Letters: Safety needed for late cabs, not more friction

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It is very disappointing that the idea of an additional ‘party tariff’ has again been raised in discussions about taxi fares in Edinburgh (News, May 2).

The issue was raised nearly three years ago. At that time we conducted an online poll of the taxi drivers working for City Cabs and an overwhelming 84 per cent of our drivers voted against the idea. Indeed the most charitable of our drivers referred to this as the “rip-off tariff”.

Everyone appreciates that attracting drivers to work during the late and small hours at the weekend servicing the late-night revellers is an ever-present challenge in Edinburgh, but an additional charge on anyone going out at night is not the best way to resolve this problem.

Not only would such a charge penalise those who go for a night out, we in the taxi trade believe it would increase friction between drivers and passengers at a time when this is a large part of the problem itself, with many drivers preferring to avoid the possibility of the small number of unfortunate incidents that can occasionally happen at this time of night. The trade would more importantly neither wish to put their safety at risk by individuals having to walk home who are unwilling to pay the extra charge.

At a time when everyone agrees on the need to make the city centre a more attractive destination, this proposal could hurt Edinburgh’s night-time economy by making an evening at the theatre, cinema, pub or club more expensive. This was a bad idea three years ago, and it is a bad idea now. City Cabs has more than 400 taxis and represents over 1200 drivers and we will oppose this proposal.

The solution to encouraging more drivers at night is to help make drivers feel safer and more secure, and encourage women drivers to work evenings as well. As we have repeatedly said, CCTV cameras are a common feature of streets, buses and shopping centres.

The introduction of CCTV cameras will help transform the job of a taxi driver at night, providing protection for drivers and customers alike. I hope that the council will dismiss the “rip-off tariff”, and the damage it could do to the city centre, and allow taxis to voluntarily invest in CCTV cameras that will make working and travelling at night safer and more 
attractive for all.

City Cabs (Edinburgh) Ltd has carried out extensive research in this area and the results in other cities which have introduced CCTVs in their taxis service are very impressive.

Les McVay, company secretary, City Cabs Edinburgh Limited

Science centre passes test for Castlebrae

Your recent story “Castlebrae High to be scientific centre” (News, April 30) highlighted the welcome news that Castlebrae Community High School is, at long last, to receive the investment it deserves to enable the delivery of enhanced educational opportunities for young people in Craigmillar and the surrounding area.

Like any school operating in similar circumstances – with a declining school roll, lack of investment and serving a community which includes pockets of severe deprivation – Castlebrae has faced many challenges over the years. However, thanks to the dedication of staff, pupils and supporters of the school, Castlebrae can now look forward to a brighter future offering a broad range of educational opportunities for young people in the 
Craigmillar area.

Alison Thornton, Secretary, Edinburgh EIS, Moray Place

A solution exists to ‘march of the triffids’

WIND turbines would be banned across a fifth of Scotland under the first Scottish Government planning proposals specifically designed to protect the nation’s iconic wilderness.

Do not be deceived. Alex Salmond is throwing up a smokescreen and other areas will be contaminated with useless turbines.

There is a solution to this “march of the triffids”. Councillors who are considering wind turbine applications should be required to try to sleep for a week near a turbine.

This will give them an insight of what local residents are suffering. If they refuse the planning application and it goes to the Scottish Government then it should be mandatory that those who will be responsible for the decision should also spend time trying to sleep near a turbine. There are many who would gladly offer the officials free accommodation.

I am sure these same people would be glad to offer Alex Salmond two weeks accommodation and then instead of lording it with “we have the best CO2 reduction targets in the world” he would perhaps understand the cost in human misery.

Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow

McCourt should never be allowed on roads

Regarding the Gary McCourt sentencing article (News, May 4), this guy should certainly have been put away for killing two people – and the sheriff should also have lost his job for stupidly commenting that the lady who was killed on her bike, Audrey Fyfe, “contributed to her own death by not wearing a helmet” and as a result the driver should not be held responsible.

Of course he should, he still knocked her down and I doubt whether a helmet would have saved her life anyway – not to mention his second killing of the young man.

The sheriff should be put out to pasture and replaced. There is no way this ‘monster’ should be 
allowed back on our roads.

I think we should seriously consider resentencing, but only with another sheriff.

Steve George, west Edinburgh