Letters: If Aldi buys Oxgangs bell tower does it own bell?

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There’s an interesting historical link between two recent Evening News stories: the announcement of the Scottish National Theatre’s trilogy of plays for this year’s Festival and the report that Edinburgh City Council and the Church of Scotland have combined to sell prime social housing land at Oxgangs to retail giant Aldi.

The Oxgangs site’s in an area over-provided with supermarkets and will surely kill off the jobs and services at Oxgangs Broadway – only yards from the proposed Aldi.

The Festival plays are about the Scottish kings James I, II and III. It was King James II’s consort Mary of Gueldres who in 1460 founded, in memory of her husband, Trinity College Church and hospital in the valley below Calton Hill. This magnificent medieval structure passed into council ownership in 1567, the council selling it in the 1840s to the North British Railway Company who demolished it to expand Waverley station.

A handsome bell, cast for the Trinity College Kirk in the 1630s, today hangs in the free-standing bell tower of Oxgangs’ St John’s Parish Church – all scheduled to be swept away for “preferred bidder” Aldi following approval of the plans. The tower, opposite the historic Cockit Hat plantation, is very much part of the Oxgangs skyline; “the bell was one of Edinburgh’s town bells, rung morning and evening,” writes Charles Smith in Historic South Edinburgh, Vol 2.

It will be a sad day when the demolition men move in.

So what will happen to the bell? Who legally owns it now? The council? The Church of Scotland? Aldi?

It would be a pity if Aldi disposed of it, unaware of its significance to the city.

Friends of Oxgangs, Oxgangs Brae, Edinburgh

Scotland is more than an ‘appendage’ today

Jim Sillars chose to prove his argument that the UK is England with Scottish and Welsh appendages (News, January 22) by citing quotes from the first half of the 20th century.

To me, this in fact proves how far we have come and how well Scotland has fought for recognition over the last 100 years, since no one (in the UK at least) would refer to Britain as England nowadays. I will concede that Americans often refer to England instead of the UK, or even London when in fact they mean the whole country, but as far as perceptions within our united kingdom go, I feel we are very much recognised as a partner these days.

The parliament has helped to strengthen this situation, since often laws and policies discussed in the news are particular only to England and Wales and this is always pointed out, helping to strengthen the individuality of Scotland.

Perceptions and behaviour from the last century should not be clouding our judgement when making an important decision about the future of our nation today, in 21st century Scotland. The fact that we have come so far and made a name and a good reputation for ourselves over the last 100 years should encourage us that we are a respected partner in this union and not merely an “appendage”.

Amanda Wright, Corstorphine, Edinburgh

Scottish SPCA rescues thousands of animals

In her piece I’m a bad sport at charity games (News, January 23), Fiona Duff encouraged animal lovers not to donate to the RSPCA and to give to a local charity instead.

Fiona is perhaps unaware that the RSPCA works in England and Wales and here in Scotland we have the Scottish SPCA, a separate charity which operates nationally and has a huge and positive impact in local 
communities.

The Scottish SPCA rehomes thousands of abused and abandoned animals every year, rescues animals from danger and lives of misery in each corner of the country and reaches over 300,000 children through our free programme for Scottish schools in every region.

By 2015 we will have invested over £15 million in building new and expanding our existing animal rescue and rehoming centres, meaning we can help even more animals at a national and a local level.

The fantastic work undertaken by our local inspectors and rescue officers and our staff and volunteers at our centre in Balerno is regularly covered by the Edinburgh Evening News and we are hugely grateful and appreciative of the support we receive from the public.

In 2013, the Scottish SPCA was named Scottish Charity of the Year and People’s Choice Award winners, demonstrating the extent to which the Scottish public and local communities are aware of our progress and commitment to helping animals and improving animal welfare throughout Scotland.

Tom Gatherer, Deputy Chief Superintendent, Scottish SPCA

No ‘boom’ for those who can’t pay bills

So, the economy is “booming” is it (News, January 23)?

Yes, the economy is doing so well that millions of people are suffering from food and fuel poverty because their pay can’t keep up with the soaring cost of living.

Yes, Mr Osborne, until people can actually afford to live properly and can actually feel the effects of this “booming” economy, it would be a good idea to just give it a rest.

Alan Lough, Boroughdales, Dunbar, East Lothian

Cyclists take their lives into their hands

I am amazed that more cyclists aren’t killed on the roads, especially in winter when it gets dark early.

I see so many of them take their lives in their hands by not having lights on or weaving in and out of busy traffic. They look like sitting ducks to me. I certainly wouldn’t want anyone I care about cycling in the streets of Edinburgh.

Joan Graham, Morningside, Edinburgh