LETTERS: Councils must be more efficient at collecting tax

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ToWN hall bosses have failed to collect more than £1.4 billion of council tax, despite threatening to cut vital public services.

Official figures reveal some of the councils which had hoped to hit householders with a rise in council tax are the worst at chasing defaulters.

Moray Council, run by a coalition of independent and Tory councillors, originally planned a rise of 18 per cent, but its collection rate was 93.4 per cent in 2015-15, down from 94.6 per cent the previous year.

South Ayrshire Council, led by a Tory minority working in partnership with Labour refused to rule out a council tax hike. It had a collection rate of 94.8 per cent compared with 96.4 the previous year.

Other councils are in the same boat, like Labour-run Dumfries and Galloway; Labour-run Fife Council, which debated a possible 7.5 per cent tax hike.

Our councils are constantly asking for more tax, so they can spend more. They really do need to show us that they can be efficient in collection before any of us can believe that they are capable of looking after our money properly. Then maybe they would not have to cut services.

James Hill, Stenhouse Avenue, Edinburgh

Britain’s shameful role in bombing Yemen

WE are concerned that the war in Yemen has been underreported in the UK and people might not be aware of the horrors being inflicted upon the population.

More then 5000 civilians have died in the conflict, many as a result of Saudi-led airstrikes on the country. Amnesty International has uncovered evidence that UK-made missiles were used to destroy a ceramics factory - a civilian target - and that schools have been deliberately targeted, with more than 1000 destroyed beyond use. The targeting of schools which are not being used for military purposes, as these weren’t, is a war crime.

The UK continues to sell arms to Saudi Arabia and recent legal opinion from eminent lawyers confirmed that the continued supply of weapons and equipment which could be used to commit abuses in Yemen, breaks the law. There is a real risk that the misery of civilians in Yemen was ‘Made in Britain’.

Please join with Amnesty in calling on the UK government to immediately halt these appalling arms sales.

Readers may wish to sign an online petition at www.amnesty.org.uk/actions/uk-stop-selling-arms-saudi-arabia

Theresa Loughran and others, Portobello Amnesty International

Edinburgh’s World Heritage status at risk

POSITIVE action is needed if Edinburgh is not to lose its World Heritage status. Unesco has already identified seven sites that are ‘deeply worrying’, but there are many more potential minefields to investigate.

Our planning system is not fit for purpose, drastic changes are needed.

The proposed RBS ‘pavilion’ scheme in Dundas Street is imaginative but does not fit into the New Town grid. Why not?

Then there is the Canonmills Bridge development. Planners oppose it, politicians rejected it and local people loathe it. Why is it still going ahead?

Ian Lutton, Boswall Road, Edinburgh

Keep nuclear weapons off our city streets

MIDLOTHIAN MP Owen Thompson is absolutely correct to attack the Ministry of Defence after it confirmed that convoys of nuclear weapons travel through urban areas with no warning signs (News, February 23).

The SNP MP first raised the issue following reports of at least two incidents in which convoys had been spotted near Penicuik, including one when the weapons were parked only yards from two schools.

It is very concerning that nuclear convoys are passing through our town and cities. This practice must be stopped for the safety of the public.

Mrs June Fleming, Hercus Loan, Musselburgh

Paying an unfair share for tenement stair

I AM a pensioner, 80 years of age. I own my own home. There are six families in the stair.

Last year the council fitted a new door entry system to the stair and sent me a bill for £1000.37p

I have not used the stair for 15 years as I have my own front door, which was put in with a disabled ramp for my wife who was in a wheelchair.

Why should I have to pay for something I am never going to use? There is no way I can afford that kind of money.

James D McLennan, Marmion Crescent, Edinburgh

Working people pay price for banking crisis

THE worldwide financial crisis started in the USA, creating huge debts everywhere. These were not caused by working people.

The Conservative Chancellor George Osborne has said repeatedly over the past five years that he has ‘a plan’.

If you were unsure about the objectives, you cannot now be unaware. The working population is not only to pay the debt, public services will be cut again and again and there will be further selling of public property to private investors.

The Conservatives now see no need to hold back carrying out their ‘plan’ and feel safe in doing so.

They now have the audacity to claim they are the party for the working person. This can never be.

The partial support at the general election must be falling away now they are putting into practice their real intentions. That support must haunt those who voted for them.

Mr A Delahoy, Silverknowes Gardens, Edinburgh