The city council is quite right to take action on the rising number of private sector empty homes (News, September 6).
There are three main things that the new council task force needs to do if it is to reverse the tide. Firstly, it needs to make sure it has decent information about the location of long-term empty homes and understanding from the owners why the properties are empty. That includes the blocks of newly-built flats that have been sitting idle for years.
Secondly, it needs to look at all the ways it can support and encourage those owners to use their properties. That is about targeted advice, access to loan finance, if needed, and match-making services such as those offered in adjacent councils.
And thirdly, it needs to take firm action on those homes which are causing neighbourhood concerns. The Scottish Government’s Community Empowerment Bill offers the prospect of a specific power to bring empty homes into use; and by next April councils will be able to use council tax to ensure that the tax system sends out a clear signal about long-term “empties”.
Homes lying empty serve no-one well: not people on house waiting lists, not communities and not the owners.
Maggie Chapman, Green spokesperson on health, social care and housing
A positive view of Salmond vision
I DOUBT if Dave Cochrane (Letters, August 27) heard Alex Salmond’s speech on broadcasting as the EastEnders reference was made tongue in cheek.
The First Minister explained that, post devolution, Westminster control of public service broadcasting in Scotland was out-of-date in this multi-channel digital age, and that even if Scots opted to remain in the Union, post 2014, control of Scotland’s broadcasting should move north. He went on to say that “an independent Scotland would build on the BBC Scotland infrastructure and staff to create a broadcaster fit for the new Scotland”.
Viewers and listeners will still get access to BBC London’s output just as they do in Ireland.
BBC Scotland is set to lose 120 posts by 2017 in a push to reduce its budget. No wonder the output from the already under-resourced outpost seems poor at times.
A Scottish broadcasting service would create more choice, greater creativity and increase broadcasting jobs in Scotland.
Fraser Grant, Warrender Park Road, Edinburgh
Full marks to the caring ERI staff
After having spent nine days in ward 207 of the ERI I cannot praise the staff enough.
The care I received was second to none from the cleaning staff to the consultant. I was treated with dignity and respect with every aspect of my treatment explained to me. Even the food was quite good with a reasonable choice . . lots of tea and sympathy dished out by busy staff who always had time to make you feel special, despite some of them working up to 12 hours a day.
So let’s have some support for hospital staff instead of moaning about them.
Ann Ejjaouani, Edinburgh