Letters: Government needs to show an appetite for construction

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Projections have shown that 2012 will be another tough year for the Scottish construction sector. This comes as no surprise but is still a cause for concern.

Longer term, the industry is expected to recover – albeit slowly – but the damage caused by the current downturn risks being felt for many years to come.

It is particularly concerning to see the industry’s core manual trades hit so hard by redundancies, with thousands of skilled individuals expected to lose their jobs over the next five years.

It doesn’t have to be that way. The Scottish Government’s ambitious commitment to create 25,000 new apprenticeships each year over the lifetime of the current Scottish Parliament should become more than a simple numbers game.

Accompanying this commitment, there must be a targeted strategy to rebuild the skills and capacity the construction industry will undoubtedly need – including in the manual trades – to meet demand when the recovery finally comes.

Beyond funding for apprenticeship places, the Scottish Government needs to put additional funding into key sectors such as housebuilding and the warm homes fund.

That will enable more employers to offer young people an apprenticeship in construction, helping to build the future skills and capacity we need for the long term.

Michael Levack, chief executive, Scottish Building Federation, Crichton’s Close, Holyrood, Edinburgh

Burns’ words still appropriate now

“What force or guile could not subdue,

Thro’ many warlike ages,

Is wrought now by a coward few,

For hireling, traitor’s wages.

Very apt when they were penned by Robert Burns, these lines are still apt today, especially with an independence referendum in the offing. They could well describe self-serving political propagandists who try to frighten the Scottish people into believing that they are incapable of self-determination.

For those still on the swither, a visit to any of Edinburgh’s wonderful portrait galleries or museums to see what Scots have given the world would be an eye-opener that will discredit this contentious scaremongering.

Jack Fraser, Clayknowes Drive, Musselburgh

Who would want to be a Scot?

ALEX Orr asks what defines an individual as a Scot (Letters, January 24). For me the answer is quite simple.

Rather than merely being born in the nation, being a Scot is a state of mind for those who choose to live, work and pay their taxes here.

It’s about understanding that we are all just Jock Tamson’s bairns. It’s about believing in equality. It’s about everyone having the opportunity within the law to build their own future unhindered by the interference of others, either the public or politicians. It’s about fairness and concern for others.

These are all qualities that anyone who chooses to live here can embrace, irrespective of ethnic origin, sexual preference or religion. And they can be a proud Scot when they do. My experience is that this is not the Scotland that the SNP government is delivering. What we are being subjected to is enterprise-restricting, equality-denying and a barrage of intrusive nanny state legislation, all designed to ensure that we lead our lives as politicians see fit.

So, perhaps the question should really be, why would anyone want to be a Scot at all?

Jim Taylor, The Murrays Brae, Edinburgh

End of the line for tram officials

IT’S reassuring to know that someone such as John Gibson with a public platform shares my view of the tram fiasco.

I’m hoping that those eligible to vote will stir themselves sufficiently to turn out at the May elections and kick this incompetent bunch out of the City Chambers. If the usual apathy prevails I fear it’s a forlorn hope.

I also wonder when the roundabout at the top of London Road will be reinstated, complete with the former Edinburgh Corporation Tramways clock.

As Leith Walk is no longer a tram route there seems no reason for the roundabout not to be reinstated.

George Redpath, North Pilrig Heights, Edinburgh