Letters: Chance worth more than clone town design

Caltongate plans. Pic: comp

Caltongate plans. Pic: comp

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The integrity of Edinburgh’s World Heritage status continues to be undermined by the soulless onslaught of “clone town” development, typically synonymous with speculative ventures which allow misguided, unsustainable, economic imperatives precedence over local democracy, planning guidelines and environmental legislation.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the protracted Caltongate development. For such a fine and rare opportunity, worthy of world-class stature, the council has instead shown favour to private speculation and dull imagination.

David Cameron. 'Pic:  Neil Hanna

David Cameron. 'Pic: Neil Hanna

A cursory look at the latest Caltongate applications, consisting of hundreds of documents, reveals plans for three bland hotels, offices, conference suite, restaurant and other uninspiring tourist-centric schemes.

Such development is insensitive to the local community adding to the decimation of the long-term livability of the Old Town.

With claims to “conserve the city’s build heritage” and a commitment to “co-operation, fairness, accountability and responsibility” the credibility of the council is hollow when a more detailed scrutiny reveals the process to date has been anything but this.

Besides build quality, questions regarding the legal aspects of this development have been raised given the highly controversial closed sale of public assets, not least the arches of Jeffrey Street which are to be “sold by way of a 125-year internal repairing and insuring leasehold basis on a peppercorn rent”.

In spite of all this heritage bodies such as Edinburgh World Heritage and Historic Scotland have acquiesced in favour of this development.

The closing date for public comments is midnight September 30 and unless champions of common sense step in at this 11th hour, a supine council administration is poised to seal this tragic folly.

Simon Byrom, West Bow, Edinburgh

Is Scotland off limits for PM?

I CANNOT be alone in my disappointment and concern at David Cameron’s decision not to participate in a televised debate against Alex Salmond.

Mr Cameron, pictured above right, is the leader of this United Kingdom, and it is his right, nay, his duty, to stand up for our British values and British way of life against those who threaten them. Instead, he has made the potentially disastrous choice to nominate a Labour backbench MP to speak for him.

I do not believe, as the separatists would have it, that Mr Cameron is afraid of debating Salmond, neither do I think that he simply does not care enough. Of course he cares, but his backroom team have decided (wrongly) that a debate carries too many risks. But are we seriously to believe that Scotland is now off limits for our democratically elected leader?

This sends a very dangerous message and I hope Mr Cameron reconsiders his decision.

E Billingham, Bruntsfield, Edinburgh

Dave won’t brave one Eck of a fight on TV

It is clearly disappointing, but not unexpected, to see UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, run scared from debating the issue of independence with Alex Salmond.

Mr Cameron put his name to the Edinburgh Agreement and received the plaudits, and a joint award, for this; he issues proclamations on the apparent strength of the Union; is head of a UK Government publishing swathes of reports commenting on issues ranging from currency to defence in an independent Scotland, and will put preserving the Union at the centre of the forthcoming Tory conference. However, when it comes to speaking up to preserve that Union in public debate, he is posted missing.

His apparent defence is that it is not for him but for Alastair Darling as leader of the ‘No’ campaign to debate with Alex Salmond. However, Alex Salmond is not leader of the ‘Yes’ campaign, it is of course Blair Jenkins. And as UK Prime Minister there is an obligation on Mr Cameron, and one he should relish, to engage in a televised debate to promote the Union’s continued existence.

Let us also not forget that this is the same Prime Minister who pledged to fight for the Union with “every fibre of his being”. It appears however that this “fight” does not extend to speaking up for the Union in public debate, a shameful act of gross hypocrisy from a man who is too feart to fight.

Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh

Keep your hands off our heritage please

Neil Barber snipes at the Kirking of the Judges ceremony at St Giles’ (News, September 26). He is plainly not conscious of or knows much about our fine history and culture that saw law, education and church remain stoutly independent even after the 1707 Union of Parliaments .

The Kirking is a suitable celebration of the traditions of the capital city and its important historical links to church and legal system. Who would want to replace such traditions with some vapid and colourless bureaucratic form-filling? Hands off the cultural heritage of Edinburgh and Scotland please.

Gus Logan, York Road, North Berwick

Thanks to ERI staff for caring treatment

TWO weeks ago I took ill suffering from a heart attack and was rushed into ERI and admitted to the coronary care unit.

Thankfully after several days in hospital I was well enough to return home. Every member of staff I met from the first paramedics through to the nurses and doctors treated me with the utmost care and dedication and were a credit to their profession.

I wanted to share my positive experience with your readers. It is a caring profession and I am thankful for the treatment I received.

Kevin Scott, Tranent