LETTERS: Hotel plans follow in an honourable tradition

The planned hotel would be inclusive of the arts world. Picture: Contributed
The planned hotel would be inclusive of the arts world. Picture: Contributed
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I am writing in response to Kenneth Taylor and William Gray Muir’s letters about the hotel proposals for the former Royal High School (News, November 25).

In 2009, having tried for many years to find a solution, Edinburgh City Council sought proposals from developers to give this undeniably important building a new lease of life.

This procurement competition, which attracted 54 proposals and was overseen by the then Edinburgh World Heritage chairman, was won by Duddingston House Properties in 2010.

In the years since, at no time did Mr Gray Muir or anybody from the conservation lobby show an interest in restoring this important building. It was only after our proposals were unveiled – which are not only fully funded but have the potential to add around £10m in annual tax revenues to Scotland’s coffers – that the St Mary’s Music School plan emerged. The plans were thrust into the limelight without any apparent respect for due process.

In response to Mr Gray Muir’s suggestion that a world class hotel be located elsewhere, the alternatives he suggests, along with other locations in the city, have all been exhaustively assessed and not deemed up to world-class standard by hotel operators.

While there will be a minimal impact on the views to the former Royal High School, the hotel proposal will also open up dramatic vistas from the portico, showcasing Edinburgh like it has never been seen before.

It is worth remembering that our forefathers dynamited a good chunk of Calton Hill to make place for the Royal High School in the first place. Presumably Lord Cockburn’s desire to see the Acropolis on top of the hill would also be objected to today. Cities evolve and change over time, it is what gives them vibrancy.

As for the suggestions from Mr Taylor that our hotel plans don’t cater for culture, quite the contrary. Rosewood Edinburgh will offer live Scottish music at least five days a week and will be a true partner to the arts – both Rosewood Hotels and Urbanist Hotels have a verifiable track record in this regard.

There will be opportunities across the cultural spectrum to showcase the cream of Scottish talent: musicians, artists and craftspeople, filmmakers and entertainers.

The hotel will help the fully-restored Hamilton building become an accessible arts and cultural venue to citizens and visitors alike, not just for the 76 students attending a music school.

Taco van Heusden, Urbanist Hotels

Turkey is no help in fighting IS in Syria

Turkey shot down a Russian jet fighter for allegedly invading Turkish airspace. Then ethnic Turks inside Syria allegedly murdered one of the two Russian pilots after they had ejected.

The other pilot, Konstantin Murakhtin, who was rescued by Russian and Syrian Special Forces, said that no warnings had been given about the alleged violation of Turkish air space.

Another report alleges that the shot down plane had spotted a Turkish convoy taking supplies to the rebels and called for backup.

If this is true it introduces a new dimension to the incident.

Some have suggested that this was a calculated attempt by Turkey to undermine Russia’s campaign of airstrikes against Islamic State since it wants secular Syrian president Bashar al-Assad ousted and the Muslim Brotherhood installed in Syria.

The Turkish president Erdogan, pictured, is rapidly turning his country from a secular one into an Islamist dictatorship.

Turkey, a nation of 76 million Muslims, wants to join the EU despite its well-documented and numerous human rights violations.

This request should be denied.

Russia is the solution to defeating IS, Turkey is the problem.

Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow

Adding to £1 billion debt makes no sense

AS a council taxpayer I have reached the point where I really don’t know what is going on here in Edinburgh these days.

On the one hand our elected 
representatives have signed off on a massive reduction in council staff (some 2000 at the last count), which will inevitably lead to many damaged or scrapped services, but on the other hand they appear to be determined to shell out £162 million upon extending the tram network.

Why, given the £1 billion-plus already owed, do they think it sensible, let alone financially prudent, to dig us even further into debt?

Two other reasons that mystify are the risk to Lothian Buses’ future as a successful business, thanks to the planned raid on its income, and that because the public inquiry into the original trams disaster is nowhere near reaching a conclusion another disaster could be waiting to happen.

Mr Kors Allan, Whitingford, Edinburgh

Does tram extension have a secret route?

IF rumours are correct, it would seem if the tram extension gets the go-ahead in December, there is a revised route for them. Instead of going all the way down Leith Walk and along Junction Street to Ocean Terminal and to Newhaven, the new route would be to Pilrig then down Stanley Road to Newhaven, cutting out what we thought the route would be.

If this is true then it truly is a waste of time and money, not to mention the problems for residents regarding on-street parking.

Mrs Susan Smart, Penicuik

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