LETTERS: Council still contravenes Scottish privacy policy

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Once again, City of Edinburgh Council is proving to be guilty of deliberately hoovering up residents’ personal information (‘Residents urged to contact council online’, News, September 19).

With its new ‘Save time - do it online’ campaign, it is urging residents to use the council’s website to report issues, such as problems with street lighting, potholes and litter.

Unfortunately, anyone who attempts to log on to the website will soon discover that to report such a simple problem they will be forced to register for their own ‘my account’ account, supplying their date of birth and other personal information.

However, in a similar recent correspondence regarding phone enquiries to the council, I pointed out to Cllr Alasdair Rankin that such a policy flatly conflicts with the Scottish Government’s own Identity Management and Privacy Principles (Version 2.0, October 2014).

For the first policy states: “People should not be asked to prove who they are unless it is necessary. A person making a general inquiry about a service should not need to provide any identifying information.”

Following this, the second principle is entitled: “Ask for as little information as possible.”

Cllr Rankin has never explained why the council should be so blatantly ignoring such straightforward, unambiguous recommendations from the Scottish Government.

So until the council provides an additional anonymous method of logging on online, I would caution people to steer clear of this privacy-unfriendly website.

Dr John Welford, NO2ID Edinburgh Co-ordinator, Canonmills

Davidson is right to back UK’s place in EU

As Scotland’s oldest dedicated pro-European campaigning organisation, at the forefront of the fight to keep us in the EU, we were heartened to see Ruth Davidson’s call for a ‘positive case’ for continued EU membership (September 22).

The benefits of our EU membership are plentiful and over the months ahead we will be laying these out. Whether it is climate change, energy security or international trade, decisions taken by the EU are more effective than the ones made by 28 individual states.

As an example, European decisions helped us to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions by almost 90% over the last 40 years. And last week the EU unveiled its stance on the upcoming climate change negotiations in Paris, recommitting to its own greenhouse cuts for 2030 and urging the world to reduce emissions to zero by the end of the century.

The EU has also provided important social protections for workers in Scotland and across the continent, be it the 48-hour minimum working week or minimum-paid annual leave.

The EU single market of 500 million people, the largest in the world, is vital for businesses, with over 330,000 Scottish jobs dependent on our exports to the EU. It also allows the freedom to travel, study and work across the EU, bringing many benefits to Scotland.

The peace, stability and prosperity that the EU has brought to Scotland through our membership is to be absolutely cherished and we would be delighted to join with Ms Davidson in promoting the positives.

Derek Hammersley, The European Movement in Scotland, Walker Street, Edinburgh

Home building needs a united strategy

Scotland’s housing crisis has been brought into focus this week as the UK Government announced it wants to see a million homes built across England by 2020 in order to tackle the problem there.

With Scotland facing the same challenges, we must have similar ambition here, where the number of new homes built has fallen by 40% since 2007 and numerous reports highlight the requirement for hundreds of thousands of new homes over the next 20 years to meet the diverse needs of our growing population.

Achieving this, however, requires the necessary support to increase delivery. Crucial, for example, is an efficient and responsive planning system which facilitates housing delivery. While this is being considered by the recently announced independent panel undertaking a ‘root and branch’ review, time is of the essence. Action on infrastructure, skills and access to finance for both buyers and builders is also key.

Only through such joined up policy-making, will we ever be able to ensure Scots have access to the wide range of quality housing options they deserve.

Philip Hogg, chief executive, 
Homes for Scotland, New Mart Place, Edinburgh

Forget referendums and get on with the job

AleX Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon continually say they believe in democracy, that being the case it is now time they practise what they preach.

Last year we went through a decisive referendum campaign leading to many arguments and falling out, some of which will take years to heal if at all.

This referendum was presented to the electorate as a once in a generation event. Salmond, Sturgeon and co lost that vote as the Scottish public voted decisively to remain part of the United Kingdom.

I for one am sick to death of them continually griping about the outcome instead of moving on and getting to grips with what they were elected to do and run our country, a job they are not doing very well, with continuing problems in many core services such as Health, education and law and order.

Can someone please tell them to do that they were elected to do and earn their salaries working on behalf of all of us Scots, not just the minority who shout the loudest.

Mike Piper, Blackhall, Edinburgh