Readers' letters: Festival is neither Philistine or snob

"Raising questions about Edinburgh’s festivals does not make anyone a snob”

By The Newsroom
Monday, 9th August 2021, 8:00 am

Festival is neither Philistine or snob

Raising questions about Edinburgh’s festivals does not make anyone a snob. Every organisation and citizen should have any concerns heard in a respectful manner and taken on board.

However, being pro-development and supporting festivals doesn’t make you a philistine who doesn’t care about the city or its built heritage. Nor does it mean you’re in favour of the unfettered roll out of Airbnb’s throughout the city centre.

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Alas, it is increasingly challenging to conduct a healthy public debate in the internet age. Too often shouting matches take place that generate much heat but very little light.

The low point in Edinburgh’s built heritage was in the 20th and not the 21st century. Like many cities Edinburgh’s city centre suffered an exodus of population and serious physical decline, ably described by AJ Youngson in The Making of Classical Edinburgh.

The 21st century has seen huge improvements to the built fabric of the city and a repopulated city centre. That has been driven by amongst other things tourism and the city’s festivals.

To give just one small example, pre Covid-19 the Scottish government gave £38.4million in grant funding to Historic Environment Scotland (HES). That was less than 40 per cent of its budget. Most of the rest came from Edinburgh Castle and the Tattoo. This year the HES grant had to be doubled to try to make up the huge shortfall in funding caused by a lack of tourists.

Festivals and tourism helped HES look after the 300 properties in its care and much, much more. We need a healthy debate that recognises the positive contribution tourism makes our fantastic built heritage.

Donald Anderson, The Spinney, Edinburgh.

No anti-Rangers bias in the SNP camp

Murdo Fraser MSPs claims that the SNP has a problem with Rangers.

He forgot to mention that of the £25 million Scottish government loans to SPFL clubs, Rangers received the largest amount at £3,200,000 while Hibs received £2,882,000 to help them out. Celtic were the only top flight team not to apply for a loan and Hearts, in common with other Championship clubs, received a grant of £500,000.

T he Scottish Rugby Union received a £13.5million grant rather than a loan.

It seems the SNP just doesn’t do pork barrel politics, Tory style, by giving contracts to its donors or favours to their natural supporters.

Fraser Grant, Warrender Park Road, Edinburgh.

Travel concerns

The Scottish government press release announcing India is no longer on the red list and visitors from France no longer have to quarantine causes me huge concern.

We have had three deadly waves of this virus, why does Nicola Sturgeon want to allow travel to Scotland so soon?

In addition, the ruling to have 60,000 fans at Ibrox and Parkhead next week defies belief as we still have around five per cent cases a day of Covid, which is the WHO definition of a pandemic.

David Watson, Leith.

We will ROC you

Two things strike me about BBC Olympic coverage; breakfast is better (and cheaper) with one reporter rather than two nattering to each other; and standards are slipping, as twice Dan Walker talked about Russia rather than ROC.

This latter point is not trivial, since the reason behind ROC rather than Russia was the state doping issue which we should not let slip away by familiarity.

James Watson, Dunbar.