Letters: We need an accurate count of new-builds lying empty

Have your say

HOUSING Minister Keith Brown is right to take steps to tackle the problem of newly-built property which has never been occupied (Innovative funding model to ease city housing woes, Evening News, March 20).

Communities faced with loss of green space or over-development must scratch their heads in bemusement at the number of new developments which are meanwhile sitting empty.

But the minister needs to do more. I recently submitted a question to him in Parliament asking how many such properties there are in Scotland. He concedes he does not know. In order to do something about a problem one needs to know how big an issue it is.

The minister and council planning departments need to reassure the public they have a handle on this awful waste.

Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian

Let’s keep an eye on tram activity

Would the Evening News consider launching a campaign to encourage the public, when they are about town, to keep an eye on workmen’s productivity and report lack thereof – it may help keep them on their toes?

We have read much about the funding issues surrounding the trams and debates between the council and the contractors. However, now that work is under way again, how many Edinburgh residents have noticed how little progress is being achieved? I have been appalled at the number of workmen that I see whose only tell-tale sign of being employed by the contractor is a coloured jacket or a hard hat.

I have lost count of the number of workmen I have seen either reading a newspaper, sleeping in their van, texting or gazing into holes in the ground. Can I encourage Edinburgh residents to report such incidents to either the contracting company or to the Evening News so that we can “encourage” a higher level of productivity in this already late and over-budget project?

D. Brown, Edinburgh

Policies are killing off licensed trade

Whilst I agree with Jim Taylor (Letters, 20 March) that the mindset behind binge drinking needs to be examined in order to find a solution to the problem in Scotland, I find his perceived reasons behind Nicola Sturgeon’s proposal for minimum pricing so ridiculous that they are almost laughable.

Mr Taylor’s suggestion that they were to “protect the licensed trade” is so far off the mark that it beggars belief. The very notion that the Scottish Government would do anything to protect the licensed trade is bad enough but I would ask the question, what is there left to protect?

As a direct result of the Draconian legislation brought in by the Scottish Government from the start, pubs have been closing on a daily basis throughout the country and those that are left are struggling to survive. Yes, the big brand names will always survive through bulk buying short dated beer and selling it at discounted prices, but is that what the general public wants? Characterless pubs offering the same product regardless of which one you frequent?

I suggest, with respect, that Mr Taylor goes back to the drawing board to establish the real reasons behind Ms Sturgeon’s proposals and in the meantime, sticks to writing about hard-done-by cabbies.

Sheila Fraser, Mansfield Park, Edinburgh

Independence ideas are baffling

I am now wondering what “independence” actually means to the SNP these days.

Recently we have been told that an independent Scotland will: keep the Queen; keep the pound; remain part of the United Kingdom; perhaps stay in Nato.

Do they actually know what independence might mean for Scotland or, as I suspect, is Alex Salmond making it up as he goes along?

Frank Russell, Broomhouse, Edinburgh

Beautiful pictures make my day

Thank you to whoever is responsible for the wonderful pictures at St Andrew Square Garden. The previous exhibitions were all excellent, but the present one, in my opinion, surpasses the others.

The pictures make you realise what a wonderful world we live in. Keep up the good work.

Norman Ross, Edinburgh