Letters: Cutbacks pricing youth clubs out of existence

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It was with utter disbelief that I read your piece regarding Kirkliston & South Queensferry youth football club being banned from using their local leisure centre unless they stump up a totally unrealistic sum of money to insure their club while using the facility when the centre is closed at weekends (News, July 12).

Without knowing the intricate details with regards to this issue, I find this situation to be completely at odds with what the Scottish Government and health authorities are trying to do and that is to get the youth of this country away from their PlayStations and out enjoying healthy pursuits.

I know the KSQ club very well. My own club, Beechwood FC, take part in regular games against them and they are a smashing club run by good people who are in youth football for the right reasons. Their young players and parents are also a pleasure to deal with on a match day, and if clubs like KSQ did not exist, then football would be all the poorer for it.

My own club get a good deal with regards to the cost of hiring facilities, and we have no complaints on that score, but I know of other locally based clubs that are struggling to make ends meet, and I urge to authorities to see sense and start cutting sports clubs a little slack during these tough economic times, and make these facilities more affordable and accessible.

Contrary to what some people would have us believe, football is not an elitist, exclusive sport, it has its roots in the mining and ship-building communities of this country.

If the smaller, community-based clubs are squeezed out of existence, then the national sport in this country will become under-age drinking and solvent abuse - we are already seeing evidence of that in some areas.

Give the clubs a break and give the game back to the people.

David Smith, chairman East of Scotland Soccer Development Association; chairman, Beechwood FC, Ferrygait Place, Edinburgh

SNP stance is a curb on freedom of speech

The SNP keep banging on about a ‘free, equal and democratic society’. I’ve just watched Nicola Sturgeon on the Sunday Politics programme with Andrew Neill. I lost count of the number of times the word ‘democratic’ came into her assertions about the future of an independent Scotland. She expressed the wish that other parties and Westminster were as democratic as the SNP .

The reality is that this is the least democratic party and government I can remember and I’m 75. There is no dissent among SNP MPs because they are ruled with a rod of iron and will have been severely cautioned not to do or say anything in the run-up to the referendum that will frighten the horses.

We have Holyrood committees dominated and largely chaired by SNP MPs. If the deliberations of these committees contain issues which the SNP are afraid to expose, the committee reports are whitewashed.

Adam Tomkins, Professor of Constitutional Law at Glasgow, answering questions before a Holyrood committee on the EU was interrupted by the SNP chairperson who decided to move on to another witness because his evidence was ‘becoming too contentious’.

That is to say, it did not conform to the SNP’s assertions in the White Paper. Business leaders and others in public life have been left in no doubt that it is not in their best interests to speak out against separation. Scottish civil servants are manipulated by the SNP.

Demonstrations have been held at the BBC who were accused of bias by the separatists.

If this is the SNP’s idea of a democratic society, it certainly is not mine. As far as a ‘free society’ is concerned the freedom I fear for the most under the SNP is the fundamental freedom of speech.

Donald Lewis, Beech Hill, Gifford, East Lothian

Monteith misses mark over NHS budget cuts

Brian Monteith’s dismissive article regarding Dr Philippa Whitford’s concerns over the future of the Scottish NHS if we vote ‘No’ in September (News, July 11) is contradicted by the leading public finance health expert in the UK.

On BBC Radio Scotland on June 28, Professor Allyson Pollock, who was one the first to expose the scandalous PFI repayment costs for the new Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, began by stating that the biggest problem was that the NHS in England as we knew it no longer exists, and that the £20 to £30 billion scheduled cuts in UK government health spending south of the Border over the next few years will have dramatic consequences for the NHS in Scotland due to the Barnett formula.

As it was Labour’s shadow health secretary Andy Burnham who introduced the current privatisation health reforms in England, and recently told Holyrood Magazine that we need to get back to a UK-wide health policy, it seems that all the London parties are signed up to the continual privatisation of the Health Service.

So don’t get too attached to your free prescriptions (£8 in England), free eye tests (£25 in England), free dental checkups (£20 in England) and free personal care for the elderly (incalculable), because if you vote ‘No’, their days are numbered.

Fraser Grant, Warrender Park Road, Edinburgh

Union Flag is missing one important piece

In reply to Les Howson, (Letters, July 11) a vote for independence would see the end of the 1707 Union, not that of 1603 which would continue to exist. Also, the Union Flag as we know it dates from 1801 and didn’t disappear when Ireland became independent, but can it truthfully be called a Union Flag when one country, Wales, is not represented in it?

B King St Leonard’s Street, Edinburgh