Letters: Homelessness needs to be tackled at source

A newspaper-reading beggar in Princes Street. Picture: Greg Macvean
A newspaper-reading beggar in Princes Street. Picture: Greg Macvean
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The stabbing of a tourist after he was asked for money by an alleged beggar was an horrific and senseless act (News, July 21) and I wish him a speedy recovery. I would also like to commend Police Scotland for the swift action they took in relation to the incident.

However, I must take issue with the comment piece by Councillor Heslop in the same edition (‘Scourge on our streets that we have to tackle’).

His appalling choice of words may lead readers to wrongly believe that homeless people in Edinburgh are to be feared. The reality is that they need our help.

Homelessness and rough sleeping are falling in the city, but not fast enough. That’s why the council continues to spend nearly £30 million a year providing advice, support and temporary accommodation to vulnerable people.

Our focus on prevention is working, by sorting out the issues that can lead to a person becoming homeless in the first place and by offering support for whatever is causing problems which may lead to people losing their homes.

I commend Councillor Heslop’s view that tackling the twin problems of homelessness and begging should not be a political one and I look forward to his continuing support for the council’s house-building programme and our significant investment in services to prevent and respond to homelessness.

Few services are immune to the impact of the UK Government’s reduction in public spending and that means that elected members have to make difficult decisions. However, the administration voted to protect the funding of these key homelessness and housing support services in 2015/16.

Councillor Heslop may remember that this protection was not offered by all parties during that process.

We are fortunate to work closely with our partner voluntary organisations who have agreed to take a share of this burden under our collaborative working programme.

The one thing Councillor Heslop got right was that not having a permanent roof over their heads is not a ‘lifestyle choice’ made by the people the council and its partners work with.

No-one chooses to become homeless and this council is making every effort to ensure that no-one has to either.

Councillor Cammy Day, Housing Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council

New bus shelters fail to offer protection

I heartily agree with your article (‘Gimme shelter? That’s one thing these don’t do’, News, July 21).

I think the new bus shelters in the city are appalling. No consideration has been given to the way they are erected.

We have a prevailing south westerly wind and when it is wet and windy there is no shelter at the stop I use most.

I expect the one at the Marchmont crossroads will be the same, with the south side open to the elements.

H Rae, Monkwood Court, Edinburgh

SNP can’t call the shots at Westminster

once again we see veiled threats because Labour did not vote the way the SNP were wanting them to on the Benefits Bill.

The SNP are under the impression that their 8.5% of the Westminster seats is their right to govern the entire UK .

The 56 club could be in for some rather unpleasant news. With 10% of the land in the UK belonging to the Ministry of Defence and the Chancellor planning to sell a lot of it off, if he starts in the Shetlands and works down the country, by the next election a tenth of the ground may belong to Russian oligarchs or Saudi Arabia.

Colin Cookson, Stenton, Glenrothes

Solar energy subsiby has proved wasteful

This week saw the turn of the solar industry to defend its renewable subsides, which, they claim, won’t be needed soon.

But even if the subsides were to stop in ten years’ time, 90% of the industry would probably disappear.

Few people know that the electrical generation of small-scale solar arrays is estimated and doesn’t account for reduced generation due to faulty installation, snow, dust, shade and panels which don’t face south.

So there are undoubtedly homes which receive the full, index-linked subsidy for 20-25 years but generate little or nothing.

Energy Secretary Amber Rudd is right.

Geoff Moore, Braeface Park, Alness

Oil profits are vital to independent Scotland

B King suggests that oil is a bonus and not key to the Scottish economy (letters, July 22).

The independence White Paper said that oil at around $115 a barrel was needed. It has since plunged to around $56 and as low as $45.

The latest GERS report shows that Scotland currently spent more than we raised due to the Barnett formula - and that was based on $115 a barrel. The next GERS report will show an ever greater deficit when it reflects the fall that has taken place since last autumn.

Some economic commentators suggest that to make any profit oil needs to be around $80. So the revenue Scotland gets from oil doesn’t just fall by half, it could be as much as 90% as the country only gets the tax take on profit.

The cuts an independent Scotland would be facing now would be huge, and the poorest would be suffering most from the collapse in this economic bonus.

M Smythe, Dalry Road, Edinburgh