shopworkers campaign, asking customers to ‘Keep your Cool at Christmas’. It’s a simple message, but remembering that shopworkers are working extra hard at this time and treating them with respect will mean that everyone can have a happier Christmas.

With seasons greetings.

John Hannett, General Secretary, Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw)