Letters: Closing leisure centres is a big mistake

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It is a disgrace to see that eight Edinburgh sports centres face possible closure (‘Eight sports centres face the axe’, Evening News October 27).

In this day and age, when many politicians and health campaigners keep bringing up the obesity crisis, the last thing that should be facing closure is leisure centres. This sends out completely the wrong message from a health and fitness point of view.

From my observations, Silverknowes Golf Club was always busy with people out playing from dawn to dusk and there were regular tournaments which made the place even busier. There was many a time when I saw the car park full.

I don’t understand the decision to close some of these venues and in the case of Silverknowes, I thought it would be the type of place that might even make a small profit.

If the worst comes to the worst I am sure someone with a good business head could run the venue successfully.

I certainly hope that the majority of these venues are not closed as they could potentially become sites for housing or other development and once lost they are gone forever.

The city council needs to think carefully about how they spend money in the future and if the situation within Edinburgh Leisure is this serious, then perhaps any future extensions to the tram lines should be the first thing to be axed and any money that would have gone to that to be spent on leisure services instead.

Mr Alastair Macintyre, Webster Place, Rosyth, Fife

Jim Murphy left with egg on his face

I am surprised that anybody in the Scottish Labour Party could countenance as their leader Jim Murphy, who will always be known as ‘The Man Who Was Scared Of An Egg’, after his shirt was covered in egg during a protest in Kirkcaldy in August.

But maybe their London masters see things differently and they will do as they’re told if frightened by frequent re-telling of Humpty Dumpty.

John Hein, Montgomery Street, Edinburgh

Don’t support pro-vivisection charities

Men should stop and think before they rush to grow a moustache this November. Some of the money raised through the ‘Movember’ initiative (which requires participants to grow a moustache throughout the month of November) is used to fund vivisection.

As well as being cruel, animal experiments are a tragic waste of money raised in good faith, since fundamental differences between species mean that the results cannot be reliably translated to humans.

Cancer research is a case in point, with a long list of potential drugs (such as zibotentan - designed to treat prostate cancer) failing in human clinical trials despite passing animal tests.

Fortunately, though, it’s easy to support humane and productive non-animal research into cancer and mental health (Movember’s areas of focus).

For a free pocket guide to charities, showing which ones fund vivisection and which don’t, please contact Animal Aid by phoning 01732-364 546 ext. 233 or emailing isobel@animalaid.co.uk. For more information visit www.victimsofcharity.org.

Isobel Hutchinson, Campaigner, Animal Aid, Tonbridge, Kent

Free Church’s surprising intolerance

Writing to the Smith Commission on behalf of The Free Church of Scotland, James Fraser CBE and Rev James Maciver have suggested that the secular value of equality is “harmful to society” and that it “threatens freedom of employment, freedom of speech and unfettered sexual equality in particular jeopardises the primacy of the heterosexual family.”

They complain that secular concerns make it “difficult for Christian organisations to recruit the Christian staff who share their beliefs and agenda.” They argue against a “pluralistic society” preferring instead that universal values should be “embedded in our Christian heritage.”

I am incredulous that such a privilege-laden agenda should be described by its exponents as “restoring a level playing field.”

While I fiercely defend the right of religious groups to submit their wish-lists to the Smith Commission, I am confident that the commission will negotiate what is right for Scots of all religions and none, and will employ exactly the sense of equality and fairness which the Free Church wants to abandon.

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society, Saughtonhall Drive

Which was the right war to be fighting?

I have heard two radio news broadcasts today in which our military presence in Afghanistan, and the sacrifice of 453 service men were justified.

This is an important exercise because our armed services must be confident that we wouldn’t place them in harm’s way unless it was absolutely necessary.

Curiously in both of the news broadcasts the principal reasons for our presence in Afghanistan was given as “9/11 came out of Afghanistan and Afghanistan-based terrorists threatened to mount attacks in the UK.”

If this was so, why on earth did we send our men and women to fight in Iraq for exactly the same reason? They can’t have it both ways.

Our soldiers, sailors and airmen deserve to be told the truth about why successive governments were willing to risk their lives.

David Fiddimore, Calton Road, Edinburgh