LETTERS: Council tax proposals just tinkering at edges

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In 2004 John Swinney said he would ‘axe’ the council tax. In 2007 Nicola Sturgeon said the ‘hated’ council tax was beyond reform. In 2007 and 2011 Alex Salmond said in the SNP’s manifestos he’d ‘scrap’ the council tax.

After nine years in government, five of them with a commanding majority, Nicola Sturgeon has now decided to keep the council tax with minor modifications. The council tax will remain regressive, but a system of means- tested benefits and increases in the higher bands will make it slightly less unfair.

These changes introduce many anomalies. Kezia Dugdale has said that as she earns £60,000 and lives in a Band D property she will pay nothing extra, but is willing to do so. Conversely, a hardworking family living on just above average income in a Band E property will see their council tax increase by over £100 per year.

These changes will raise an extra £100m next year. That is great, but looks a little insubstantial compared to the £400m of cuts forced on councils by the SNP. What the SNP is offering is not nearly enough to deliver the transformation in public services Scotland needs, it will simply help manage the decline.

As ever, the SNP are trying to perpetuate the myth that we can have more teachers and less potholes by timidly tinkering with our revenue raising powers. We can’t.

Dr Scott Arthur, Buckstone Gardens, Edinburgh

SNP shows disdain for local government

The disdain of the SNP leadership for Scottish local government is made official.

John Swinney recently forced through substantial cuts for our councils but denied them the opportunity to decide whether they needed to increase council tax and what to spend it on.

Now First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, wanting to pull a political rabbit out of her hat ahead of May’s Scottish elections, announces that she will increase council tax in 2017, raising £100m from higher bands, and she decides it will be used in education. Councils will be able to increase all bands by a capped 3%.

The overall effect will be to leave councils significantly short-changed, but shamelessly the First Minister seeks plaudits for spending our money to further bolster her political profile.

Keith Howell, West Linton, Peeblesshire

It’s time to stop cruel trade in real furs

WE are a small, Edinburgh-based group calling for a boycott of Harvey Nichols until it stops trading in the cruel real fur trade.

Unlike other stores like John Lewis, Debenhams, H&M. Zara etc, which refuse to sell real fur, Harvey Nichols continues to trade in the skin of animals kept in conditions of horrendous suffering, despite nationwide protests and letters from caring celebrities like Joanna Lumley.

Harvey Nichols will try to tell you their fur is ‘humanely sourced’. This has been proved to be untrue, as undercover research has shown the endless animal suffering in all its true horror.

Harvey Nichols is only interested in profits and making money from fancy bits of fur trim and jackets.

Research shows about 90 per cent of the public does not support the cruel fur trade, whose production is no longer legal in the UK. So why do we allow it to be imported?

We are asking people to let Harvey Nichols know that they will not shop there until the store stops supporting the fur trade.

Alison Vance Speers, Ethical Voice for Animals, Upper Bow, Edinburgh

Let there be light above central library

ALTHOUGH it is not so urgent now that the daylight hours are growing longer, could I suggest that the lamp on the pillar outside the main entrance to the central public library be repaired?

The lamp has been out of commission for over eight months now, making it difficult to make out the library’s motto above the main door, which reads ‘Let there be light’.

Stewart Wilson, Abbeyhill Crescent, Edinburgh

Searching for answers over EU referendum

BEFORE the last referendum on Europe we were led to believe by Prime Ministers Wilson and Heath that we were voting for a ‘Common Market’.

This time we have Dave and Boris fighting to be top gun and the waters being muddied by Nicola Sturgeon threatening another Scottish referendum.

What we need is some proper information about how much money Britain contributes to Brussels and what value, if any, we get for it.

G Scott, Spottiswoode Road, Edinburgh

Planning decision is an insult to democracy

WHO wants to see the river crossing at Canonmills blighted by an overbearing block of flats?

Not the thousands of citizens who objected. Not the councillors who represent them. Not the planning committee members who voted to preserve the status quo.

No one, evidently, except the developer seeking to exploit his plot of land and a single government official who has lost the plot completely.

But that is enough. The developer appealed the planning decision and won. Isn’t democracy wonderful

Alan Murphy, Learmonth Grove, Edinburgh