Letters: Safety classes can go as long as the stations stay

The Risk Factory. 'Picture: Jane Barlow
The Risk Factory. 'Picture: Jane Barlow
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When main police stations and front desks are facing closure it is only right that something such as the Risk Factory is coming under review (News, October 19). I would rather something such as the Risk Factory faces closure if it meant even one local police office could be kept open.

Keeping children safe is important and learning about such as water safety, home safety and making children aware of the dangers of playing on building sites, the railway and electricity substations is vital.

Cycling by new tram line at Haymarket, Edinburgh. Pic: Ian Rutherford

Cycling by new tram line at Haymarket, Edinburgh. Pic: Ian Rutherford

But is the above way of teaching children about the dangers of life the best use of taxpayers’ money? Is it not the responsibility of the parents and wider family to be teaching children about many of the above dangers? When I was at school there was no such thing as the Risk Factory. I am now 34 and still here to tell the tale.

I now have a five-year-old nephew whom I regularly take for walks in the countryside. When we pass things such as bodies of water, railway tracks and busy roads, I tell him about the dangers and make it clear to him that he must never go on to the railway or that he must never go near water/rivers unless an adult is with him.

The sad thing is if my nephew does feel he is in some kind of danger there will soon be no police station for him to go into and report it. If even one station can be saved it will be more beneficial to child safety and indeed the safety of everyone else than the continuation of the above programme.

Alastair Macintyre, Webster Place, Rosyth

Oil is not all that will fuel Scots economy

Chas Dennis is wrong to suggest (letters, October 22) the Scottish economy is dependent alone on oil production. North Sea oil only accounts for one sixth of Scotland’s total taxation revenues and even without oil Scotland’s income per person is almost 99 per cent of the UK as a whole.

Therefore any oil revenue is a bonus for an independent Scotland. And gas is not running out any time soon, with vast new fields off the west coast – which holds 20 per cent of the UK’s known reserves – coming on stream next year.

Scotland is energy-rich with 64 per cent of European Union total oil production, 36 per cent of EU total gas production and 25 per cent of the EU’s total offshore renewable capacity.

Only Unionist politicians seem to think oil is a curse. However, it is sensible to be like Norway and set up an oil fund for a rainy day. Norway even managed to start its sovereign wealth fund, now worth £465 billion, while running an annual fiscal deficit.

Calum Stewart, Montague Street, Edinburgh

Please Nicola, tell me who I should vote for

Nicola Sturgeon says “being governed by parties we don’t vote for, implementing policies we don’t support is democratically unacceptable”. I like it, but as I did not vote SNP at the last election, perhaps she can explain to me what I can do about it? How does she suggest I vote next year?

Jim Taylor, Essendean Place, Edinburgh

Why not ban bikes from the tram tracks?

Once again I hear the moans of Edinburgh pedalists over their precious bicycles being trapped in tram tracks and throwing their burdens to the ground (News, October 17).

Previous generations of cyclists managed perfectly prior to the departure of the last Edinburgh tram in 1956 – with some lines even having a third slot to negotiate. But, something must indeed be done. It is clear that safety should be the watchword of our city. For minimal expenditure on a few road signs, traffic managers could ban cyclists from all areas with tram tracks. It’s something most right thinking burghers would support. And, after all, if it saves one child...

John Eoin Douglas, Spey Terrace, Edinburgh

Schools need answers not Labour platitudes

I AM not sure what Councillor Paul Godzik finds “hyperbolic” about Green councillors’ concern on school conditions (Comment, October 21).

Our frontline school staff do a marvellous job in providing high quality education for young people. Some of the settings of new schools are fantastic, albeit at the cost of being tied into absurdly expensive PPP contracts which rob future budgets of investment.

However, too many of our older schools (and for that, read schools built up until the 1960s) offer buildings that are challenging. Don’t just take my word for it. The council’s own budget report on September 19 says: “recent condition survey reports have identified a significant backlog of essential works in schools. The current programme does not provide resources to address any of this backlog of works”.

This is a result of decades of neglect, of capital investment and shoddy or non-existent regular maintenance programmes. Cllr Godzik needs to offer more than platitudes.

He laments the council tax freeze, to which his party, Labour, is a late convert, despite the way it strips local government of choices over investment.

He notes that a tourist tax is not available, failing to add that he and his colleagues declined to pursue this Green suggestion further.

It seems to have slipped his mind that the Green budget for 2013-14 contained an extra £2 million for schools investment, including £1.5m for “spend-to-save” energy efficiency works.

And if the council is really worried about information on the physical condition of our schools, all it needs to do is publish the school condition surveys on which it has sat for months now. That will allow us all to have a debate on how school buildings can match the quality of learning that goes on inside them.

Cllr Melanie Main, Green education spokesperson