Letters: Mindset behind Scots binge drinking needs examined

Scots favour cheap alcohol in supermarkets
Scots favour cheap alcohol in supermarkets
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Ian Swanson quotes Nicola Sturgeon telling us the link between price and alcohol consumption is irrefutable (News, March 15).

Yes, that’s market forces, and they work. Isn’t it a pity her government adheres to them so selectively?

However, Miss Sturgeon’s proposal is designed to disadvantage the financially challenged to protect the licensed trade, which has long moaned about the price differential between cheap alcohol in supermarkets and the prices they charge us.

By tinkering with a minimum price, isn’t the Government asking those on lower incomes to subsidise the licensed trade by buying off the supermarkets with extra profit to compensate for the loss of business lower consumption would bring, in the forlorn hope the reduced differential will see us drinking more in pubs?

Cheaper alcohol is already available in many countries across the globe which don’t have our drink problems.

If Miss Sturgeon’s serious about binge drinking, shouldn’t she be addressing the Scots’ mindset behind it?

Jim Taylor, The Murrays Brae, Edinburgh

London calling it right for rivers

I READ that London is working to regenerate its metropolitan rivers, creating natural flood plains in city areas that can not only help control flooding, but serve as recreational and environmental havens both for people and wildlife.

Meanwhile, concerned Edinburgh residents received assurances the scandalous clear-felling of trees along the Water of Leith in the name of flood control would be stopped, and tree-loss minimised.

These assurances have been overturned without warning or consultation, and almost all of the mature trees between Stockbridge and Warriston cut down. A substantial section of the Water of Leith Walkway, which had given walkers and cyclists shade and wildlife to enjoy, is now barren and rubble-strewn.

Imagine what such responsive and tactful politicians, with this degree of vision and attention to detail, could do with Scottish independence.

Deborah Rohan, Learmonth Terrace, Edinburgh

Filling in gaps on empty properties

I AM astonished at the negative reaction of some councillors to the idea that higher council tax should be charged on long-term empty property.

They seem oblivious to the damaging community impact of empty property, with higher risk of vandalism, fire-raising and an effect on nearby house values of up to 18 per cent.

They seem not to understand that higher tax would kick in only after a year of a property being empty, that it would be gradually increased and that it would come at the end of other reasonable efforts to persuade owners to make use of a property.

Liberal Democrat and Tory councillors seem ignorant that the UK coalition Government is currently legislating on a power to apply council tax at 150 per cent for empty properties in England. Meanwhile the SNP Government in Scotland consulted on similar powers at the end of 2011.

The city council knows nothing about the circumstances of empty property owners because, in contrast to other councils, it has never bothered to find out. It has sat on its hands for the last four years while the number of long-term private empty properties has soared by 64 per cent.

Cllr Maggie Chapman, Green spokesperson on housing

Menace of bikes on pavements

NO longer is the pavement strictly reserved for pedestrians, cyclists approach at speed, without a bell, as they go about their sacred task of saving the planet.

A few well-publicised prosecutions would work wonders, but it seems to be far down the list of police priorities.

Kyle McKibben, Craigleith Hill Gardens, Edinburgh