Letters: Holyrood right to back Sir Ian’s commission

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As a coalition of leading independent and third sector providers of children’s services we are delighted to see the Scottish Government investing an additional £4.5 million to increase young people’s skills and training opportunities in its response to the Commission report led by Sir Ian Wood on getting young people into training and employment.

We particularly welcome that this investment includes plans to assist young people with additional support needs (ASN) to gain better access training and employment programmes, as well as a commitment to improving the lives and prospects of care leavers.

By the time they are 26, young people with ASN are nearly four times more likely to be unemployed than their wider peer group, with care leavers facing among the most dire outcomes, not only languishing at the bottom of employment leagues, but also those for health, education and crime.

They are more likely to die prematurely, be unemployed, be addicted to drugs or alcohol and be imprisoned.

In addition, figures from Skills Development Scotland show that only 0.32 per cent of those in a Modern Apprenticeship has a declared disability, down from 0.48 per cent in 2010-11. Although reliant on self-declaration, this is still woefully low and we are pleased to see today’s commitment from the Scottish Government to tackle these inequalities.

We further welcome the proposals for foundation apprenticeship pilot programmes and greater collaboration between schools, colleges and local authorities. The introduction of programmes like this will provide the vulnerable groups that we work with, many of whom boast excellent skills, with the ‘work ready’ skills and abilities necessary for them to be able to enter into sustainable employment.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition, Walker Street, Edinburgh

Cameron’s failure leaves us EU choice

David Cameron’s failure in trying to prevent Jean Claude-Juncker become president of the European Commission was a total humiliation. (June 28)

The Prime Minister is not even on the pitch when it comes to European Union (EU) affairs, but has been relegated to the stands, watching on as a helpless spectator.

Dealing with EU leaders and institutions requires a level of diplomacy and skill that the UK simply does not have and it is well and truly in the EU departure lounge. Any thoughts of fundamental renegotiation of the UK’s relationship with the EU are off the agenda.

We in Scotland are shackled to a corpse, part of a UK which is a pariah when it comes to the EU, friendless, toxic and with no influence.

The choices before us are simple, we take charge of our own affairs when it comes to the EU, building up strong relations with other member states, freed from the bad will there is towards the UK, or we remain in a failed UK which will see us forced out of the EU against our will.

The choice is simple and it is in our own hands come this September.

Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh

Road closure will impact on residents

I am writing to express my strongest opposition to the planned diversion of the A71 starting from July 7.

I note the concerns about contractor operative safety but feel that the diversion will cause significantly greater risk to residents, pedestrians and road users in the area.

I am astonished that this risk is shifted to the local community in this way and disgusted by the incredibly short notice given by letter to residents in the area.

In addition to the significant impact on the quality of life and ability to enjoy the summer weather in our gardens and neighbourhood, this plan will almost certainly result in accidents. At this time people walk dogs, run for fitness, cycle and enjoy the relative peace along the Alderstone Road. The diversion will bring misery to residents for a significant period of the summer and heightened risk to children during the school holiday period.

There will be negative consequences to this hair-brained idea. I urge the council to consider alternatives which will minimise the impact on the local community and residents of the area.

G Smyth, Bankton Brae, Edinburgh

Edinburgh police come to phone rescue

I was one of almost 2000 delegates from across the world who attended the World Association for Infant Mental Health meeting in Edinburgh city centre last week.

On Friday I lost my smart phone – with all the critical information for the conference among other things – and called the local police to help me find it.

I realised, of course, that finding a phone might not be a priority for a city centre police force on a Saturday morning and apologized accordingly. However, a young policeman and a policewoman came to my hotel within minutes and took all the particulars in a warm, friendly and gracious manner.

Then, they not only found my phone at the Playfair Library in the Old School at Edinburgh University but they went there to recover it and returned it to my hotel.

I know that Edinburgh is ranked as one of the top five safest cities in the UK but I left the city not only with a sense of its safety but with an appreciation of the city as friendly and civil and with a deep sense of gratitude to the two dedicated Edinburgh police officers – whose names I do not have – who, for me, represent all that is best in the Scottish character.

J Kevin Nugent, Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, USA