Local government legislation passed by UK governments in pre-devolution days, and not changed since 1999 by the Scottish Parliament, requires that Scottish local authorities appoint three external non-elected religious representatives to their education committees.
The council has now, following the May 3 elections, accepted nominations from the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Scotland and decided upon a third religious nominee after a vote in the council meeting of May 24, 2012. This means that not only can these representatives participate in the normal business of the committee, but they can potentially determine the outcome of decisions, such as school closures, when the parties on the committee are divided over them.
While the reasons for this state of affairs are historical there clearly needs to be a major overhaul of the arrangements. Why should religious representatives have places on the committee, but not parents or representatives of school support staff?
Following close inspection of the procedures for making these appointments I have registered official complaints with the City Council.
The appointment of the third religious nominee was made after a vote among the councillors. I contend in my objection that this appointment was not made according to the high standards that are normally expected of public appointments in the council. There was a debate about which individual should be appointed which involved hearsay about the candidates and, as far as I can ascertain, no interviews.
There are also questions as to whether the list of local religious groups to which councillors must have reference when making the appointment was complete and adequate. Why were Sikhs but not Muslims listed?
One wonders too if councillors should have interviewed the single candidate nominated by each of the two preferred churches to see if they were of sufficient standard.
Clearly there is a need for a fundamental review of these procedures by the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament so that in the next local government elections higher standards of appointments to these important committees prevail.
Norman Bonney, Palmerston Place, Edinburgh
Political union not same as social one
I AM delighted for Richard Andrews that he enjoyed the Diamond Jubilee celebrations (Letters, June 8), but his misconception that future celebrations would somehow be curtailed by Scottish independence is a damning indictment of the lack of history teaching in our schools.
On independence, while the political union of 1707 between Scotland and England would end, the social union would remain with the Queen as head of state. This is because the Union of the Crowns of 1603 would still exist. The Union Flag would also remain as this dates from 1606 and as such precedes the political unification.
Mr Andrews calls those who are in favour of Scottish independence “separatists”. As someone in favour of independence I do not want Scotland to separate, but to participate in the United Nations, the European Union and the institutions of the world, to work in partnership with the rest of the UK. We are weaker together, but stronger apart, and independence will ensure the full potential of both Scotland and England is finally realised.
Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh
Give tram workers a break!
Why are commuters so incensed that tram workers can park their cars in an empty Princes Street (News, June 8)?
No-one else could park there anyway and tram workers are freeing up other spaces in the city centre they would otherwise be occupying. We’re all annoyed by the trams project, but this complaint is just downright petty.
Louise Robinson, Craigentinny