Letters: ‘Botanics strives to have something for everyone’

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YOUR article on Friday about the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh being “too middle class”, I believe, misrepresented our visitors. It also misrepresented and possibly offended those who haven’t yet discovered us or choose not to visit.

On a positive note, it was heart-warming to see the reaction of Evening News readers, with 95 per cent of those who answered your poll declaring that “No, the Garden is not too middle class, it’s a great day out for anyone.” Many of your readers made points which I support – that “anyone can visit the Gardens”, “it’s a peaceful haven in a busy city” and “free”.

The Botanics strives to provide something for everyone. This includes fun events which are often free. It’s an ideal place to let children run around, to enjoy peace and quiet, and to look at or learn about plants and trees.

I hope that Dr Jenny Roe’s research will help us to appeal to even more people, particularly those in communities who’ve never thought that we are here for them. Jenny will help us to understand the barriers which might include things like busy roads or lack of buses (as another of your readers stated).

The project will aim to find ways of creating a bridge between us and our neighbouring communities. It will also hopefully inspire a new nature play facility for children. For adults, it will perhaps highlight the health benefits of spending time in the Garden.

Thanks to Evening News readers for your feedback. We hope to welcome you, whoever you are and wherever you live, to the Botanics in the near future.

Professor Stephen Blackmore CBE FRSE, Regius Keeper and Queen’s Botanist, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Inverleith Row, Edinburgh

Pandas being used to boost visitor numbers

After months of stories about love tunnels, hormone changes, mood music and panda porn, such diversionary tales are now exposed as crass attempts to boost publicity for Edinburgh Zoo and increase flagging visitor numbers.

Zoos put the “con” in conservation by trying to hoodwink the public into thinking they are doing something worthwhile by warehousing endangered species, but they are not. Only one zoo-reared panda has ever been reintroduced into the wild – and that unfortunate animal died within months.

Anyone who genuinely cares about the future of pandas and other endangered animals should steer clear of zoos, which started as menageries that took an enormous toll on wildlife, both during capture and transport from foreign lands, and have become boring little prisons.

Instead, compassionate people should donate the entry fee to genuine protection programmes in the animals’ natural homelands, like anti-poaching patrols and habitat preservation.

Ben Williamson, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Society Building, All Saints Street, London

Time to get tough on tax dodging firms

The UK Government has allowed foreign energy companies to dominate our electricity supplies.

No wonder prices are rising.

Now it has been revealed that energy giant NPower has paid no UK corporation tax for three years despite making £766 million in profits.

It would be interesting to find out what other foreign-owned energy companies have or have not paid.

NPower is also building wind farms to reap the eye-watering UK subsidies using foreign steel, foreign engineers and 
foreign labour.

Do the directors or these workers pay UK tax? What about the foreign shareholders?

Time to get tough on these “tax havens” by threatening nationalisation unless they all pay a proper share of UK tax.

Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow

No room for church in making public policies

Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s confessions only underscore the classic notion that homophobia is sometimes manifest of homosexual repression. Despite anger at his hypocrisy, given his well-known anti-gay rhetoric, I feel a little sorry for him.

Born into an age and culture where the Catholic church might have been seen as an escape from his sexual discomfort, it seems such a waste that at 74 O’Brien has missed out on a lifetime of love, opting instead, at least publicly, for protestations of Catholic dogma.

The serious issue is that the Catholic Church is in disarray over issues of transparency and accountability and continues to lose what little moral authority it retains in the eyes of some.

Their private views, however out of touch, are their own concern, but why should this institution still hold power over public policy and be responsible for the education of large numbers of our children?

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society, Saughtonhall Drive

Cycling scenario is worth consideration

A question to Brenda Mitchell (News, April 22).

Scenario: I have recently arrived from a foreign land, neither speak nor read much English. I get on a bike and while cycling along the pavement I’m forced onto the road. While on the road, I go through a red light, hitting a car in the process. Luckily I’m not too badly hurt, so I can run away without any confrontation with the motorist.

Unfortunately the vehicle has suffered some bodywork damage, but surely his insurance company will pay for it.

I am writing this with tongue in cheek, but sadly it’s something that has happened in real life.

Your thoughts, Brenda?

Ian Stevenson, Chancelot Terrace, Edinburgh