Letters: Fee necessary to keep troublemakers out park

The entry fee money to Dalkeith Country Park helps pay for the park's upkeep. Picture: Julie Bull

The entry fee money to Dalkeith Country Park helps pay for the park's upkeep. Picture: Julie Bull

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THE redevelopment of Dalkeith Country Park is being undertaken to create a first-class visitor attraction that will appeal to the local community as well as a wide range of visitors, particularly families.

We estimate that this exciting project, once completed, could attract in the region of 300,000 more visitors per year to Midlothian, support a significant number of local jobs and provide a safe and pleasant environment for those who visit the park.

The Evening News article “Call to scrap park entry fee” (July 25) regrettably failed to reflect the very substantial potential benefits of the project which, rather than attracting public monies as stated, is being funded by nearly £4 million of private investment.

A longstanding issue of antisocial behaviour, from a minority of people who enter the park, means that for the project to be successful, and with the agreement of the majority of users, there is a need to be able to ask those causing a nuisance to leave and lock the gates at night. In order for us to do this, in line with the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, we must make a charge to access the park, which must be in place for at least 90 days per annum. This has always been the case at Dalkeith Country Park and it is unfortunate that some misunderstanding remains over the nominal fee, which is currently £1, and has been charged for some decades. The only difference is that we are now in a position to lock the park at night. Visitors to the park are more than welcome out of hours and can gain access with a swipe card, the annual fee for which is £20.

This approach has been widely supported by regular users of the park who have witnessed the damage done. The small amount of revenue raised from the charge is re-invested in the upkeep of the park.

Our estates have had an open access policy for generations and we have been hugely encouraged by the very supportive feedback we received from the general public following an extensive public consultation on the Dalkeith Country Park project. We look forward to delivering an excellent attraction which we believe will give great enjoyment to many in years to come.

Edward Morris, Estate Manager, Dalkeith Country Park, Dalkeith

Well done to News for defib campaign

It’s just a year ago that the wonderful Evening News teamed up with the family of tragic young footballer Jamie Skinner to launch the Shockingly Easy campaign to install lifesaving defibrillators at every sports club in the Lothians (News, July 28).

As the Evening News has revealed, there have been 75 new devices installed since July 2014, with money flooding in from compassionate readers, while young footballers, older bowls players and enthusiastic community groups came forward to secure their teams’ futures.

Thanks and praise to the Evening News and all who donated to make this possible. Just brilliant.

Mrs June Fleming, Hercus Loan, Musselburgh

Let’s be more tolerant of under-threat gulls

Whenever wild animals or birds trouble us humans, there follow the inevitable cries of “cull them”.

Every summer millions of people flock to the coast where many gulls live. Despite warning notices, some visitors insist on feeding them, while others seem to find it impossible to place their leftovers in a bin.

The holiday period coincides with the birds’ breeding season and, being fierce defenders of their offspring, the birds will occasionally be aggressive - for a few weeks a year - to those they consider too close to their nests.

There are simple, inexpensive and non-lethal methods to deter birds from nesting on flat roofs or chimneys, or from rummaging in our rubbish – we have free factsheets available on deterring gulls and other species. Otherwise we should show tolerance through the breeding season, not least because they are just being good parents.

Numbers of coastal gull species are dropping partly because we humans are stealing their fish. It would be a shame if we slaughtered them because they steal a few of our chips.

John Bryant, Wildlife Consultant, Animal Aid, Bradford Street, Tonbridge, Kent

Food bank comment reeks of Tory apathy

Scotland’s only Tory MP, David Mundell, has said that people see food banks as a way of scoring political points.

Considering that the reason why usage of food banks has increased is because of Conservative policies, only somone as arogant as a Conservative MP could make a comment as apathetic as this.

Alan Lough, Boroughdales, Dunbar, East Lothian

Road needs cameras to slow drivers down

Why are there no speed cameras on Queensferry Road especially between Barnton Junction and Davidson’s Mains?

Drivers speed along this road well in excess of the 40mph limit. There is an entry to a school on this part of the road. An accident waiting to happen.

C Henderson, Parkgrove Street, Edinburgh

Thank you for care received in hospital

I would like to thank the staff at the skin department of the Western General Hospital, Lauriston, and a special thank you also to OP2, St John’s Hospital, for care and attention during my recent skin cancer scare.

J Alexander, Edinburgh