Letters: Traffic-free Princes St is a road worth travelling

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I write to urge everyone to support the cycling campaign group Spokes’ recommendation for a traffic-free Princes Street in order to encourage cycling for locals and tourists.

If the unique appeal of Princes Street is to be maintained, heavy traffic, buses and cars must be removed, and walkers, trams and bikes allowed to mingle safely and efficiently.

For too long the wishes of retail chain outlets and motorists have been served at the expense of low-impact sustainable transport users. This must change.

The council’s plans to re-design some of Princes Street to encourage pavement catering and pedestrian zones are welcome, but they will not work unless there is a sea-change in the atmosphere and feel of the street, to pacify the racing traffic and turn down the volume.

Chain-store shareholders and motoring lobbyists will doubtless demand that traffic remains at fever pitch to boost their profits.

But the cost will be the final destruction of Princes Street as a special destination in Europe; the ruin of a historic street worth visiting for holiday as well as shopping, and a missed chance to establish a calm, safe transport corridor for trams, walkers and bikes.

Bruce Whitehead, Hillwood Place, South Queensferry

No-one looks ‘in awe’ at Britain these days

It was rather surprising to note the comments by UK foreign secretary, William Hague, that many other countries are “baffled” by the desire for Scottish independence and are “in awe” of Britain.

One wonders if Mr Hague would care to name these countries as the UK’s role in Iraq – an illegal war which cost the lives of more than 100,000 civilians – has not led to the creation of many friends.

Likewise, the recent rendition flights reportedly using Scottish airports hardly puts the UK in the most appealing light. Contrast this with Norway, which was involved in brokering negotiations with the Taliban.

Last year it brought the Columbian government and Farc rebels to the table and prior to this was involved in the secret meetings that led to interim peace accords between Israel and Palestine in 1993 and in 1996 brokered a peace accord that ended the 36-year-old civil war in Guatemala.

Rather than being part of a state which is viewed as a pariah in many corners of the world – the UK – an 
independent Scotland has the opportunity to reverse many of the UK failures of the past and be seen as a force for good in the world and an example for what remains of the UK to follow.

Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh

No threat of nuclear blast from Torness

Your report about Torness (Nuclear alert? Keep taking the tablets, News, June 20) confused advice given in the past about protection from blast and radiation from atomic bomb attacks with that given to those who live near nuclear power stations.

A nuclear power station cannot produce a nuclear explosion. In the worst case, at Chernobyl, it can produce a chemical explosion spreading radioactive material.

However, I know of no way in which a reactor at Torness could explode (their design inhibits such an accident).

The Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors, of which Torness has two, are the safest in the world and have given good and safe service to the UK since they were first introduced in 1976.

There is no need to extend the danger zone beyond 15km.

Steuart Campbell, Dovecot Loan, Edinburgh

Sleep-walking into bizarre new fashion

What’s with young women wearing pyjamas in the street, in supermarkets while pushing babies in buggies?

Am I missing something new and trendy or what? Do these ladies go to bed at night with the same attire as they wear through the day?

Have they stopped washing themselves? A lot of questions I know, but can somebody please enlighten me?

Isa Duncan, Dumbiedykes, Edinburgh

Religious education has no place in class

I DON’T think religion should be taught in schools. Kids are there to be educated, not brainwashed about religion.

I was raised a Catholic and educated in a Catholic school, but I learned more about life when I left school than I ever did in the class.

I had no interest in religion, especially when you had to start every period saying prayers, and you had periods when a mother superior would come into class and talk about committing mortal sins and shouting fire and brimstone.

I left school at 15 determined to forget religion.

My motto is “When you’re dead you’re dead, end of”.

J Douglas, Bryce Road, Currie

Miliband taking away power from people

LABOUR leader Ed Miliband has made no secret of his refusal for a referendum on the UK’s EU membership.

With this stance, he has proved beyond all doubt the Labour Party is no longer a party for the people.

Alan Lough, Boroughdales, Dunbar

Singing praises of Sopranos legend

I WAS sorry to learn of the death of the American actor James Gandolfini – who starred in The Sopranos – at the age of 51 after he suffered a heart attack earlier this week while on holiday in Rome.

What a shame – my condolences are with his family at this sad time.

James was a grand actor and will be much missed indeed.

June Fleming, Hercus Loan, Musselburgh, East Lothian