Letters: Caltongate would have dismayed Robert Adam

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As one of the signatories of the letter on Caltongate which has caused such a stir, I think it is incumbent to correct one or two points in John McLellan’s piece (News, March 14).

First, I think we would all join in agreeing with him that it is a standing disgrace that a city such as Edinburgh should have so many glaring holes in its fabric. It is an inditement of a council which has no clue or vision as to the city it wishes to see and is prepared to see gap sites linger for decades, being sold from one mysterious speculator to another without comment or demur.

Second, it is, of course, true that the New Town was the result of speculative building, but it built a city unique in the world, to a single vision and to the highest quality.

Look at what our planners have done to Newhaven, a scheme hailed as a saviour of the waterfront that has turned into a ghastly, half-finished, badly built mess for which no career whatsoever seems to have suffered.

People come to Edinburgh because it is unique and not because it looks like a run-down version of Skelmersdale. And, of course, nothing is irreversible, but do you really see that eyesore being cleared away soon?

It is the same titans who gave us Newhaven at work here.

Does it matter we don’t know who owns Artisan? Does it matter that the whole sequence of financial events on the site is – umm – unusual? Does it matter that the local community unanimously rejected it? Apparently not according to Mr McLellan.

The glitterati and jetsetters of Holyrood and Pilrig should reach into their wealthy pockets and purchase this site? Well they cannot, because the true wealth is to be found in the pockets of the speculators and their complaisant lap dogs on the council; they cannot because these are relatively poor parts of Edinbugh; they cannot because they never got a chance.

But here is the real and final irony. Mr McLellan quite patently doesn’t even like this scheme. He fully admits it. Yet no one has a better idea, so beside our parliament, underneath Calton Hill, facing the New Town we will just plonk it down as we have too little dearth of imagination to even think of anything else. Adam would be turning in his grave.

When the people of a city have to turn on their own representatives for what they are doing to that city of which they are meant to be guardians, there is something deeply sick in our democracy and how it is constructed.

I have no wish to escort a future visitor through the lunar landscape of rotting concrete, rusting metal and Lego kit construction which appears to be our planners’ vision for us.

Hugh Andrew, managing director, Birlinn Ltd (incorporates Polygon, Mercat and John Donald)

Seol Compass Independent Publishing Services Ltd, Yeadons of Elgin and Banchory LLP, West Newington House, Newington Road, Edinburgh

Scottish Broadcasting Service would be better

One of the sillier scare stories on independence is that we won’t get the BBC after a ‘Yes’ vote in September.

Thomas McCafferty (Letters, March 5) is right when he says Scotland pays £320 million in licence fees but the BBC only spends £86m in Scotland, with only a pittance on Scottish drama or Scottish sports.

In Ireland, RTE pays the BBC £20m a year to get the very best of the BBC on its channels but everyone in Ireland can get all the BBC programmes via Sky, cable or by putting up a Freesat dish or using a bit of computer knowledge.

Since the advent of devolution the BBC in Scotland is not fit for purpose in its current affairs coverage and Dr John Robertson from the University of West Scotland has just published research highlighting BBC bias in its coverage of the Scottish referendum debate.

At the most momentous time in its history, BBC Scotland is losing 120 posts by 2017 in a push to reduce its budget by 16 per cent. A Scottish Broadcasting Service would create more choice, greater creativity and increased broadcasting jobs in Scotland which is a positive vision rather than the “we’re too wee, too stupid, too poor and too parochial” to do things for ourselves mindset of those opposed to self determination for our nation.

Mary Thomas, Watson Crescent, Edinburgh

Referendum debate is dividing the nation

How distressing to witness how the referendum debate is dividing the nation, forcing people into one camp or the other and creating tension.

Reading the papers, watching the local TV news or simply speaking to people I am aware of conflict, disagreement and increasing bitterness, all of which grow as the unnecessarily long campaign goes on and on and on.

Now I find that I cannot even sit with friends in my local pub without the next day reading snide tweets from cybernats who happened to overhear our anti-independence conversation.

I arrived in Scotland from the south of England in 2000 with a Scottish wife and three children proud of their Anglo-Scottish identity. I found a nation relatively at ease with itself having recently established a parliament designed so that people of different political persuasions could work together for a better future for all. Now that spirit of co-operation has gone as we argue and bicker about the future.

I worry about Scotland’s future after the referendum, in or out of the UK. I am fearful that the divisions now being created will not go away and I wonder what the more fanatical nationalists might do if they don’t get their way, especially if the vote is close.

I’m afraid that with such divisions Scotland will no longer be the place that I have grown to love. A referendum there should be, but what a pity it has to be so confrontational and divisive, and what will be the aftermath?

Barry Turner, Carberry Close, Inveresk