The thoughtful piece by Jim Sillars (What a state we serfs are in, News, April 3) contains much sense and is conveyed with a humility not evident in many of the recent fulminations about housing benefit.
Rarely for a politician of the left, Jim recognises the problems with ceding increasing parts of our lives to state control.
I want to invite him to go a step further. Removing the state subsidy on spare rooms is not only a move away from the dependency and state control he speaks out against. It is fairer.
First there are in Edinburgh many people on the housing waiting list for whom the freeing up of under-used accommodation will provide them with a home – or a more suitable home.
Second, the payment of housing benefit from public funds for under-occupied premises is a subsidy which is not available to residents in private sector rented homes.
Of course I am aware there is insufficient housing stock of the right size to allow everyone with an extra room to downsize. Some will have difficulty if their weekly benefit is reduced by £14. I know there will be cases of hardship. But that is why in Edinburgh substantial funds have been set aside for help and advice in cases of need.
That is yet another reason why Jim Sillars should consider a more positive response to current moves to reduce the runaway increases in housing benefit payments. It results in less of the state control – against which he argues so thoughtfully and persuasively.
Cllr Cameron Rose, Conservative group leader
Outraged by this irrational policy
Jack Fraser may well be right that the Holyrood political elite were not at the Edinburgh bedroom tax march last weekend.
Still, I was there and proud to march alongside Green councillors and many Green Party members who share my sense of outrage at this most unjust and irrational of policies.
Alison Johnstone, Lothian Green MSP
Money wasted in revamp of centre
THE Craigmillar Settlement was a well used and much loved community centre until four years ago when Edinburgh City Council officials convinced councillors to evict the community and to use most of the building for the officials’ own purposes.
They spent the best part of £80,000 on legal fees defending their despicable actions in the Court of Session and bureaucrats have admitted spending a further £170,765 to convert the Settlement into luxury high-tech offices for themselves.
The city has therefore squandered more than £250,000 to put the community out of our Settlement. If this is the work of a co-operative council then I shudder to think of them ever being unco-operative.
Lyndsay Martin, secretary, Craigmillar Labour
Mountains should be no-go in snow
Since there has been a number of tragic accidents and fatalities within the Scottish mountains over the winter months, perhaps the time has come to impose restrictions on people’s activities in these majestic but deadly locations.
Until people are fully aware of the dangers that mountainous areas can bring I suspect there will be more tragic accidents and lives lost needlessly.
Angus McGregor, Edinburgh
Observance is the secularists’ target
Howard Thompson (April 3) comments on my letter about pagan Easter saying that “Easter is about love, life, resurrection and renewal”. Most people have those sorts of feelings around the vernal equinox so no arguments there. I just object to the idea that Christians are the sole owners of its “real” meaning.
He does make the important point that teaching about religion in schools is as important as teaching maths. I agree. Religious Education (RE) rightly teaches about all religions in a comparative and philosophic way and provides children with an equal platform for non-belief.
In addition, however, schools are obliged to provide a minimum number of hours of Religious Observance (RO). This takes the form of usually Christian worship imposed as truth. It is the evangelising dictates of RO that secularists want to remove from education.
Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society