Letters: Old College’s new library plans are bittersweet

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It is exciting to see the University of Edinburgh finally renovating Old College – home of the School of Law. Being a traditionalist, it is sad to see the old staircase walked by students and professors since the 1790s retired and the library moved from the second and third floors to the first floor.

If I had the money, I’d donate to renovate the Old College with research space on the second floor, as it gets pretty depressing in winter without much sunlight. I’d also push for more Georgian décor and elegance.

The new interior will be lots of glass and the thin, shiny desks popular in Scandinavian design. Perhaps the result will be a chiaroscuro of Old World façade and Modern European interior. The Old Library and Lecture Theatres had a certain homey feel, which will be fondly missed, as the more modern design looks quite institutionalized.

I wish the law student library could be as grand as the Playfair, Trinity College Library, Bodleian Library or the Schwarzman NYC library on the interior.

My fear is that the Scandinavian Modern design will be out of vogue in a decade or so and that even if not, there is a high likelihood it will not stand up well to the wear and tear of student and academic use.

As far as funding goes, I am surprised Edinburgh did not seek the help of a billionaire underwriter, someone like a Stephen Schwarzman, who founded Schwarzman Scholars and donated to have the NYC Mid-Manhattan library restored to its full glory.

I’m pleased to send in my small donation, but it seems the leadership of the University has not fully tapped the big money floating in the private sector.

When the work is completed I look forward to visiting my alma mater and seeing Old College. The quadrangle project was fantastic, so perhaps, the library, faculty offices, and lecture theatres will be the same.

Matthew Soper University of Edinburgh Alumni, Austin, Colorado, USA

Trade deal is another threat to society we must fight

Many people are involved in local campaigns to protect the NHS, oppose fracking or tackle fuel poverty.

The EU is secretly negotiating a trade deal with the US which would affect all of these issues and more. If the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is agreed, it will give big business the right to sue the UK government over legislation that they believe might reduce their profits.

This would mean a future UK government could be sued for trying to return the NHS to full public ownership. It would make a freeze on energy prices, proposed by some politicians, difficult if not impossible to achieve. And it would lead to a fracking boom, as more and more ‘fracked’ gas is imported into Britain.

Awareness of the dangers of the deal is growing, and groups like the World Development Movement are coming together to oppose it. I hope readers will share my concerns and join the campaign to protect the rights that we have established as citizens.

Katie James, Millar Place, Edinburgh

High-sugar foods need a higher tax rate

The absurd decision to classify Tunnock’s Snowballs as cakes rather than confectionery, thereby avoiding VAT, provides our leaders with the opportunity to change the tax laws in order to promote healthy living.

Henceforth all cakes, biscuits and other comestibles packed with sugar should be subject to VAT, preferably at a higher rate (say 25 per cent). Indeed all ‘foods’ which are deleterious to health should be taxed similarly.

Dr Graeme Riddoch, Rothiemay, Banffshire

Will independence weaken the Paras?

Regarding your referendum and out of interest, I spent some of my younger years in the finest unit in the British Army, The Parachute Regiment.

A large proportion of the Scots regiments transferred to the Paras, and there can be no question these were some of the finest soldiers in the army and could be used in any situation.

Some of my best friends came from Glasgow. If the Scots go it alone, what will happen to this great team of soldiers, will they still be part of the British Army? It would be a sad day for the Paras if there were no Scots in it.

I live about as far away from Scotland as you can get but still show a keen interest in our friendship.

Frank Pearce, Hampshire County Councillor, Hayling Island

Time to call a halt to wind turbines, Alex

Wind farm capacity in Scotland, both output from turbines already built and those given planning approval, is sufficient to meet the Scottish Government’s target of 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity from renewables by 2020.

The Scottish Government is so fixated with wind turbines that it refuses to curb further development and instead ruins our landscapes.

Does Alex Salmond think that he is going to sell the highly expensive wind electricity, surplus to our needs, south of the Border?

Does he think that the English like the Scots so much that they will be eternally grateful for Scotland’s expensive electricity and pay over the odds?

They can buy nuclear from France at a fraction of the price.

Does he not realise that if there is a ‘Yes’ vote the English will refuse to subsidise Scottish wind turbines and Scottish electricity bills will rocket?

Electricity cannot be stored, so surplus production will be sold at a huge loss or discharged into the ground as is happening in Denmark.

Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow