Letters: Garden waste charge is a cynical back door tax

Waste of time: The council is compromising its environmental record, writes Neil Barber. Picture: TSPL
Waste of time: The council is compromising its environmental record, writes Neil Barber. Picture: TSPL
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My neighbours and I were disappointed to be told of the City of Edinburgh Council’s plan to charge for ­garden waste collection from October.

All gardeners feel we are doing our bit for clean air and quality of life.

Rather than increasing general ­council tax, this proposed fee targets only citizens with gardens, which is surely not how taxation works: I have no children but I understand why we all pay for schools.

With its bizarre system of stickers on bins to prove that we have paid, how long will this new infrastructure take to cover its own costs?

Registration is only possible online, again unfairly discriminating against confused elderly citizens who might be tempted simply to put garden waste in the landfill bin or cement over their green spaces all together. Where would rainfall go then?

From a council which has always had a commendable record on environmental issues, this is a cynical and ill thought-out back door tax.

Neil Barber, Saughtonhall Drive, Edinburgh.

Tories’ Brexit civil war is toying with our lives

What an extraordinary collapse there has been in Cabinet discipline over the last few weeks, if you believe the ­reports.

The Foreign Secretary attacking the Chancellor for pointing to the ­economic damage which would be done by a hard Brexit, and the Chancellor dismissing the Foreign Secretary’s comments.

The Foreign Secretary describing the Prime Minister’s plan for Brexit as “crazy” and saying “f*** business” ­after Airbus warned that 11,000 jobs are at risk, and 100,000 more in the supply chain, from a bad Brexit.

Another Minister contradicts the Foreign Secretary, saying that business is entitled to comment when millions of jobs and the country’s economy are at risk.

The Prime Minister ­slapping down the Foreign Secretary while a former leader of the Tory party compares businessmen to Hitler supporters.

The Defence Secretary boasting to astonished armed services chiefs that he “made” the Prime Minister (in his previous job as Chief Whip, in charge of Tory MPs who ­voted Theresa May into No 10) and equally he can now “break” her.

The forthcoming meeting of the Cabinet on Friday at the Prime Minister’s country home, Chequers, to ­hammer out a policy (any policy) on Brexit sounds like an Agatha Christie.

It’s a bunch of upper-class people gathering in a stately home, with multiple hatreds and hostilities as several of those present plot to knife their hostess and inherit her role as the master of both Chequers and No 10.

Perhaps Hercule Poirot will gather everyone in the library at the end to announce who did it, although with so many suspects, even he might ­struggle.

Perhaps it will instead be like Murder on the Orient Express, in which the ­solution is that everyone on the train had a hand in stabbing the victim.

Or, if you prefer a more 21st century simile, it’s like Love Island but with even more rivalries – you could call it Hate Island.

Yet while these people play politics, real jobs and real people are on the line.

Phil Tate, Craiglockhart Road, Edinburgh.

Gordon goes back to his old anti-indy tricks

Rather than returning to his 2014 Project Fear script, Gordon Brown (News, 2 July) should at last apologise for burdening our NHS health boards with his expensive PFI scam, including the £1.5 billion repayment bill for Edinburgh Royal Infirmary that cost £226million to build.

Gordon Brown also misrepresents the Growth Commission’s findings as it specifically rules out austerity. However the report is based on a very ultra cautious growth rate of 0.5 per cent, which is lower than Scotland’s current growth, and assumes zero oil and gas revenues for its analysis, at a time when the Brent Crude price is almost $80 a barrel and would contribute several billion a year to a Scottish government.

Brexit remains a much greater threat to the NHS than independence ever could be. Scotland is currently under-performing, and there is little reason to doubt that this will continue to be the case unless change is made. Under successive Westminster governments, the UK’s woeful performance on ­income per head, productivity and ­regional inequality is holding Scotland’s economic performance back.

Staff numbers in our best performing NHS system in the UK are increasing and investment is increasing as a share of the Scottish government’s overall budget.

This might explain, despite mostly negative media coverage, why patient satisfaction with Scotland’s NHS is overwhelmingly positive and contributes towards the latest opinion poll ­results which show the SNP 14 per cent ahead of the Tories with Labour back in third place.

Fraser Grant, Warrender Park Road, Edinburgh.

Colleges will cope without Gillian Martin

The withdrawal of Gillian Martin’s candidacy for the post of minister for further and higher education has led to handwringing about how the sector will manage over the summer months without a minister in post.

On the whole, colleges and universities manage perfectly well without intrusions from politicians. I’d be ­surprised if those running these institutions had not breathed a sigh of relief at the prospect of a respite from political intervention.

Jill Stephenson, Glenlockhart Valley, Edinburgh.