LETTERS: Hotel not worth risk to Edinburgh’s heritage

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Have your say

Great concern has been expressed over plans to develop the old Royal High School as a five-star hotel on the iconic site of Calton Hill.

I have worked in the tourism industry in Edinburgh for 32 years. I have met thousands of visitors to the city and have experienced their reaction to this unique place at first hand.

Tourism is a hugely important industry bringing millions of pounds to the city and creating a wide range of employment.

So why do visitors come to Edinburgh? We can’t guarantee great weather, they can’t buy cheap food or drink, so what is the big attraction? Three words – history, architecture and environment.

Why on earth would we destroy the very environment that draws visitors here in the first place?

It has been a long time since Edinburgh has had any councillors of any party prepared to defend the city’s 
heritage.

To hear their arguments about the Royal High development advancing Edinburgh’s economy, you could be scared into thinking the city will plunge into recession if it doesn’t go ahead. Nonsense!

We are talking about one hotel, a five-star hotel, therefore, with an elite visitor base. That means elite as in small. Of course it would bring employment – not something to be dismissed – but all profits would flow out of Edinburgh to its American owners.

What do we risk losing? What about the hundreds of other accommodation providers in the city, from top class hotels to guests houses and backpackers’ hostels? Their clientele are drawn to the city by its very uniqueness. I have no doubt that the economic advantage the city receives from their clientele far outweighs that of one five-star hotel.

By destroying the unique environment that draws visitors from around the world we would kill the goose that lays the golden egg. But even more important than any economic or tourism argument is the fact that this is our city, much loved by its citizens. Councillors, destroy it at your peril!

Mrs Patricia Dishon, Inchview Terrace, Edinburgh

We need to raise taxes for the good of society

our SNP government must consider putting fair taxation at the top of the political agenda when Holyrood is handed powers over income tax via the Smith Commission.

Always acting in the interest of 
British conservatism before Scottish devolution, Lord Smith, pictured, banks on the SNP shying away from increasing income tax because of the inevitable derision from influential rich No supporters backed by a biased mainstream media, I would argue.

Few of us relish paying taxes, but surely anyone wishing to live in decent society must realise that we should not tolerate tax evaders and every one of us should pay a fair amount of tax for the benefit of society as a whole. Fair taxation is not only good, it is absolutely necessary in the interest of human decency.

Under recent Westminster administrations, the gap between rich and poor has continued to widen. If the SNP could convince a progressive Scottish electorate that raising taxes for those who can afford to pay more is right, it would be one in the eye for Lord Smith and those who supported a slanted commission that most Scots thought let down the people of Scotland, according to opinion polls.

When a report from Oxfam Scotland claims that Scotland’s four richest families are wealthier than the poorest 20 per cent of the Scottish population, unfair taxation is indefensible when one considers that even at the apex of Thatcherism, the top rate of income tax was much higher than it is today.

Unfair taxation is a result of the failure of a Tory/Labour/Liberal consenting coalition. The idea that tax cuts for the wealthy sees wealth trickle down to the poor is a patently obvious fallacy. Scotland needs a different consenting coalition, a coalition with enough moral fortitude to put redistribution of our vast wealth at the forefront of our political agenda.

Jack Fraser , Clayknowes Drive, Musselburgh

Bishops should stay out of refugee debate

Although I think it commendable that Westminster has agreed to take in a number of Syrian refugees, I think the Church of England bishops should not be getting involved and complaining that we should take in many more than the agreed quota.

We are a tiny island and we are already struggling. Our government has apparently so little money that it had to force the poorest in our society to pay bedroom tax, which resulted in homelessness and suicides.

We already have too many homeless folk on our streets, so where will we house new people when we can’t house our own?

As for our NHS, it is falling apart due to lack of investment. Waiting lists for surgery and for appointments in some areas of the UK are ridiculous.

These bishops don’t even look after the UK population as it is. Many of the bishops have led privileged lives, so it’s easy for them to make such grand gestures when it is us who will pay the price.

Elaine Pomeransky, Restalrig Gardens, Edinburgh

Holyrood made wrong choice for Chinese steel

The decision by the SNP government in 2012 to award the contract to build the new Forth road bridge to a Chinese steel company was the death knell for the Scottish steel industry.

Their crocodile tears at the job losses at Tata ring hollow today when they turned down Tata steel just a couple of years ago.

Is there no end to their hypocrisy?

Thomas McCafferty, Drumbrae South, Edinburgh