Letters: Health and safety must come before economies

Liberton High School. Pic: Phil Wilkinson
Liberton High School. Pic: Phil Wilkinson
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Prime Minister David Cameron has said that lessons must be learned from the tragic death of Keane Wallis-Bennett at Liberton High. The issue was raised by Ian Murray MP for Edinburgh South at Prime Minister’s Questions.

Mr Cameron said: “This was an absolutely shocking accident which people will have seen across the country and their hearts will go out to her family and friends. Lessons will have to be learned to make sure such tragic accidents won’t happen again.”

The Prime Minister is correct, lessons must be learned, most urgently by him and his government, whose approach to health and safety matters is deeply and dangerously flawed.

Lessons should be learned by employers and others before innocent lives are lost. That is not achieved by trotting out a ‘deregulate, deregulate, deregulate’ mantra. Removal of what they call ‘red tape’ will only lead to more dangers.

Almost every death in a workplace is preventable by good management of health and safety. But David Cameron is hostile to such approaches and has variously described good health and safety as ‘a millstone’, an ‘albatross, a ‘burden on business’ and has even vowed to ‘kill off the health and safety culture’.

Cameron’s government has slashed the budget of the Health and Safety Executive by 35 per cent; boasts of cutting pointless health and safety ‘red tape’ and has forced the classification of schools as ‘low risk’ workplaces where preventative, proactive inspections which spot and fix dangers before they hurt anyone, are now banned.

Louise Taggart, Inverleith, Edinburgh; Founder member of Families Against Corporate Killers and project worker with Scottish Hazards

Darling and Dunlop drive ‘Project Fear’

Amidst the furore surrounding the revelation that the UK’s threat of ruling out a currency union with an independent Scotland was indeed a bluff – as the majority of Scots already suspected – I am surprised that little or no attention has been paid to another even more explosive revelation in the original newspaper article by The Guardian.

In addition to the remarks made by the ‘unnamed senior minister’ that agreement on a currency would indeed be reached, there were also comments from a Treasury source who said, regarding the original decision to publicly denounce a currency union, “Alistair and Andrew are running the show – we just did what they said.” Alistair is, of course, Project Fear’s Alistair Darling, while Andrew is Andrew Dunlop, David Cameron’s special adviser on all things Scottish.

Mr Dunlop is perhaps little known to the general public, but his main claim to fame was his time as a member of Margaret Thatcher’s inner circle, where he played a key role in the decision to introduce the despised Poll Tax in Scotland a year earlier than the rest of the UK.

George Osborne’s sudden and emphatic rejection of a currency union was done, it was said, because of advice received from the Treasury.

Publishing Treasury advice is highly unusual and at the time appeared to give weight and impartiality to Osborne’s intervention. But now it has been revealed that the entire episode was in fact fabricated and orchestrated by Darling and his Tory ally, Dunlop.

In light of these revelations and if Darling had any decency, he would resign, but I don’t expect that will happen and it is surely too late in the campaign for him to be fired, despite the escalating discontent within No Campaign at his leadership

Instead, I suspect we will see further attempts to bluff and bully, but this episode has proven once and for all that the Scottish public cannot believe a word said by Alistair Darling, his Project Fear cohorts and the UK government. They are quite prepared to say or do anything to prevent Scotland choosing a better future.

William Davies, Penicuik, by email

Parking problems for handicapped at ERI

I had to be at ERI for an appointment at OP6 on Thursday. There used to be six disabled spaces near this outpatient door, now there are none.

In total 12 disabled spaces have disappeared and on enquiring with the parking operator in the main vestibule I was told it has nothing to do with them. The car parks are now run by a company called Empark UK Ltd.

What happened to Consort, have they given up because of complaints or is subcontracting supposed to be 
better?

My 19-minute stay cost £1.30 which works out at nearly £5 per hour. I am disabled and have a blue badge but there are no spaces to accommodate any who have to visit, not even in the car park which is now even further from the clinics.

What are we supposed to do, take the badge into the desk to get the concession?

I have to return and so do many others; we need this sorted as many appointments last more than one hour.

A Morris, Pitt Street, Leith

Merger is the way for Hearts and Hibs to go

I really do not see what the fuss is about the possible bankruptcy of Heart of Midlothian Football Club.

In this day and age, surely no Scottish city needs to have more than one football team? A merger between Hibernian and Hearts would do much to promote the Scottish Government’s anti-sectarian agenda. And it would also allow either the Gorgie or Easter Road stadia to be redeveloped for much needed social housing.

A move like this in Edinburgh could show the way to Scotland’s second city and encourage Glasgow to follow a similar approach with Celtic, Rangers and Partick Thistle – not all of whom are even currently active in top league football.

John Eoin Douglas, Spey Terrace

Edinburgh