Letters: Traffic-free George Street is low on charm

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There are arguments for and against the pedestrianisation of Edinburgh city centre, but glowing descriptions of the new arrangements on George Street make the heart sink.

Approach the street from north or south, and the open vistas intended by the New Town’s creators – to Charlotte Square in the west and St Andrew Square in the east – are now closed off.

Instead, you are confronted by giant black bins marked ‘LITTER’, tacky plastic flower containers and a parade of rather crude wooden platforms.

And the big display panels which ‘welcome’ you to George Street actually block your view of George Street itself.

This may be a work in progress and refinements may be in store, but if Essential Edinburgh – and by extension, the council – genuinely regard this architecturally illiterate mish-mash as an “enhancement of the ambience”, then a great city really is being short-changed.

As for the idea that this new “high-quality environment” will “boost business” – well, maybe that’s what it’s all about. But this is at least one potential shopper who won’t be coming back in a hurry.

David Jackson Young, India Street, Edinburgh

Dwindling oil supply threatens Alex’s plan

articles in the press about North Sea oil revenues being down this year are worrying. What is Alex Salmond’s Plan B when the North Sea oil runs out?

The SNP’s rosy economics for a Scotland separated from the rest of the UK are crucially dependent on the income from oil. The SNP have optimistically forecast revenues of £7.3 billion for the foreseeable future. But oil receipts this year have already dropped to £4bn, less than one third of what they were four years ago.

The independent Office of Budget Responsibility has forecast £3.2bn in 2018 with oil revenues continuing to drop.

Two-thirds of the oil has already gone. The oilfields will also require £40bn to clean up when they are finished – half of which cost would have to be paid for by the Scottish taxpayer in a Scotland separated from the UK. To me this looks like another Plan B for which Salmond hasn’t given us an answer.

I for one am voting in September to stay with the rest of the UK where our economic prospects look rosier.

Stuart Baillie Strong, Regent Terrace, Edinburgh

Rail not road is the future for Scotland

From its humble beginnings flying from the former RAF Aerodrome at Turnhouse, Edinburgh Airport is now the premier airport in Scotland and in the top six in the UK.

But success brings its downside – traffic congestion on the roads leading to the airport, and as has been shown recently, even one accident causes long tailbacks.

Fortunately the airport has now has a light rail link connecting it to the city centre. There is further good news with two new transport infrastructure projects about to help the traffic situation.

Work has started on the tram/rail interchange at Gogar (Edinburgh Gateway) and with the Borders Railway scheduled for completion in 2015, travellers from Fife and the north and the Borders will have the option to reach Edinburgh Airport by rail. Foolishly the SNP cancelled the Edinburgh Airport Rail Link project and diverted the money to their pet road schemes or the congestion would not be as bad as today, and thousands of car journeys would have been saved.

Congestion is costing the UK billions each year, as well as damaging the environment and polluting the air creating health problems.

England has shown the way by investing billions on rail projects like the well documented London Crossrail £15bn project, and similarly the large provincial cities are all extending their light rail networks.

In Scotland it’s a case of “not a penny more”. It’s not a case of can we afford it but of can we afford not to. In fact, we do not have a choice – money has to found to prioritise light and heavy rail projects and yes, if needs be, at the expense of roads.

George Ritchie North Gyle Terrace Edinburgh

Disabled are facing a hidden housing crisis

I want to draw your attention to the plight of many disabled people in Edinburgh who face the misery of living in Victorian conditions.

Leonard Cheshire Disability has recently found that thousands of people across the country are being forced to wash at their kitchen sinks, sleep in their living rooms or use commodes because their homes are not disabled-friendly. This is simply unacceptable.

There is a severe lack of disabled-friendly housing. One in ten people in the UK has a mobility problem, yet only five per cent of homes are built so that disabled people can visit with any degree of comfort, let alone live in them.

As more and more of us become disabled and we live longer, this hidden housing crisis is a time bomb for the future.

We want every council in the UK to make sure that all new homes are built so they are easy to adapt if people become disabled. We also want 10 per cent of large developments to be fully wheelchair accessible to give disabled people the opportunity and support to live independently.

I urge your readers to sign our petition for more disabled-friendly homes and share their own experiences at leonardcheshire.org/hometruths.

Thank you for your support.

Andy Cole, Director of Corporate Affairs, Leonard Cheshire Disability