LETTERS: Kezia is leading way on women’s pension rights

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It is really good news that Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has said that Labour will protect pensions for women who are losing out due to changes currently being introduced designed to ‘simplify’ state pension rules. Thousands of women in Scotland face being worse off due to the introduction of the single tier state pension.

Because of changes to pensionable ages introduced by the Conservatives in 1995, women born between April 6, 1951 and April 5, 1953 do not qualify for the new pension of £155 a week but men of the same age do. Thousands of women in Scotland could be paid a smaller amount. It is good to hear that Labour would use Scottish Parliament powers to top up the pensions of those affected.

Because of the changes, several thousand women born in the 1950s, particularly those born in 1954, have had their retirement plans shattered. Not only must they work for more years, but when they eventually get it, their pension will be less than they expected. There will be financial hardship for many thousands of women who don’t have time to make alternative plans.

Well done Kezia for trying to correct the injustices brought about by these changes.

Hazel Kennedy, Oswald Road, Edinburgh

Community voice is not heard in planning

Many people are concerned about the amount of development proposed in and around Edinburgh, when it is obvious that there will be environmental damage and that the region does not have the infrastructure to cope.

It’s a topic that comes up regularly on the doorstep, in the pub or on the street, and people are angry that their voices are not heard. They want some common sense in the planning system.

It is an SNP government at Holyrood that is imposing all the new homes on us. It is unelected Reporters acting on behalf of that government who are now regularly backing developers’ proposals when the councils, with local support, have rejected them as unacceptable.

And while the council’s action on such development is welcome, it is a Labour/SNP administration in Edinburgh and a Labour/Conservative administration in East Lothian that are making unpopular decisions about where all the development should go with dire consequences for communities.

There are better and more sensible ways to meet housing need across Edinburgh and the Lothians than cramming it all into existing communities with little or nothing in the way of new infrastructure.

We have to get the right kind and volume of development in the right places where it relates to jobs and good transport provision and does not damage communities. So who can change things? Only the Liberal Democrats will restore common sense to planning. Our record shows that we understand local environmental concerns and we believe in people power.

If you want changes to the way that development is planned and undertaken and if you want to restore local democracy, putting community interests before developers’ interests, then make sure there is a much stronger Liberal Democrat voice to fight for your cause at Holyrood after May 5. Otherwise it will be more of the same.

Barry Turner, East Lothian Liberal Democrats, Carberry Close, Musselburgh

Environment comes first in EU referendum

It is good to hear Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn being so positive about the EU, and unlike the Conservatives, who are just interested in the financial aspects, he is emphasising environmental issues and climate change.

Like crime, pollution crosses boundaries and the sea is shared by all coastal nations. It isn’t possible to tackle climate change at national level alone. The EU has been involved in environmental work almost from the outset, not least because of the economic benefits of environmental improvement.

EU measures have raised the quality of beaches by tackling bathing water pollution, to deal with river pollution and to protect natural habitats. Tourism has benefited from the clean up of beaches at home and abroad. There have also been restrictions on landfill dumping.

The EU has also taken a leading role in measures to combat climate change. Its members have agreed to binding targets in greenhouse gas emissions, the use of renewable energy and an improvement in energy efficiency. Mostly, I should add, from the time Labour was in government.

The Conservatives are split down the middle on the EU, whereas Labour is standing much more united, so well done Jeremy Corbyn for speaking out. This isn’t just about money, it is our future on this planet that is at stake here.

Georgina Harris, Warrender Park Terrace, Edinburgh

Labour spurned other routes to PPP funding

Henry Philip’s excuse for Labour using the PFI/PPP financial model (Letters, April 13) is somewhat undermined by the fact that at the time the Labour/Lib Dem Scottish Executive had an underspend of £718 million in 2001 and £643 million in 2002 which they bizarrely returned to HM Treasury in London.

Also during 2003-07 Labour built 205 schools but the SNP scrapped PFI/PPP yet managed to build over 300 schools during their first term of office.

The capital value of the Edinburgh schools under PFI is £337 million but the cost to the taxpayer over the lifetime of the contract will be £1270 million. The figures for the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary are even worse, with a building worth £180 million costing taxpayers £1740 millions.

Yet some claimed Gordon Brown was prudent with our money.

Mary Thomas, Watson Crescent, Edinburgh