Letters: Unlocking square potential can put city in great shape

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The idea to move the First Minister’s official residence is a stroke of genius (Alex eyes Calton Hill move, News, October 7)

It’s a unique opportunity to showcase entrepreneurial Scotland, blending private sector with public to generate the long overdue revival of the elegant Charlotte Square, combined with the means to transform the Governor’s House into an attractive and useful facility.

Bute House is a treasure owned by the National Trust for Scotland, but not fit for purpose as the official residence of our First Minister.

Would it not be possible to have control of Bute House fully transferred to the National Trust, conditional upon it agreeing to sell it to a new private joint venture involving the three multi-millionaires who largely own the remainder of the square (Murray, Scott and Lopatinsky) and have been champing at the bit for many years to be allowed to unlock its potential commercially?

In a controlled and tasteful manner, using precedents set by other UNESCO Heritage sites worldwide, they could cooperate to invest further into the square, structured in such a way to secure its ongoing conservation for future generations, whilst in parallel reviving the West End.

Graeme Allan, Easter Warriston, Edinburgh

Tax rebate would soften tram blow

ONCE again the citizens of Edinburgh, particularly those living in close proximity to the tram works, are subjected to the mess, noise, inconvenience and a reduction in residents’ parking for which many of us have experienced an almost trebling in cost over the past year.

This is over and above what must be a huge increase in our collective carbon footprint. We are also witnessing the Haymarket junction being dug up yet again and not an inch of tram line is to be seen.

The blow could be softened by our council awarding residents directly affected by the work a council tax rebate for the loss of amenity, stress and inconvenience caused.

This would be a very small drop in an ever-increasing financial ocean.

Harvey D Frew, Coates Gardens, Edinburgh

Gaelic school is best outcome

WHILE welcoming the generally positive tone of your article “City must find extra £1m to pay for Gaelic school” (News, October 6) on the creation of Edinburgh’s first stand-alone Gaelic primary school, one integral point was missed.

Not only has the Scottish Government in the face of steeply rising repair costs in the last year nearly trebled its original offer of £700,000 to £1.8 million, it has increased the specific grant money it gives the city each year to develop Gaelic from £300,000 to £400,000.

This is extra money that the council can now use to offset the cost of borrowing almost all that’s needed to repair the damaged Bonnington school.

A stand-alone school is now recognised as the best outcome educationally, and means Gaelic Medium Education can continue to be offered to the ever-increasing number of parents who choose bilingual education for their children.

Councillor Stuart McIvor, vice convener of the Education, Children and Families Committee

Surprise over Pictish claims

In your issue of October 3, you ran an item under the heading “Village gets its Pictish cross back after 1500-year break”. It came as something of a shock to learn that the village in question is Aberlady in East Lothian.

The new sculpture is just that, a modern replica, the cross being pure conjecture, as all that survives of the original is a section of what was probably the shaft.

The effort in re-creating an ancient sculpture is commendable – the shock is that it is claimed to be Pictish.

For a start, there is scant evidence for Picts south of the Forth. Only one Pictish stone has been discovered here, doing service as a footbridge in Princes Street Gardens. Its original site is not known.

Graeme Cruickshank, Edinburgh Historical Enterprises