Letters: Same old concerns at Waverley development

Artist's impression of the finished Caltongate site. Picture: Contributed

Artist's impression of the finished Caltongate site. Picture: Contributed

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The well-know democrat Joseph Stalin once remarked that you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.

Well, anyone who has seen the top of the Canongate and New Street recently will have seen that there are lots of eggs being broken there as the New Waverley development gets fully underway.

The pity is that they are being smashed all around the brave folk who live there - yes, people still live around the Canongate despite everything.

So will the omelette be worth all the noise and dirt? Well, Cllr Frank Ross, city economy leader, thinks so. He said recently “Work at the New Waverley site is now very visible. The development will create thousands of new jobs including apprenticeships, as well as boosting the local economy.”

All we are sure of so far at New Waverley is three hotels. Most of the jobs will be low wage in the service sector. Are apprenticeships in bed making and hoovering the best we can offer our young people? Why is Cllr Ross so proud of that?

And how do hotels boost the local economy when they are owned by international companies and their profits disappear overseas?

One of the hotels will hide behind the facade of some nice, stone-built 1930s Canongate council housing - very sound and popular housing it was too until the council cleared out the residents and sold it to the developers.

This epitomises too much redevelopment in the city, especially in the Old Town, where long-term residents are being squeezed out by yet more hotels and student housing.

The council is fond of boasting that Edinburgh is a ‘living city’ not a museum. Not for much longer at this rate.

Jim Johnson, Kings Stables Road, Edinburgh

Murray misses point on Scottish VAT rates

Ian Murray’s plea for Scots VAT cash (News, September 17) is mere window dressing, as assigning VAT revenues means reducing the Scottish block grant by a similar sum but does not transfer the power to vary VAT rates.

The Smith Commission and resultant Scotland Bill is deeply flawed as it is piecemeal and does not give any future Scottish government the flexibility to change tax rates, other than limited income tax powers, in response to changing economic conditions or social priorities.

Despite Labour and Tory Better Together claims, the devolved powers fall far short of the ‘Devo Max’ or ‘near federal’ powers promised in the run-up to last year’s referendum. Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service don’t have the ability to recover VAT as do other emergency services across the UK and a level playing field for Scotland would free-up an additional £33 million to invest in frontline services.

Yet Ian Murray, pictured, failed to support the SNP motion at Westminster on June 3 to recover this money, although Jeremy Corbyn did so.

Also, many are upset that the UK government’s proposed Trade Union legislation and employment law is devolved to Northern Ireland, but Labour blocked it for Scotland in the Smith Commission and worse still, Ian Murray voted against the SNP amendment to the Scotland Bill that would have devolved employment law.

Fraser Grant, Warrender Park Road, Edinburgh

May election will hold council to account

The timing of the announcement to cut 2000 jobs by the SNP/Labour-run Edinburgh council seems to be cynically managed.

Both parties won a seat in the Leith Walk by-election two weeks ago to increase their majority, and both would appear to have withheld this information to help their campaign.

Even without this unfortunate news it was very disappointing to see the electorate not trying to give the opposition more voices to hold this hapless administration to account.

Unfortunately this is true in Scotland generally, where so many of the electorate do not see the benefit of having strong opposition and differing opinions, be it in Holyrood or representing Scotland at Westminster.

Hopefully voters will realise by next May that any administration should be judged by performance rather than rhetoric, and elect a significant number of MSPs from all the larger parties to restore democracy, rather than ending up with something close to a one-party state - never a healthy thing.

Mike Gray, Craigleith, Edinburgh

Putin pranksters should be ashamed

I was disgusted to hear that Russian television pranksters Vladimir Krasnov and Alexei Stolyarov have tricked Elton John into believing he was speaking with President Vladimir Putin about his country’s appalling record on gay rights. Shamefully they are proudly to broadcast their puerility on a state-backed TV channel.

Whatever you think about Sir Elton, gay people being victims of violence on the streets is no laughing matter.

Neil Barber, Saughtonhall Drive, Edinburgh

Where do SNP stand on new referendum?

I’ve lost count of how many factors have been cited by the SNP as justification for a second referendum or reasons to expect a surge in support for independence.

Can they please supply a corresponding list of factors that will have the opposite effect? At the very least, could they state which events would be conducive to independence and which are not, before they occur?

Richard Lucas, Broomyknowe, Colinton, Edinburgh