Letters: Seagull cull not answer to problem we caused

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I read with dismay the article on starving seagulls in the city (News, August 12).

I understand that they can be pretty frightening and people have had alarming incidents of dive bombing and birds stealing food out their hands. But to call for a cull is 
taking things too far.

If we cannot keep our streets clear of rubbish – which is clearly something the city council struggles with, as photos in this paper have shown – then what on earth do we expect? And to decide to kill the creatures who are taking advantage of this rubbish seems an outrageous solution to a problem we caused ourselves. Keep the streets clear of rubbish and the gulls will move on to the next food source.

Of course, there will be a period of adjustment. This year’s gulls have clearly bred with the encouragement of recent food stocks in mind. Once taken away, they will become more aggressive because there is less food to go round. But if we address the rubbish issue now, next year fewer birds will breed, or they will move on. Animals won’t keep breeding regardless of food supply. Take it away, and the birds will go away too. Then not only is the problem of seagulls solved but we will also have nice clean streets.

Veronica Noble, Morningside, Edinburgh

Riding of Marches has little to do with horses

Riding the Marches looks like fun and I’m not surprised there is a lot of support in Edinburgh for reviving this ancient custom (Horsing around on Royal Mile, September 9), but it seems an odd way to commemorate a disaster like the Battle of Flodden. There’s nobody quite like the Scots for 
re-inventing their history.

Also, although such stories are often illustrated with pictures of horses, the word “riding” in this case, from Old Norse rythja, has nothing to do with horse riding and actually means checking and fixing for another year the bounds of the parish, making sure that the people of the neighbouring parish have not moved your march-stones, etc.

The only genuine Riding of the Marches I have ever taken part in was in a little village in Germany at Martinmas in 1978. It took place in the evening, so we carried coloured lanterns, and there wasn’t a horse in sight.

Harry D Watson, Braehead Grove, Edinburgh

All city parks should be kept at same standard

Mr David Ramsay apologised for having a moan about grass cuttings
not being lifted from Edinburgh parks (News, September 6). I don’t believe that any apology is 
necessary at all.

I contacted Councillor Eric Milligan last year about the deplorable state of the grassed areas where I live. The grass is left to grow too long before being cut and then the cuttings are never lifted. This makes the footpaths, especially in inclement weather, slippery and quite dangerous to walk on.

When I moved into this area, about 18 years ago, the grassed areas were kept in a very good condition with snowdrops and crocuses planted in many places; the deterioration is now obvious.

My beef with Edinburgh council is that if the grassed areas in the city centre, especially Princes Street Gardens, can be kept in pristine condition, and rightly so, why is the rest of Edinburgh not kept in the same condition? We as Edinburgh’s 
taxpayers deserve no less.

I wait in eager anticipation of this being 
implemented in the near future.

Elizabeth Henderson, Whitson Walk, Edinburgh

Banter with auld enemy is not racism

Re Joe Logan’s letter (Mela director’s words are disappointing, News, September 3), well, I felt disappointed reading his letter.

He quoted the director as saying “People come down here from all over the city and Scotland, and dare I say it, south of the Border” and chose to interpret the use of the phrase “dare I say it” as “insipid racism”.

I believe this remark could be interpreted differently. When I read it, I presumed that by “daring to say” people were coming from south of the Border he was daring to think big, that his festival audience came from far and wide, even from outside Scotland.

However, even if my interpretation is incorrect, to accuse him of racism is going too far. For one, the indigenous people of Scotland and England are all white Europeans, so to say that it’s racist to pick on someone merely for hailing from elsewhere in the UK is simply wrong – at worse it is a prejudice based on nationality, not race.

I realise that some people have experienced anti-English bullying at the hands of Scots, and vice-versa, and I don’t mean to make light of this, but in the most part, the banter between the two countries is good-humoured, a friendly rivalry with the “auld enemy”.

Mr Logan’s letter disappointed me because while real racism still exists in the world – when people are being killed merely for the colour of their skin – to use the same word to describe a bit of good natured humour between two friendly countries (of the same race) is an abuse of the term “racism”. Anyone who had experienced that sort of hatred and prejudice would not use the word lightly.

While I believe there must be a zero tolerance of racism in society, I also despair at those who seem to look for it where it does not exist and seek to take the moral high ground on issues which in fact undermine the 
seriousness of real racism.

G Fraser, Stockbridge, Edinburgh

Cameron should spend £52m in aid at home

While David Cameron strokes his humongous ego by giving Syria 
£52 million in aid, when is he going to start looking after the people in his own country who are struggling to survive due to his spending cuts?

Look after your own people before you go abroad, Mr Cameron.

Alan Lough, Boroughdales, Dunbar, East Lothian