Helen Martin: Who will tackle the hate-filled football thugs

Rangers fans in full voice at Ibrox. File picture: John Devlin
Rangers fans in full voice at Ibrox. File picture: John Devlin
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THE story of a Hibby reader who wrote to me offers a good insight into how authorities are actually supporting bad behaviour at football matches rather than clamping down on it.

At Ibrox at the end of last year, he was “disgustingly” verbally abused, tried to make a complaint to a police officer ... and was told to “move away”.

With the chant of “die you Fenian b******s” ringing around them, he asked the officer why he wasn’t noting his complaint, whereupon he was threatened with arrest for “breach of the peace” if he didn’t return to his seat.

He did – and was pelted with coins, lighters, bottles and cans. Another officer witnessed this missile assault so naturally, my reader asked him what action he was going to take against the perpetrators.

None, was the response. Instead he was advised to write to his MP.

Individual police are probably scared to do their job lest they become the victim of a mob attack, but leaving real victims defenceless is not an option.

If the football industry (for that’s what it is) won’t spend its own gate and TV revenue on stopping vile behaviour, or suspend the teams who attract such criminal followers, we have a choice.

Send in the army – or at least be honest and put up signs around the grounds saying the law doesn’t apply within stadiums where such teams are playing, spectators enter at their own risk, the police will not help them and it’s every man for himself.

We pay price as they pay politics

WE live in a small house but in what most people would regard as a fairly “posh”, conservation-area part of Edinburgh.

Outside our gate there is a large dip, a hole where the pavement has collapsed, surrounded by a patchwork of different types of surfaces where it has been badly “repaired” over the years, and the surrounding streets, bar one which had a recent makeover, are pitted with potholes.

One side of the street has been dug up for a week for gas main repairs (not complaining about that because the squad were hard-working despite the weather and brilliantly accommodating to residents). But that left the other side as the only route for those with prams, wheelchairs, motorised scooters, sight loss or any other difficulty.

The street lights are now weak LEDs – great if you are directly under them but hopeless in between.

So I was walking home about 10.30pm last week, on the “safe” side, and unfortunately on the day our recycling boxes were supposed to be collected. I say “supposed” because they often aren’t until the wee small hours of the following morning . . and sometimes not at all. So no-one knows when to bring them in.

The “safe” pavement was full of boxes and bins, some empty and left lying on their sides, some piled up still awaiting collection – at least three per household which actually means six per gate as many are two-storey flats or conversions.

I could squeeze past them and the plethora of poles bearing signs about speed limits or parking rates. But had I been elderly, suffered from poor vision or disabled in any way, I’d have had to walk on the badly-lit road.

That’s one little glimpse of the way Edinburgh is run and some of the services we pay for but don’t get. Dear knows how bad it must be in areas less “posh” where people are less likely to complain, daren’t because they owe a bit on their rent or council tax, or simply accept they won’t be listened to.

The latest council budget, as well as destroying the economy by imposing the highest parking charges outside London and clobbering those who have to pay for residential parking permits, is also further reducing the money spent on road and pavement repairs . . . while splashing out uncontrollably on trams, Edinburgh’s Christmas and New Year, which always runs at a loss, and cycling infrastructure which though worthy is a luxury item, among other “projects”.

We suffer from bad Council management, both current and historic, expensive inquiries into corruption and incompetence, and a skewed view of priorities. We have lost our statutory repairs scheme, public services have been cut back, we are now out-sourcing care of the elderly, redundancies in the council will make it even harder for us to contact the departments we pay for when we need help or information, to name just a few of our losses.

In my life, through both boom and bust years, I have lived in seven local authority areas in the UK and I can honestly say Edinburgh has been the worst I have ever experienced at providing services for rate payers. Emptying this lot, come the elections, is an absolute imperative. We desperately need councillors who put their responsibilities to residents above their own wannabe political ambitions.

Scotland needs Brexit strategy

THE EU is now exerting more control over the UK than Westminster is over Scotland. Anyone who really believes in independence should vote for Brexit in the referendum. Failing to do so is simply swapping one master’s stranglehold for another.

No need to say sorry

CHIEF nursing officer Fiona McQueen had nothing to apologise for after she praised breathtakingly good nursing care and condemned nurses who were rude, unprofessional and inarticulate. That’s what she’s there for.