Heading homewards of an evening through The Meadows, Edinburgh’s public park, used to be quite pleasant and relaxing at this time of year, but it’s turned into a lightmare - a lighting nightmare.
Pedestrians and considerate cyclists are being subjected to an unwelcome succession of dazzling ultrabright LED lights, often in a variety of disturbing flash modes.
Extreme cyclists who use such overpowering front and rear lights claim it’s so they can be seen among traffic on our roads, but how can they possibly justify using them on routes free from motor vehicles?
RM Atkinson, Argyll Terrace, Edinburgh
Student housing growth is not answering needs
Recent reports of the £24 million deal for USAF (Unite Students Accommodation Fund) to purchase the student accommodation at 123 Fountainbridge, should give cause for concern.
These purpose-built, privately owned blocks are described as providing affordable accommodation for students. Affordable?
Ensuite rooms in a shared flat costing around £160 a week / £690 monthly, or a studio flat at £215 weekly, this is not affordable housing.
By restricting land use to student purpose-built blocks, developers appear to be exempt from other residential development regulations, which can lead to pressures on other local council and NHS services as they face increased demand from the student population.
Providing affordable and appropriate housing for the growing student population should be of public interest and should take more account of the diverse nature of the student body.
At the University of Edinburgh, one quarter of the student population is over the age of 25 - many of these are postgraduates, often with families and other commitments.
Housing needs will vary greatly as students and university staff make their homes in the city. It’s about ‘homes’ not just ‘accommodation’.
The city council is reviewing the mix of tenure in the city as part of its business plan for the future.
However, while student accommodation provision sits outside the goals of providing affordable housing for all, the reality is one of high rents and very limited housing options, and this must be addressed.
Students are citizens too.
Ann Henderson, Dorset Place, Edinburgh
Leave energy storage plan to private sector
I am horrified that Innovate UK is pouring £650,000 of public money in to Gravitricity Ltd’s trials of using large weights in deep shafts to store energy.
The concept is simple enough: electric motors are run to lift the weight when electricity is available and later the weight is allowed to descend turning the shafts of the same motors to regenerate electricity.
The practicalities raise many questions not least about the shafts. Do they plan to use former coal mining shafts or create fresh ones? How will the shafts be kept stable and free of water?
Such schemes for the storage of electrical energy are a result of attempting to rely on the inconsistent output of wind turbines for large scale electricity generation. The electricity from wind turbines is subsidised, which drives up the cost of electricity to the consumer resulting in increasing fuel poverty.
Real power stations, whether coal, gas or nuclear fuelled, do not need these energy storage devices. They produce cheaper electricity round the clock whether the wind blows or not.
Such a financially speculative venture should rely solely on private sector investors risking their money.
Otto Inglis, Inveralmond Grove, Edinburgh
Tax rises are no help to Scottish economy
Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England has warned that interest rates could double this year. This is as a result of increased UK growth figures and likely rising oil prices and pay settlements which might combine to cause the economy to overheat.
The UK economy is increasing at 1.7%, which is three times the 0.6% being seen in Scotland.
There is precious little chance of Scotland’s economy overheating, but an increase in interest rates will make Scots face higher mortgage rates, more expensive borrowing generally and a further squeeze on already stretched household budgets.
With all this in mind, what does our SNP government do? They make things worse for us all by increasing income tax rates and property taxes to the highest in the UK, compounding the potential financial hardship already affecting hard working families and constraining growth in business and the Scottish economy.
Sheer economic madness.
Donald Lewis, Gifford, East Lothian
We Scots are not second-class citizens
I was appalled to learn from the press that the Westminster Tory Government regards the people of Scotland as second class citizens by not allowing the Holyrood MSPs to have proper sight of their Brexit assessments.
I can’t help suspecting that the Tories have something to hide. They appear to be extremely muddled about just what they do want. I am under the impression that Labour are not very clear either.
When we have an established market with our near European neighbours, Brexit is like a bad dream.
We do urgently need independence to save Scottish jobs.
Susan Swain, Innerwick, Dunbar