Letters: Festivities being run at expense of city traders

Edinburgh's Christmas  stalls on The Mound.   Pic: Ian Rutherford
Edinburgh's Christmas stalls on The Mound. Pic: Ian Rutherford
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As former traders at Edinburgh’s Christmas market who were all refused stall space on Princes Street Gardens, we write to express our extreme concern about the organisation of this year’s Edinburgh’s Christmas to the detriment of local independent businesses.

Edinburgh City Council’s finance and budget committee approved a £1,297,456 contract to Unique and Underbelly in February 2013 to “produce” Edinburgh’s Christmas. Underbelly has interpreted “produce” to mean operate bars – its own bars.

A newly installed solar meadow  at Edinbugh College, Dalkeith. Pic: Phil Wilkinson

A newly installed solar meadow at Edinbugh College, Dalkeith. Pic: Phil Wilkinson

There are 17 bars in the Princes Street Gardens and Mound area operated by Underbelly and their German coalition. In St Andrew Square there are seven bars, all operated by Underbelly and the Germans. There is a surfeit of bars serving identical drinks.

In Princes Street Gardens, the prime location for sales, there is only one Scottish trader. As most stalls are replicated three or four times by Underbelly, there is a dearth of choice of merchandise and foodstuffs. Despite being subsidised by the city council, the rides, drinks and food are more expensive than in previous years.

What is the city council’s policy regarding promoting local businesses and local produce? Why are Edinburgh rate payers paying one organisation to run all their own bars at the expense of local traders who were all refused the right to sell any alcohol from their stalls unless as off sales?

The £3.80 mug of gluhwein from one of Underbelly’s multiple bars in St Andrew Square bears the logo “Edinburgh’s Christmas” – but perhaps a more representative mug should read “Underbelly’s Christmas”.

Moray McAndrew, Nell Nelson, The Original Edinburgh Mead Company; Geoff Terry, Mutley’s Crepes; Arran Smith, Orkney Highland Beef; Jolene Taylor, Tartan Cafe

Renewables are like cuckoos in network

I WAS horrified to learn of the proposal to deploy nine “solar panel meadows” around Edinburgh (News, December 12). Photo-voltaic panels on house roofs are bad enough, but fields of them are disastrous.

All renewables are cuckoos in the network, driving out some conventional generation and making what’s left inefficient and even more costly. Moreover, they disturb the network and make control difficult.

Because of the huge subsidies and the feed-in tariffs provided to encourage their development, renewables are like Robin Hood in reverse: the poor consumer has to pay for the rich developer to profit from these very costly schemes. Is that fair?

We know about the intermittency of wind farms, but solar energy is also intermittent: no sun at night and little in cloudy weather!

Nor is northern Europe the best place to collect solar energy.

The whole idea is daft and we should not put up with it.

Steuart Campbell, Dovecot Loan, Edinburgh

Civil servants used wrongly for guide

There are aspects of the independence White Paper that raise profound legal issues. The papers mix proposals for constitutional change with party political propaganda.

Civil servants who are supposed to be politically neutral appear to have been involved in an unprecedented way in preparing an election manifesto for a governing party to fight the Scottish Parliamentary elections of May 2016, whether or not the country is by then an independent state.

The current Scottish Government was elected under the Scotland Act of 1998, the principles of which were approved by referendum the year before.

Under these rules the Scottish Government has no legal powers on constitutional change.

The SNP achieved a majority of seats in the Scottish Parliament in 2011 with about 45 per cent of the votes cast on a platform for holding a referendum on independence and that commitment is being respected.

But preparing the case for an independent Scotland is a very different matter from proposing policy for whatever government might come to power under such a scenario. If Scotland was independent there is no way of knowing what policies the electorate might support and the Scottish Government of the day might enact.

The policies proposed for an independent Scottish government in the White Paper are party political and civil servants should not have been involved in framing these parts of what is now officially to be renamed as the “guide” to independence.

The party political elements of the independence white paper are indications of worrying trends in Scottish Government and do not bode well for constitutional government in the aftermath of a possible “Yes’”vote. They provide yet another reason for voting “No” next September.

Norman Bonney, Palmerston Place, Edinburgh

Store chiefs should keep out of politics

claims by chiefs at Asda and Morrisons that food prices would rise if Scotland votes for independence are nothing but political interference.

These people own the shops and the stock, but we the customers can take our business elsewhere if necessary.

Why can Aldi and Lidl, who trade across the continent, transport goods from Europe to Scotland and sell them in most cases at a lower price than Asda and Morrisons?

Is it because Aldi and Lidl chiefs are doing their jobs properly and not poking their noses into Scottish politics?

George Packwood, Duddingston Park South, Edinburgh

Superb actor O’Toole will be sadly missed

It is sad news Lawrence of Arabia actor Peter O’Toole has died aged 81 while he was being treated for a long illness (News, December 16).

He was a superb actor and will be much missed.

June Fleming, Hercus Loan, Musselburgh, East Lothian