LETTERS: Localism is way forward for allocating budgets

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Have your say

Gerry Farrell is quite right to highlight the success of ‘£eith Decides’, in allowing the people who know best – local residents – to decide how budgets are allocated locally (News, February 24).

Here in South West Edinburgh, we are completing our own first venture into “participatory budgeting”, with voting just having closed in the Grant a Grand scheme. This has seen 16 projects competing for ten lots of £1000 each, all of which focus on young people, from schools, scout groups and local community projects.

The scheme comes to a conclusion on Friday (February 26) with a results event at Carrickvale Community Centre (1-3pm). It’s an open event with music, sports tasters and face painting, so I hope lots of young people come along.

It’s early days for participatory budgeting in Edinburgh. A solid foundation is being built but still less than 0.1 per cent of city budgets are allocated in this way. Compare that to Paris, where the aim is for five per cent of budgets to be decided by people themselves by 2020. So lots of opportunities ahead.

Gavin Corbett, Green Councillor for Fountainbridge - Craiglockhart

All-female shortlists are undemocratic, Paul

Paul Edie has got it wrong (‘Equality vision’s bad for me but great for society’, News, February 22).

The proposals to be debated at the Scottish Lib Dem conference this Saturday on women-only shortlists for certain seats and insisting the top candidate on the European election list must be female, are not ‘radical’. Similar discriminatory suggestions have been debated – and defeated – at several previous conferences.

Centralised manipulation of candidate selection to favour one gender over another is illiberal, undemocratic, and demeaning to the favoured 
gender.

Liberal Democrats have always had equality of opportunity for all as a central tenet of policy and philosophy. Where is the equality for all in excluding men from standing for selection?

I want the most suitable, most capable candidates in the selection process, unconstrained by their gender.

When I have stood for selection as a candidate, I have always wanted to be chosen on merit, not on whether or not I have a Y chromosome.

I want to be able to choose candidates that I believe are best for the position from a field that has not excluded half of the potential applicant population. These proposals should be thrown out.

Jenny Dawe, Edinburgh city councillor 1997-2012, leader of the council 2007-12

Less packaging is the answer to recycling

In response to Dougie Cameron’s letter of February 19 regarding recycling and cycling: the reason bins go unemptied is because people keep buying products with huge amount of waste associated and companies keep selling it. The tax payer is left to pick up the bill for collection and disposal.

Before ‘plastic’, companies used to offer money for returning bottles to be recycled and the recycling was carried out using commercially established supply routes with no cost to the state.

Edinburgh City Council spending money to encourage cycling is surely a good thing. One only need look across the water to Europe to see what benefits mass cycling brings to a city in terms of healthy living, reduced pollution, enhanced environment and general wellbeing. Dare I mention Boris’s bike scheme closer to home in London?

Soon, there may be more plastic in the sea than fish. Edinburgh may indeed be an “asylum”, but judging by what’s going on in the rest of the world it’s as great a place as any to start making world-leading necessary changes to ensure sustainability in our lifestyles.

Quentin Dimmer, Belhaven, Dunbar

Internship and work for welfare is not slavery

Gerry Farrell’s references to slavery and its abolition (‘Were your ancestors slave owners’?, News, February 24) may have been more timely than he realised. For, after a ten-hour debate in the House of Commons, at 4am on February 24, 1807 the Slave Trade Abolition Bill was passed by 283 votes to 16.

And he is surely right to move from graphic descriptions of the barbarity of slavery in the time of Wilberforce to draw a parallel today with the human trafficking endemic in many parts of the world – even in parts of the UK.

All the more pity that in the same breath he has a pop at the practice of unpaid internship and Tesco employing workers under the Work for Welfare scheme

While we might understand his views, Gerry didn’t need to let his lack of perspective and balance spoil his otherwise excellent reminder of the depths of slavery.

Cllr Cameron Rose, City Chambers, Edinburgh

NHS bill is inflated

by religious services

The NHS spends £25m a year on religious chaplains: the equivalent cost of more than 1000 junior nurses.

Religious people are tax payers too but we pay into the NHS insurance pot to make sure, for example, that there is a brain scanner which we ALL might need one day.

Patients who might be comforted by religious words must of course be free to hear them, but why should everyone pay for a religious counselling service which will only ever be used by a few?

Antony Lempert, chair of The Secular Medical Forum has said “Our concerns are really about the conflation of religion and spirituality.”

The NHS must provide spiritual/emotional support for all patients but religious organisations can afford to fund their own specific pastoral care.

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society, Saughtonhall Drive