LETTERS: Hammond’s migrants message is shameful

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Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond’s comment about ‘marauding’ migrants and Europe’s inability to cope with an influx of ‘millions’ of Africans is not only deeply distasteful but a clear distortion of the facts.

Some countries, such as Italy and Greece, have had to cope with large numbers of migrants, 110,000 between them this year. By contrast the UK accepted 24,000 refugees last year. Indeed, of the number of first-time asylum seekers in the EU in the first quarter of this year, about 40 per cent of the claims were lodged in Germany compared with only four per cent in Britain

The camp at Calais which has dominated the headlines holds an estimated 3000 people and of these only a handful make it to the UK and avoid arrest.

Migration in this context is a humanitarian problem, with many of those fleeing Africa coming from failed states such as Libya, or war zones such as Syria. They flee war, persecution and economic failure.

If Mr Hammond wants to tackle the root cause of these problems, as he claims he wants to do, they are not to be found at Calais, but in those countries affected.

To describe all these individuals as a drain on the resources of this country is also highly disrespectful and shows just how wedded this government is to an anti-human rights agenda. These people are resourceful and motivated and it is a mistake for the UK government to go down this route.

The pressures are caused by war and economic failure, and barbed wire and sniffer dogs are not a long-term solution. Economic development and peace is fundamental to addressing the issue in those nations concerned, and it is a great pity to see this sidelined while the UK government resorts to dog whistle politics.

Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh

How about airports for travellers, not shoppers

I was out at the Ingliston Shopping Arcade recently, when I noticed that they also seem to have aeroplanes flying in and out. I was suddenly struck by the thought: ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to have a separate airport dedicated to people who actually want to travel for business or leisure’?

This could have a security area near the arrival and check-in areas, leading directly to the gates, without the need to walk three quarters of a mile past shops.

It would also cater for people who need to drop off or pick up those who aren’t travelling into the city or who need assistance; such facilities would be free of charge. The new airport could be called ‘Edinburgh Travel Airport’, or perhaps even Turnhouse, the old name for Edinburgh’s original airport.

Edwyn Newman, Netherby Road, Edinburgh

Change on buses is a blast from the past

What a delightful blast from the past submitted by Mr Damian Killeen (News, August 10). I never thought I would read another article complaining about the ‘exact fare’ system on the buses, 40 years after it was introduced.

His submission describes now-fanciful scenarios such as these three all in one sentence “...the sight of visitors hunting for change in unfamiliar currency, friendly passengers trying to help out and drivers trying to defend the indefensible.”

Really? I use the buses frequently too and haven’t seen such sights for years. Apparently “time and motion is wasted and the City’s positive profile takes another knock”!

Curiously, visitors apparently “express their surprise at the system here.” Mr K seems to be speaking for some particularly simple-minded tourists, whom one can only assume have not used urban transport for years, have never seen our money before and haven’t done any homework before climbing on board.

The fact is that urban flat fares and no-change systems are in use world-wide with one-person operation. Nobody should step on a bus or tram without becoming familiar with the fare systems in use. Many transport systems do not even allow you to board without a ticket or pass, just like our trams.

In fact, Lothian Buses are brilliant in getting their message across, assuming the passenger can read English. I know of no other bus company that puts information about the fares so clearly at every bus stop and their website goes into details, including how to claim a refund if the passenger is ‘obliged’ to overpay.

Far from wasting time, the system speeds up boarding and there are several ways of paying.

N Mackenzie, Grange Loan, Edinburgh

Grouse shooting is earning more critics

It is heartening to see the growing opposition to grouse shooting. Animal Aid has long spoken out on behalf of the grouse destined to be blasted from the skies for ‘sport’, as well as for the wild animals who are trapped, snared or shot because they pose a ‘threat’ to the shooters’ quarry. We now see a steady procession of environmentalists and conservationists raising their voices in protest.

And replacing the usual, jolly ‘Glorious Twelfth’ stories in the newspapers, are in-depth reports on the illegal killing of birds of prey and the environmental damage caused by grouse shoots to our most precious habitats.

In response, the shooting industry attempts to defend this indulgence of the super-rich with its’ alleged economic benefits. Yet bloodsports enthusiasts fail to mention the millions of taxpayer’s pounds that are claimed by grouse shoots via schemes that are supposed to improve the uplands.

Grouse shooters may well have friends in high places, but the damage, cruelty and excess that characterises shooting is well documented and has led to the huge increase of those calling for an end to this vile activity. Visit www.animalaid.org.uk

Fiona Pereira, Animal Aid, Tonbridge, Kent