LETTERS: Referendum watershed for ending Tory austerity

Have your say

During the referendum Scott Arthur (Letters, December 19) and his Labour colleagues had the chance to end Tory austerity measures for good but rejected a permanent progressive Scottish alternative.

As London HQ has written off Labour’s chances in Scotland next May, Kezia Dugdale had nothing to lose by advocating large tax rises to mitigate Westminster’s austerity cuts but she failed to do so, no doubt as voters would remember that Labour increased Edinburgh’s council tax by 60% in ten years.

Despite having a 10% cut in real terms to its budget in the last five years, the Scottish Government has treated local authorities far better than the UK government since 2010 and SPICe has confirmed that to date the council tax freeze has been fully funded. Also inequality in education has halved in the last ten years.

As pointed out by Jim Eadie MSP elsewhere in the Evening News, our local health and education authorities are further burdened by paying millions a year to service PFI contracts signed under the last Labour government.

Even after the Scotland Bill gives Holyrood additional limited taxation powers in 2017/18, Westminster will retain control of the five main taxes that would allow us to restructure our economy or to seriously tackle inequality.

Fraser Grant, Warrender Park Road, Edinburgh

Council missed a chance vetoing RHS

The City of Edinburgh Council is struggling for money - cutbacks left, right and centre - yet they turn down plans for a five-star hotel on the Calton Hill site which would have brought cash and jobs into the city.

The Royal High School building has lain empty for 50 years, so this would have been a wonderful opportunity to put life back into a part of the city which seems to have become a coach park.

If the music school gets the go ahead, it will be the tax payers who will have to foot the bill.

Mrs Sylvia F Wilson, Maxwell Street, Edinburgh

Hotel plan would have been residents’ loss

I’m very aware of what a hard decision councillors had to make regarding the proposed hotel development of the former Royal High School.

There may indeed be a need for more five-star hotels, but they should not be at the expense of the very assets people come to see.

We must remember hotels are places for transient people, who are either here for business or pleasure but not to stay. Anyone staying at the hotel would be totally unaware of how the building once stood in its own surroundings and played an important part in education and more recently political affairs.

The building is an architectural gem and as such is one of the many attractions in our city which actually brings the visitors.

If the development had gone ahead, the building would have been lost, both to the ordinary residents of Edinburgh and to the majority of mainstream visitors.

If the building were to be reinstated as a place of learning and as a space for public entertainment, then it would be open for all to enjoy.

As for another hotel, is there not scope for the former Bank of Scotland building in St Andrew Square to be brought back to life?

Jeremy Lewis, Durar Drive, Edinburgh

Handbag raid puts spending in perspective

To paraphrase Lady Bracknell: How much is a handbag? (raid on Multrees Walk, News, December 18).

One is always lead to believe the value of a Louis Vuitton bag (£25,000). Let’s take off the VAT, the mark up - a conservative 150% - what they paid for it from the manufacturer. What did the worker get making the bag? A fraction. My dears, you can buy a carrier bag for 5p. And nobody said what the window cost!

John Wilkinson, Liberton, Edinburgh

Modern Scotland still has room for the BB

2015 has been another memorable year for The Boys’ Brigade in Scotland. We have been able to start new groups, celebrate young people’s successes and offer members new international experiences.

Perhaps this year’s most important achievement has been the increase in youth volunteering in the organisation.

We now have over 1000 young volunteers who are passionate about supporting other young people in their communities.

It is widely acknowledged that youth work is vital in closing the education attainment gap, ultimately reducing inequalities of life outcomes for young people.

The BB is still very much at the vanguard of youth work in Scotland, engaging young people with challenging and exciting new programmes.

Our BB companies are growing but we still have the capacity to welcome more young people into membership. We would also welcome adults looking for volunteering opportunities within an organisation that not only develops lifelong skills, but places ‘fun’ at the heart of its work.

In the meantime, we wish everyone, including all friends and families that have supported the organisation over the years, a merry Christmas and happy new year.

Bill Stevenson, Director, The Boys’ Brigade Scotland, Carronvale House, Larbert