Letters: Statutory notice chaos leaves us all in the dark

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As a homeowner at the wrong end of the statutory notice system, I am shocked and amazed at the massive squandering of money by the city council.

Gordon Murdie’s letter (News, January 18) mentions the additional £150,000, but not that this is on top of the millions already paid out for the so called ‘Deloitte Report’ which has been effectively hidden from public view. The number of additional staff and external consultants employed to deal with statutory notices has escalated and this at a time when all city councils are seeking savings.

Scaffolding at these premises was dismantled in September 2009. Despite an estimated cost of £330,00 (obtained through an FOI request) there has been no bill, very limited communication and only two meetings in the last four years. It is almost as though the city council is waiting for people to die off so that they can raid their estates unopposed.

All requests for an update have been fobbed off with the usual excuse “these things take time and we will come back to you in due course”. This is not fair to those involved, it is not fair to rate payers and quite frankly belittles the people of Edinburgh and destroys any credibility that the city council might ever have had. Could any private company survive this attitude? And if we were in America so many stress claims would be lodged that the city council would go bankrupt.

Affected homeowners are unable to sell their houses without leaving substantial retentions to cover any future costs, in our case up to £30,000 per flat, thereby weakening our ability to purchase other properties. We are unaware what, if anything, we will eventually have to pay and accordingly cannot plan any financial future. This is very unsettling even for a few months, let alone for up to five years or more.

Edinburgh’s statutory notice scheme, though started with good intention, has turned out to be one of the biggest scandals ever in local government. Much of the structural work instructed and supervised by council has proved unnecessary, overpriced and of poor quality. Thousands of people are affected, many lives have been ruined and still the council deliberate as to how best to hide its incompetence.

The council is spending good money after bad and it is high time officials got their act together. Millions of rate payers’ money has been squandered in a hopeless gamble to recoup money questionably due to Edinburgh City Council, but unlikely to be retrieved.

Bruce Thompson, Comely Bank Place, Edinburgh

Would Yes vote be the end of Team GB?

ON Sunday on TV we watched Andy Murray and a victorious Great Britain team beating the USA in the Davis Cup to put GB into the quarter-finals of the competition.

Would I be right in thinking that Andy, or any other top Scottish sports star, would not be eligible to compete in ‘Team GB’ were Scotland to vote for independence? Perish the thought. Another good reason to vote ‘no’.

Dr Ann C Chandley, Comely Bank, Edinburgh

Free public transport is answer for Scotland

It appears that commuters are ditching public transport in favour of their car. While walking and cycling are clearly to be encouraged, we are in Scotland, and the weather, as well as the extended hours people have to work, limits this option. The cost of public transport means that if you already have a car then the savings are questionable.

Whilst in parliament, the Scottish Socialist Party proposed free public transport. It would pay for itself through savings in health care, road maintenance and congestion.

It would cut carbon emissions, air and noise pollution. Improve social inclusion and general wellbeing. Isolated communities and tourism would also benefit. Inexplicably the Greens opposed it.

Paul Jordan, Scottish Socialist Party, McNeill Street, Edinburgh

All-women shortlists are undemocratic

There is rich irony in simultaneous reports of David Cameron’s frustration over Tory constituency parties failing to select female candidates and of his favoured MP Anne McIntosh being deselected by her local association for not fulfilling her constituency duties. That’s despite Cameron regarding her as “one of the party’s most assiduous MPs”. Different priorities, perhaps?

Ominously, Tory MP Sarah Woolaston has a solution: “If we can’t sort it out by 2015, we should shift to all-women shortlists.”

Apart from being fraught with difficulties, this would be undemocratic. Their ability to do so, being exempt from European law banning discrimination, is one of many ways in which politicians separate themselves from the rest of us. Another exemption is from current austerity measures limiting public sector wages and staffing levels (think House of Lords).

Separate constituencies for male and female candidates makes no sense unless applied to the whole country and to all parties, which would pave the way for the next logical step towards establishing a political ruling elite. Having limited the electorate’s choice of candidates in this way, politicians would progress naturally towards central party selection, with candidates simply imposed on constituencies.

Robert Dow, Ormiston Road, Tranent