LETTERS: Swinney’s hands tied by unfair taxation system

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Dr Scott Arthur’s critique, (‘Swinney ducked the big questions in SNP budget’ Letters, December 19), was unbalanced because it failed to note that the powers allocated by Westminster make it impossible for Mr Swinney to tax the rich appropriately without unfairly taxing the poor.

And if Dr Arthur could explain why my wife and I should not support the council tax freeze, we will be all ears. We are both retired and have to pay well over £2000 a year council tax from one of the lowest state pensions in Europe.

Our house attracts this high level of tax, not because we are rich, but because of an inflated market value beyond our control.

Because we have put aside modest savings we are not entitled to benefits. In my opinion this tax in its entirety is the problem, not the freeze.

Nicola Sturgeon may have set-up an independent commission to explore fairer alternatives, but without cross-party support, my wife and I won’t be holding our breath.

Personally, I would like to see a Scotland with a progressive tax system to address the ever-increasing gap between rich and poor and a council tax that is not a regressive system where the poor pay more in relation to earnings than the rich.

I would also like to see different spending decisions. Do we really need to spend billions of pounds on unelected monarchy, unelected lords, nuclear weapons and wars?

Jack Fraser, Clayknowes Drive, Musselburgh

Cameron is sleep-walking to EU exit

As a drowning man lashes out for something to hold onto, Prime Minister Cameron is desperately trying to salvage a deal from European Union leaders.

What started out as a fundamental ‘reform’ of our relationship with the EU has long since gone to the wall and the focus is now on restricting in-work benefits for four years to those from the EU coming to the UK.

This is pure cosmetic tinkering. As we know, those coming from the EU don’t come for the allure of EU benefits, a fact recently verified by the Office for Budget Responsibility, which said that this restriction on benefits would have a minimal impact on immigration.

Immigration from the EU makes a positive contribution to the UK economy, and yet the Prime Minister is irresponsibly failing to promote its merits and portraying it as a bad thing.

Cameron, who will be seen to be deeply wounded by this whole affair, must quickly begin to make the positive case for our membership of the EU or the UK will end up sleepwalking through the exit gates on an anti-immigration tide.

Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh

How to cash in on commuter parking

in the outer suburbs of the city (Colinton, Corstorphine, etc) drivers park their cars all day in residential streets and either work locally or travel into town by bus.

Occasionally cars are left for a few days or a week, the occupants presumably heading to the airport. Double parking on some streets makes life very difficult for bin lorries and more importantly emergency vehicles.

Recently I was discussing the problem with a man whose daughter lives in London near a large hospital and can easily rent out her driveway for £20 a day.

I am not suggesting that the residents of Edinburgh do anything illegal (tax avoidance) but it is an idea that some residents with suitable driveways may wish to consider. Anything that helps the parking of commuters all day in residential streets even in a small way is worth a try.

George Ritchie, North Gyle Terrace, Edinburgh

Buses reach places trams just can’t get to

I see the council is still trying to convince us that the trams are the greatest thing since sliced bread, They say that the service has received a 95 per cent overall customers satisfaction rating plus a 99 per cent reliability rating.

If this is the case, why are they afraid to hold a city wide referendum on the issue of expanding the service to Leith?

They also keep talking about huge profits. It will be years, if ever, before they clear the debt they have us in.

They have a limited number of stops, you almost have to climb a hill to get on, they drop you off in car parks. The buses have hundreds of stops and take you where you really want to go.

Yes, they will get busier during festivals and big matches at Murrayfield but that’s what tourist do in any place that has trams. Let’s see the real facts and figures.

Raymond Ross, Hutchinson Avenue Edinburgh

Capital’s gay scene is sadly lacking venues

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, with thousands of visitors every year and a growing gay community but offers them little.

As a gay man I feel disgusted that there aren’t enough venues catering to our needs and little choice. We have CC Blooms, which seems to have abandoned its trademark and the three bars, the Street, Planet and Habanna.

Glasgow has a downscale version of Manchester, with a choice of so many clubs and bars. Visitors to the city ask what the gay scene is like and when I tell them it’s rubbish, we have two clubs and three gay bars, they are shocked.

For a tourist city, shouldn’t we be welcoming gay visitors and offering them something more exciting?

Many say they won’t return, and like others, I’m looking to leave the capital for a better way of life.

Scott Carr, Tollcross, Edinburgh