Letters: Tram extension will only increase debt

Additions to the tram line could happen in future. Picture: Jane Barlow
Additions to the tram line could happen in future. Picture: Jane Barlow
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Councillor Frank Ross, the city’s “economic leader”, believes that a tram extension to the south side is a “no-brainer” (News, May 27).

Councillor Ross belongs to that breed of local politician who rises gloriously to the challenge of how to spend endless amounts of public money on questionable projects, rather than to the challenge of how to implement the £120 million of service cuts required over the next three years.

The budget cuts, the hideous tram construction and the £1.5 billion of council debt resulted in this administration promising no more publicly funded major projects during its term in office. How duplicitous it is that the Labour/SNP administration has nevertheless forced through a new £61.4m loan for the St James Quarter, the repayment of which will commence after the next council election once the development is complete?

The reason for this loan, which will cost the city £4.77m annually for 23 years, is that the developers, TIAA Henderson, “need to ensure its investors receive ‘normal’ (market) returns from its investment”, ie, our already squeezed council funds are to be used to further boost private developers’ profit.

Here is a radical thought for our “economic leader”: economic success does not rely merely on tram extensions or topping up private sector profit, but on such things as decent housing; a highly-educated and skilled workforce; well-maintained buildings, pavements and streets; a clean and cared-for environment; and a transport system that allows everyone to travel quickly, cheaply and easily.

So, before we find ourselves committed to tram extensions, can the council please get down to fixing the things that are wrong in the city and getting its existing debt under control?

Mrs A Bourne, Edinburgh

Is it Putin’s control of media Alex admires?

Alex Salmond has said how much he admires Vladimir Putin.

It would be helpful if he could tell us what part of Putin’s aggressive nationalism and thuggish patriotism he most admires. Did he feel this way before or after Putin’s annexation of Crimea?

He obviously envies Putin’s control of the Russian media, as shown by his concern about the amount of media coverage about UKIP beamed into Scotland, which he blames for the UKIP’s gain in Scotland.

Perhaps Alex Salmond is playing the long game, expecting Russian loans and investment for a separate Scotland.

Joan Green, Ferry Road, Edinburgh

Clubs are better run by fans than businessmen

While it is very disappointing to see the current plight of both Hibs and Hearts, the fact of the matter is that due to mismanagement for many a year, on and off the pitch, both clubs may only have themselves to blame.

These days football is all about business and money but from the chairman to the charlady both clubs might do well to be run by people who are as passionate about the club as the fans who are the lifeblood of the club.

Hearts to their credit appear to be moving in this direction with their goal of fan ownership, but only time will tell if it works out for them.

Football aside though, will Edinburgh as a city suffer negative knock on effects due to the decline in fortune of two of its biggest sporting institutions?

Angus McGregor, Albion Road, Edinburgh

Cameron would rather avoid EU referendum

Despite the public making it clear that they want out of the EU and the UKIP party winning at the European elections on the basis of that promise, David Cameron has made it clear that although he is giving us an EU referendum in 2017, his actual desire is to remain in the EU and instead “claw back some powers for Britain”.

In other words, he will give us a referendum on the EU but it isn’t because he wants to, it is because he simply doesn’t have a choice.

If this is democracy then I’m the all-time top goal scorer for Wigan Athletic.

Alan Lough, Boroughdales, Dunbar, East Lothian

When can we see SNP’s plan for tax system?

A report from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland expresses concerns regarding the costs and complexities of setting up a new tax and benefits system in an independent Scotland.

They say that if New Zealand’s experience is anything to go by it could cost £750 million and probably a lot more.

John Swinney’s response, predictably, is that Scotland will have a simpler, more cost effective and cheaper system. I have no doubt that a costing has been prepared by the SNP on this major issue and I am sure the Scottish voters would like to know what the figure is.

Over to you Mr Swinney, but why do I think I shouldn’t hold my breath for a definitive reply?

Donald Lewis, Beech Hill, Gifford, East Lothian

A9 safety cameras can’t come soon enough

It’s not before time that work has begun to install new safety measures on the A9, which is one of Scotland’s most notorious roads (News, May 27).

As construction has started on an average speed camera system on the stretch of road between Perth and Inverness it is hoped the system will be live by October.

There have been many accidents which have ended in fatalities on the dangerous A9 road. No doubt improvement is needed in order to prevent any more serious accidents or fatalities happening.

June Fleming, Hercus Loan, Musselburgh, East Lothian