Letters: Waverley is a train station not a shopping mall

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with regard to your article (‘Waverley Station tipped to become shopping mecca’ (News, June 24), there have been rumours circulating for months that Network Rail wanted to close the station to vehicles and to install retail units where vehicles used to go.

But Edinburgh Waverley is a train station, NOT a shopping mall (does Princes Street really need more shops?).

It is the interests of passengers, not shoppers, that should surely come first. Unfortunately Network Rail appears to have forgotten this.

The complete indifference, bordering on contempt, they have shown to the needs of their many disabled or elderly passengers cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.

Since the ban on vehicles from Edinburgh Waverley, Inclusion Scotland have been inundated with stories from our members, all of whom are disabled people with a variety of impairments, about the difficulties they are now experiencing trying to access the station.

Disabled people were already concerned about the station being inaccessible, but this ‘ban’ has made a bad situation even worse.

The difficulties faced by disabled people are vast and varied, and range from inadequate signage, long distances to walk to get in and out the station and lifts to negotiate, and taxi ranks with nowhere to sit and no shelter from the elements.

These can cause problems for everyone but in particular those with visual impairments and people with limited mobility, not to mention frail older people, people with heavy luggage or children in prams.

Furthermore, it is not only people living in Edinburgh and the surrounding towns who are affected by these changes. Edinburgh Waverley is a major transport hub. Disabled people all over Scotland and well beyond may need to pass through it at some time or other.

Scotland is a major tourist destination. Disabled people from all over the world need to have confidence in our transport system.

This year Scotland is hosting the Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and other events, meaning a huge increase in tourists.

We also have yearly events such as the Edinburgh Festival and T in the Park, among others. Is this really the welcome that Scotland’s capital city wishes to extend to its visitors?

At the best of times, train travel can be a far from stress-free and easy experience for disabled people, requiring advance planning, checking out access at stations, booking assistance and the perennial worry that the pre-booked assistance won’t show up and you’ll be left on the train.

The last thing we need is for yet more obstacles to be placed in our path.

Dr Sally Witcher, CEO Inclusion Scotland

Rising funeral costs spur need to plan

Figures released by Citizens Advice Scotland this week highlighted that Edinburgh is the second most expensive place to be buried in Scotland.

The report stated that the price of a funeral comes as a shock to many families and they may struggle to cover the fees and associated costs.

The price has risen significantly in recent years. At a time which can be very stressful, particularly if the bereavement was unexpected, additional financial worries are the last thing that’s needed.

There are ways to plan ahead for this. For example, funeral plans have become increasingly popular – with people paying into these schemes to help cover funeral fees and relieve their families of that cost.

Many people have views on how they would like their lives to be celebrated and our advice is always both to write these down and share them with the family. That’s enormously helpful to the family who might otherwise be trying to second guess what their relative wanted, another stressful situation. The information can be included in their Will or as a separate letter.

Having a Will and suitable instructions in place will ease the burden for those left behind.

Elizabeth Calderwood Member of Solicitors for the Elderly, St Andrews

Pensions can hardly get much lower

In response to the allegations by the ‘No’ Campaign that Scottish pensioners would be worse off with independence, I would like to present the following facts:

As thing stand, our UK pension is the second lowest in Europe and the spate of postponements, made and proposed suggest it will be paid on a “this year, next year, sometime never” basis.

Gordon Brown’s raid on private pensions has just about killed off final salary schemes and his abolition of the 10% tax rate means pensioners, along with everyone else, are taxed at the higher rate.

Where a pensioner, over a lifetime’s work, has sought prudently to build up a little nest egg, for investment purposes, of say £20 a week for forty years producing around £40K. Because of the outrageously low interest rates on offer for the last five years or so, the income expected has shrunk, from £2000 a year to a risible £600, if they are lucky!

It is small comfort to know that this is designed to bale out those who borrowed money for overvalued property they couldn’t really afford, from banks which didn’t have the funds in the first place!

For anyone who thinks 40 grand is a lot of money, let me point out that this sum was the cost of Kate Middleton’s wedding dress. It is also 4% of the sum the pugilistic Mr Joyce, Falkirk’s Westminster MP, claimed in expenses and 4% of the donation made to the No Campaign, by JK Rowling.

Perhaps most interesting of all, it is 0.0004% of what the UK Government is spending/misspending, every HOUR!

Joseph G Miller Gardeners Street, Dunfermline