LETTERS: It’s time for a fairer way to calculate council tax

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Although I understand George Fairgrieve’s thinking that the council tax freeze could be lifted and the tax increased by 3% (Letters, October 26), his logic is misguided because anyone with a modicum of decency knows that this unfair Westminster tax in its entirety is the problem, not the freeze, because it is simply an exacerbation of a regressive tax system that sees the poor pay more in relation to earnings than the rich.

Perhaps Mr Fairgrieve could explain why I and people in similar circumstances should pay more council tax. Retired with a modest private pension and one of the lowest state pensions in Europe, thanks, not to Holyrood, but mismanagement at Westminster, I pay over £42 a week in council tax.

My house is high banded, not because I am rich, but because of an inflated market value beyond my control. This is not even a fair national value because a house in one area can be in a different band to an identical house elsewhere. So, someone far more wealthy than I can pay less tax for living in a similar house.

Let’s hope Nicola Sturgeon’s independent commission to explore fairer alternatives to the council tax can suggest replacing this unfair tax with an income-based alternative on the individual and his or her ability to pay, which would be efficiently collected at source to avoid non-payment.

A sliding scale where the richer pays more and the poorer less would not only be fairer, it could raise enough revenue to protect vulnerable public services and jobs.

Jack Fraser, Clayknowes Drive, Musselburgh

Compensation claim fears for new bike law

Brenda Mitchell, compensation lawyer, is still droning on about legislating presumed liability in favour of cyclists involved in accidents.

Readers may note interestingly that colleagues of Ms Mitchell currently have many claims in for cyclists against city trams. Ms Mitchell seeks to follow the Continental schemes of strict liability in future years if her reform proposals were followed, but is she willing to accept also the rigid tariff of pain and suffering awards that France has in place with its liability system? I suspect not.

Some more cynical readers may see this campaign for strict liability to benefit cyclists in future years as another good business move by compensation lawyers.

However, that would be a terribly cynical view, I am certain

Angus Logan, St Andrew Square, Edinburgh

Lib Dems can take heart from Canadian election

While I find most of political editor Ian Swanson’s article logical, I don’t believe he has correctly summed up why the Lib Dems lost so many seats in the general election (‘There is chance of a modest recovery in 2016’, News, October 21).

Around a quarter of the seats were lost to Labour, many which had been gained from Labour in 2010, and no doubt their alliance with the Tories played a part in some voters reverting to Labour.

In Scotland 10 seats were lost to SNP in the tsunami but the Lib Dems put up a far better defence than Labour, and five of the six closest SNP winning margins were in seats held by Lib Dems (Jim Murphy was the one Labour MP in the top 6 closely contested seats - most of his former colleagues were extremely well beaten).

More than half the seats lost by Lib Dems actually went Tory, not what you would expect if the electorate did not want a coalition.

The Tory strategy targeted 23 seats, 22 of them Lib Dems, presumably on the basis that a good Labour campaign would make it hard to gain seats from them, though they ended up with a few due to Ed Miliband’s lacklustre campaign, including the prized scalp of Ed Balls.

Millions of pounds were poured into campaigning in the 22 Lib Dem seats and many voters were duped into voting Tory, as the main way to prevent SNP gaining influence was to have a majority Tory government.

There did appear shock in many parties at the drastic reduction in the Lib Dem presence in Parliament, hence the huge increase in new members and quite a few local election wins in by-elections around Britain since May, including an SNP seat in Loch Ness this month.

There is no doubt Lib Dems have taken a battering but there are positive signs of recovery and great heart can be taken by the performance of the Canadian liberals who are the largest party after elections last week, after almost being wiped out at the previous election.

Michael Gray, Craigleith, Edinburgh

SNP treats councils better than UK rulers

Along with most readers I wish Danny Phillips and Unison the best of luck in his campaign to save local authority job losses (Platform, October 27).

However I am surprised that he is not aware that the SNP have fully funded the council tax freeze, as the impartial SPICe reported in September that ‘The money provided by the government to freeze the council tax has resulted in local authorities receiving more income than they would have done by increasing rates by RPI (retail price index).’

Despite having a 10% cut in real terms to its budget in the last five years, the Scottish Government is treating local authorities far better than the UK government since 2010.

Also, Unison must be very disappointed that Labour peers in the House of Lords merely abstained rather than voted to stop the tax credit cuts, which were designed to remove some £1300 from the lowest paid working families. The successful amendment merely delays the inevitable Tory plans.

Fraser Grant, Warrender Park Road, Edinburgh