Aileen Keyes’ claim that there is no robust evidence linking the availability of alcohol and alcohol-related harm is incorrect (A licence to chill or a culture fuelled by booze?, Evening News, December 3).
A wealth of scientific evidence demonstrates that more licensed premises and longer licensed hours lead to more alcohol problems.
In Scotland, greater availability of alcohol through more and bigger-capacity licensed outlets, extended trading hours and increased affordability and marketing, are linked to a substantial rise in alcohol consumption and harm.
Although consumption has levelled off during the past few years due to the effects of the recession, it remains at historically high levels.
Scottish licensing legislation empowers licensing authorities to control both the conditions of sale of alcohol and the number and capacity of licensed premises.
Licensing authorities have a duty to promote the licensing objectives, which include the protection of public health and the prevention of crime.
Considering the current levels of alcohol harm within the city of Edinburgh, it is difficult to see how allowing more alcohol to be sold in a locality already saturated with alcohol outlets is consistent with upholding the licensing objectives.
Licensing officials no doubt come under considerable pressure to accede to new licence requests from big business.
However, an effective licensing system needs to act in the wider public interest to prevent alcohol-related harm.
Evelyn Gillan, chief executive, Alcohol Focus Scotland
Putting a spoke in cycle claim
In the Evening News of November 16, JI Visser contributed to the controversy concerning cycling in Edinburgh and Amsterdam. He stated: “In cities in the Netherlands with trams, more people are killed by them than by other vehicles.”
I have seen this statement before and believe it to be completely false. I therefore contacted a friend who has lived in Amsterdam for many years and she stated she could not remember any such accident.
This could, however, be relying on a fallible human memory, so I contacted the transport authority in Amsterdam direct.
They have told me there were no cyclists killed in accidents involving trams in 2011.
I think it highly unlikely that all Mr Visser’s cyclists were killed in other Dutch tram-operating cities, but I invite him to give numbers of all such fatalities and the names of the cities where they occurred. He should also quote his source for the figures.
This all begs two questions. Why therefore are there so many cyclists in Dutch cities? And even, why are there so many trams in the Netherlands?
N Mackenzie, Grange Loan, Edinburgh
Vote to secure social democracy
Contrary to what Norman Bonney writes (Letters, December 3), my friends and relations in England will remain in a social union with me after independence.
However, the rise of UKIP in England and the welfare cuts by the Tories indicate a move to the political right in England.
This is being supported by Ed Miliband through his “one nation” appeal to “middle England” and copied in Scotland via Johann Lamont’s “something for nothing” attacks on the many benefits we have enjoyed from the Scottish Parliament with Labour now promoting means testing.
It seems to me that the only way to safeguard social democracy is to vote Yes in the independence referendum after which we can vote for the political party that most reflects our values in the new Scotland.
Mary Thomas, Watson Crescent, Edinburgh
Please return to republican roots
If ever there was an argument for press regulation of the national dailies then it was my inability to buy a newspaper yesterday morning without a front page photograph of a glowing duchess, and intimate details of the early stages of her royal pregnancy.
If the Dear Leader came to his senses, went back to his 1979 roots to promise us a monarch-free republic after the referendum, I would carry his bag from now until after the vote.
David Fiddimore, Nether Craigwell, Calton Road, Edinburgh