Letters: A £2 tourist tax is derisory - make it £8 and help fix our roads

Elizabeth Marshall says we need a higher tourist tax to help fix our roads. Picture: TSPL
Elizabeth Marshall says we need a higher tourist tax to help fix our roads. Picture: TSPL
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THE proposed £2 tourist tax is derisory - an £8 tax would be more effective and could go towards improving infrastructure, writes Elizabeth Marshall.

This week as I walked along Princes Street, I had to tread mighty carefully. Paving stones were loose (particularly bad just before the Halifax Bank when heading west).

Some stones are even broken, especially in George Street and other well frequented tourist areas. The roads are no better, as they sag under the weight of countless buses. Potholes and uneven surfaces abound.

The proposed £2 tourist tax is derisory if one considers not only the overuse and deplorable state of Edinburgh’s pavements and roads, but also what European cities charge.

An £8 tax would be more effective. It would not deter most tourists and would allow our battered and overused infrastructure some much needed, serious money to be able to effect proper sustainable repairs and an adequate long-term planned maintenance programme.

The present short-term infill of some potholes leaves our roads like the surface of the moon, while our worn and dangerous pavements surely fail basic health and safety standards.

These hazards are not just a two- day inconvenience for visiting tourists. They are a serious imposition on the residents of Edinburgh who have to endure trip hazards on pavements and car damage from our broken roads throughout the year.

There is a limit to how much destruction we can bear, as we see our city crumbling under the weight of the invasion of millions of people.

Elizabeth Marshall, Western Harbour Midway, Edinburgh

New tax obscures the bigger finance picture

Here in Edinburgh the proposed tourist tax has become quite a talking point with everyone making a claim on the money raised; arts groups want it spent on festivals while the tourist industry reckons it has first dibs.

If the extra revenue is spent on local infrastructure and public services, it might make a small improvement, but whatever, it’s all a bit of a distraction from the bigger picture.

Edinburgh is the richest city in Scotland – witness 25% of the city’s children in private education among other factors. It is also probably the country’s most economically divided – witness nearly a quarter of Edinburgh children officially living in poverty, most of them in working families.

Poverty is, of course, a nationwide problem for Scotland. Officially there are a million Scots living in poverty, most of them working .

This is a major reason why the Scottish Socialist Party has from its formation supported Scottish independence.

Our support for independence is also why we totally reject the recently published Growth Commission Report, which promises ‘more of the same’ after independence. More tax cuts for the rich, more cuts to public services and more wage cuts and zero hours contracts for the worst off.

We believe that to win independence next time we need to convince Scotland’s working class majority that it will seriously improve their material conditions by such measures as introducing a Living Wage of at least £10 per hour regardless of age and an end to zero hours contracts, replacing these with a minimum of 16 hours per week with an opt-out for the worker, but no such opt-out for the employer.

This latter measure would give greater security to the workers along with a greater degree of control over their own lives. These measures, along with public ownership of transport, energy and oil could radically transform the lives of millions of Scots.

To win next time, the Yes movement needs to convince the working class majority that independence is about more than a change of flags.

Michael Davidson, Scottish Socialist Party, Lothians branch chair, Edinburgh

Scotland must escape post-Brexit prison

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt compared the EU to the prison of the Soviet Union as it tries to prevent a member state from leaving. But the EU did not try to prevent the UK from holding a Brexit referendum, whereas Ruth Davidson has said Scotland will not be permitted to hold another independence referendum until at least 2027 under a Conservative government. Labour is no better, as Richard Leonard has also pledged to ignore a democratic decision of the Scottish Parliament.

This is seriously dangerous territory into which the Tories and Labour have strayed. To arbitrarily deny a legally mandated referendum in Scotland risks the breakdown of democracy itself as sovereignty in Scotland lies with the people.

Ruth Davidson was floundering when asked on STV to name anything positive about Brexit for Scotland and could only mention fishermen coming out of the Common Fisheries Policy, the terms of which were negotiated by successive Westminster governments.

During a quick glance at the half-empty hall for Ruth Davidson’s conference speech, I am sure the sign behind her read ‘Scotland needs to escape the post-Brexit Great British isolationist prison’.

Mary Thomas, Watson Crescent, Edinburgh

Plastic should not end up in landfill sites

many people use recycling bins, but the city council forget to empty them. Then they become a source of litter and items land up in landfill bins. Many times I have had to empty my plastics into the landfill bin due to the current ‘green bins’ being overflowing.

Come on Edinburgh council, stop shooting yourselves in the foot and get your act together! We pay you enough in council tax for you to at least give us a decent service.

Lyn Blackhall, East Preston Street, Edinburgh