Letters: Revoking daft laws worth raising glass to

Ladies enjoy an outdoor drink. Pic: Phil Wilkinson
Ladies enjoy an outdoor drink. Pic: Phil Wilkinson
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Edinburgh City Council and Police Scotland may be on a collision course in regard to the drinking of alcohol in public places (your report, September 20).

The council wants to retain the “cafe culture” feel of the city centre, allowing drinking at tables in the streets outside restaurants, cafes and pubs – knowing that this is a major attraction Edinburgh has for high-spending continental visitors who are already familiar with it.

A woman wearing a niqab. Picture: Getty

A woman wearing a niqab. Picture: Getty

Police Scotland, on the other hand, having cracked down severely on open-air drinking in Glasgow, can hardly be expected not to do the same in Scotland’s principal city – and have reacted by invoking an existing Edinburgh by-law to confront who it perceives as problem drinkers, stating “the by-law will be enforced whenever and wherever it is appropriate to do so”.

The council is responsible for imposing and revoking by-laws. If the police use a power given to them in a way a council never intended, the answer is simple: the council has a duty to dump or amend the by-law. Take the law toys away from the boys – there are far too many of them anyway.

I am more than 60 years old and am probably subject to three times the “thou shalt not” laws I was born with.

Am I safer, more secure or healthier than my parents as a result? I doubt it!

It is time that councils and Parliament were constrained by statute to rescind one law for every new one they enact. That would concentrate a few minds.

David Fiddimore, Nether Craigwell, Calton Road, Edinburgh

If only pub trade got same commitment

Council leader Andrew Burns is right to try to protect Edinburgh’s outdoor drinking culture . . . shame he doesn’t try to protect Edinburgh’s publicans and club owners though with the same amount of passion and verve.

Granting 5am licences to Eton toffs The Underbelly and other similar border raiding companies during the festival is a kick in the teeth to all those who have to eke out a living in this much maligned and threatened trade 365 days a year.

Time please on this practice, nip it in the bud and give the cities licence trade back to its licensees.

Donald Macleod, Manse Road, Linlithgow

Chief should engage rather than alienate

As a retired police officer I find it shameful the way that the chief constable of Police Scotland appears to dictate to local communities the way they should be living. Of course the law must be upheld but surely the crimes that cause most concern to the local community should be targeted.

He would do well to remember who employs him. If the leader of the Capital city of Mr House’s policing area has concerns about how the city is being policed then something is terribly wrong, even if it is just communication.

If a city is being dictated to by a chief constable, I cannot see how local policing issues will be addressed. He needs to engage, not alienate society.

Barney Macfarlane, St Mary’s Place, Edinburgh

We should face up to issue of wearing veils

I DON’T always agree with Helen Martin but her article on the veil (News, September 23) speaks some home truths.

If we are approached by a stranger our instincts try to maximise our reading of that individual’s body language and facial expressions so if these are hidden we might be forgiven for fearing some malign intent.

The state has no right to prescribe dress code to anyone as they keep their own company but that changes if they approach another individual in a library, a bank or a school.

We must also protect institutions, such as our courts, from being compromised in their ability to communicate with someone in a mask.

As Ms Martin points out, substitute the veil for a balaclava or a Batman mask and there would be little disagreement about where it should not be worn.

We tiptoe around this issue for fear of seeming disrespectful of someone’s religion. Some women may say they chose to wear the niqab, but we must keep an eye on when religious freedom becomes religious privilege.

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society, Saughtonhall Drive, Edinburgh

Labour has been panicked into U-turn

While the eventual U-turn by the Labour Party on the “Bedroom Tax” is to be welcomed, it has only taken it six months of confusion, twists and turns to come to a position on what is quite clearly a damaging and unfair tax.

Labour was in fact panicked into making this announcement in fear of looming bad headlines over internal splits.

The fact it has taken this long to make any decision, after all the contradictory statements we’ve heard, is evidence that we cannot trust this one.

In addition, we know from their past history that the Labour Party cannot be trusted to keep the policies they are forced into.

In 1997 they cut single parent and disabled benefits and we know Alistair Darling reneged on a Labour promise to introduce a wind chill factor to payments for cold weather payments, another policy Labour was pressured into.

The only guaranteed way for Scotland to get rid of the Bedroom Tax is with independence.

Independence will ensure that Scotland’s welfare policy is in Scotland’s hands and allow us to address other punitive welfare cuts from a Tory government we didn’t vote for.

Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh