LETTERS: Private bridge operation will be less transparent

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Fraser Grant (Letters, December 14) is a little selective with his facts regarding the operation and maintenance of the current Forth Road Bridge in recent years.

While it is true that responsibility for the bridge rested with the Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) until June of this year, ever since the abolition of tolls in 2008 funding for the bridge has come from the Scottish Government – and, of course, they naturally have many other calls on the monies available to them.

FETA thus had to live with the reduced budgets available to them – and the hope that some works to the bridge could be postponed until the opening of the new Forth crossing late next year.

Indeed, at one stage FETA even considered raising some monies of its own again by allowing advertising on the bridge.

At least the decisions taken by FETA were all in the open. Now that responsibility for the bridge has been centralised and privatised by the Scottish Government, I suspect that public scrutiny of the bridge (and its new companion) under Amey will be less transparent.

Lawrence Marshall, Chair 2005-2007, Forth Estuary Transport Authority

SNP failed to act on bridge crack warnings

When presented with facts that they do not wish to accept, the SNP switch into denial and obfuscation mode. This was evident throughout the referendum campaign and has continued since.

They continue to claim that the crack which caused the closure of the Forth Road Bridge was unforeseen and was only noticed a week or so ago.

The facts are that a report in 2010 stated that the linkage system, of which the cracked member is a part, was found to be ‘significantly overstressed’ and that last February the bridgemaster banned vehicles weighing more than 150 tonnes from the bridge until load-bearing beams were strengthened or replaced. This work was not carried out.

Perhaps the crack did only manifest itself within the past week or two, but having spent my whole working life in construction I am in no doubt that the crack occurred as a direct result of the stresses transferred to that area and which it was, as forewarned in the report of 2010, incapable of sustaining.

We should all heave a collective sigh of relief that the consequences of the SNP cancelling the repair work in 2010 were not a lot more disastrous.

Donald Lewis, Gifford, East Lothian

Social enterprise is 
a benefit to us all

2015 has been the year for social enterprise in Scotland. The launch of the first ever census of social enterprises has demonstrated a thriving and growing business community.

Social Enterprise in Scotland: Census 2015 has been a defining moment. It gives us renewed confidence, a clearer direction, a better indication of where to direct business support and makes our messages clearer when talking to the public, media and politicians.

The headline results show us that there are over 5000 social enterprises in Scotland, employing over 112,000 people; 60 per cent have a woman as their most senior employee, with 68 per cent of social enterprises paying at least the authentic Living Wage (from the Living Wage Foundation).

2015 has been the year for moving forward with a vision and strategy for social enterprise for the next ten years. Key support organisations working in social enterprise have come together in partnership to develop a brand new vision, working with the census results, to focus minds and take us to the next stages.

As we look forward to 2016 we have a unique opportunity to raise our collective profile and influence the policies of the next Scottish Government.

The Holyrood election will be an ideal opportunity for our social enterprises to make their voices heard.

As we look back over the achievements of the past year it’s worth remembering that social enterprise is about creating a new type of economy and society that benefits us all.

Social enterprises are not just about helping certain excluded groups in society, social enterprise is good for everyone.

Fraser Kelly, chief executive, Social Enterprise Scotland, Rose Street, Edinburgh

Drawing a veil over future legal problem

The veiled woman who caused a trial to be postponed at Dunfermline Sheriff Court, by refusing to reveal her face when asked to do so by the Sheriff, raises important issues for Scots Law.

As Muslim women continue to advance in the legal profession, it is only a matter of time before we have a veiled sheriff, veiled procurator fiscal, veiled accused, veiled defence solicitor, veiled witness and possibly even a veiled forewoman of a jury in court.

What legal rights would a non-veiled accused, an atheist perhaps, have to see the face of his or her accusers and the sheriff who will pronounce the verdict and sentence?

Ian Stewart, Convener, Atheist Scotland, Park Avenue, Dundee

News-backed CPR training is a great idea

Following a recent Evening News article on a partnership with the Scottish Fire Service and the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to offer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training to the public at local fire stations, my wife and I went along.

The training takes about an hour and is based on an excellent BHF DVD (to take away) together with practice on a mannequin. Well worth it to potentially save a life.

Ian Hardie, Comiston Drive, Edinburgh