Letters: Licensing critics forget our individual liberty

Have your say

As a Licensing Board member, there seems to me a fundamental problem with those rounding on the convener of Edinburgh’s board for questioning the link between outlet density and consumption (‘Senior cop slams licensing chief Eric Milligan’, News, October 30).

For some of these critics appear to disregard the role individual liberty and personal responsibility must play with regards to alcohol consumption.

Each application must always be considered strictly on its individual merits. Despite sometimes reaching different conclusions, I am satisfied each member abides by this without deviation.

I do, however, have some sympathy with the view that the concept of ‘overprovision’ is at least open to question - particularly with regards to off-sales.

You wouldn’t purchase your weekly food shop twice because you live near two supermarkets, so logic follows the same applies to a six pack of beer or a bottle of wine.

And as acknowledged by virtually all in attendance at the last board meeting - including legal and police representatives - anyone can quote from academia to support their own view.

The board’s latest policy was drafted following significant consultation. The designation of areas of serious special concern was made following professional legal advice sought to ensure our policy was as robust as possible - more robust, members were advised, than if we had simply put ‘area of overprovision’ labels across the city.

A national education policy that strongly encourages early understanding of alcohol and encourages personal responsibility should be central to a long-term approach to dealing with alcohol issues in our country.

We would all do well to bear in mind that prohibition has been tried in many countries before. The results are known.

Councillor Nick Cook, member Edinburgh Licensing Board, City Chambers, Edinburgh

It’s time for Swinney to review council tax freeze

We learn on a daily basis of proposed cuts to services within the city and the nation as a whole, due to the imposed financial settlements by/with the Scottish Government. It has been going on for a number of years and is likely to continue. Local government has never been under such a relentless and unforgiving financial attack.

The original freezing of council tax by finance minister John Swinney sounded and felt great at the time, along with the other giveaways like the abolition of bridge tolls. But now we are suffering the consequential downside a few years on.

Any ‘fat’ in councils has long gone. We need to brace ourselves for life support only. Is that what we truly, really want?

Council money for spending can only ever come from us, one way or another, through taxes.

Will you, when the council tax freeze ends, as it must, be happy to pay an eye-watering increase in council tax due to the capping of years gone by? I doubt it.

So, can Edinburgh’s councillors and the umbrella group COSLA lobby, nay insist, John Swinney reviews the current situation?

A clue to John: Normalise the additional grants you have given to councils and incorporate them into base local authority funding; allow councils to set their local tax without penalty to a level they need to deliver the services that locals expect and demand.

A wake up call to us: We must accept we have to pay for what we want right now; quit girning.

Graham Davidson, Edinburgh

Britain’s wasted Afghan military role

I completely agree with the view about British soldiers stationed in Afghanistan (‘Dead soldier’s mum slams senseless Afghan conflict’, Evening News, October 27).

The £37 billion has been an utter waste of money, not to mention the pointless loss of nearly 500 service personnel. I would be so very cross if I was a relative or friend of one of the victims. It seems the government hasn’t learned from its past mistakes.

These brave men and women made the ultimate sacrifice - and for what?

Clare Murdoch, Eildon Street, Edinburgh

Are city council cuts sparing affluent areas?

All human life is found in a public leisure centre. Working people of all ages attending the gym or pool before or after work; children learning to swim; disabled people who need the services enjoyed by the rest of us; retired people who appreciate the need to look after their health and keep fit; and anyone who goes to get out of the house or because they find exercise, of whatever kind, fun.

Perhaps the council could tell us why the Warrender swim centre is ‘safe’ while the eight centres under threat of closure (Evening News, October 27) are not.

Thousands of Edinburgh residents would be deprived and disappointed at the closure of the centres. They would doubtless crowd to Portobello, Warrender, the Commonwealth Pool and Meadowbank, putting strain on the services offered there.

Discussing the issue at my local, very well-used centre, which is one of those in the frame to be closed, it was suggested that Warrender will be safe because it is in an affluent area.

If that is so, and the council does have the opportunity to disabuse us of that belief if it is inaccurate, it would be entirely wrong for it to be assumed that those of us in less well-heeled parts of Edinburgh would take wholesale decimation of the city’s fitness centres lying down. We’re fit and up for the fight!

Mary Blackford, address supplied