LETTERS: City will regret council planning on Calton Hill

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THE all too easy, rather indolent way planning consent was granted to the city observatory revamp shocked and dismayed me (News, October 8).

Calton Hill, with its revered classical architecture, watches over the glories of the New Town, just as the Castle commands and matches the Old Town, historically and architecturally.

The planning committee acknowledged the major importance of the site, but decided on a vote of six to three to dispense with the bother of a site visit, which had been proposed by Cllr Joanna Mowat and seconded by Cllr Nigel Bagshaw.

“We have all been up Calton Hill lots of times,” was the counter-argument. Yet the observatory compound is not generally open to visitors

As for the effect of the proposed development on views of the hill from west to north, the committee relied on a slideshow of images which inevitably compress the field of view and naturally render minimal the impact of any distant changes.

Only Cllr Mowat seemed seriously concerned about the inadequacy of these methods of assessment.

Cllr Mowat also expressed reservations about the irregularity of the design of the proposed cafe/salon building on the north-west corner of the enclosure.

I believe these facts are worthy of note. In years to come, onlookers will be able to observe WH Playfair’s astronomical temple partially eclipsed from the north-west by a rather wonky pavilion overhanging the observatory boundary wall.

They will want to know how it was allowed to intrude on the scene.

Alan Murphy, Learmonth Grove, Edinburgh

Lib Dem moral stance smacks of hypocrisy

Mike Crockart does himself no favours by jumping on to the Michelle Thomson witch hunt bandwagon (Evening News, October 7).

As someone who worked for Standard Life he must know how the housing market and business in general works. No “vulnerable individuals” were forced to sell their houses at the price on offer.

As for moral cases to answer, have the Lib Dems paid the outstanding £800,000 police bill for security at their 2013 UK conference held in Glasgow?

Have the Lib Dems returned the £2.4 million donation they received from convicted fraudster Michael Brown, whose bankruptcy left hundreds of vulnerable people out of pocket? What is Mr Crockett’s moral view on Alastair Carmichael’s court appearance concerning his general election smears?

It is very hypocritical for politicians to attack Michelle Thomson’s business activities when in government they did little or nothing about building affordable housing or scrapping the council house right to buy legislation or stopping the banks from giving out mortgages of up to 125% of valuation, all of which created the housing buy-to-let explosion.

Fraser Grant, Warrender Park Road, Edinburgh

World Mental Health Day highlights fears

saturday marked World Mental Health Day, hosted by the World Federation of Mental Health, with the theme of ensuring that people with mental health problems can live with dignity.

As a coalition of independent and third sector providers who deal with vulnerable children and young people, many of these require Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

Mental health problems provide one of the greatest health challenges of our time and yet we are concerned that they do not receive the recognition they deserve. Estimates vary, but research suggests that around 20% of children have a mental health problem in any given year, and around 10% at any one time.

However, CAMHS are under increasing pressure, with a 32% increase in the number of people starting treatment over the last two years. And yet many children and young people with mental health problems, for which early assessment and treatment are vital, are not receiving the appropriate support, considerably reducing their life chances.

It should also be noted that this is against a background of less than 0.5% of the NHS budget in Scotland being spent on CAMHS and less than 6% of the mental health budget.

Yet the massive benefits of early intervention are well-known, with the health, economic and social costs of mental health problems well-established.

There is a need for a revolution in thinking as to how we approach those with mental health problems, with a focus on greater investment.

The Scottish Children’s Services:

Sophie Pilgrim, Tom McGhee, Duncan Dunlop, Stuart Jacob, Niall Kelly, c/o Walker Street, Edinburgh

Legal ruling infringes children’s rights

We were disappointed to hear that Jewish and Muslim groups have claimed victory after the Council of Europe ‘retreated’ over a proposed ban on male circumcision and instead recommended only that it be performed by trained individuals.

The council had itself previously described circumcision as a “violation of children’s physical integrity”.

Should adult Muslim or Jewish religious believers choose circumcision, then they must be free to have it at their own expense, but religious freedom cannot extend to surgery on nonconsenting children.

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society, Saughtonhall Drive