No need for politicians to refuse to set budget

while I agree with Jack Fraser that 'It's time our politicians fought austerity' (Letters, 23 January), I disagree with his proposal that the Scottish Parliament and Labour and SNP Councils 'refuse to set Tory Austerity budgets'. For sure it is true that the Tories have stolen more than £3 billion from public spending in Scotland since the austerity offensive began in 2010. Austerity is an attempt by big business politicians to make the working class pay for the economic crisis since the banking crisis of 2007-08.

But that does not mean MSPs and councillors are powerless to do anything about it. Collectively, the Scottish Parliament and SNP and Labour Councils have real financial powers to begin a campaign of defiance. Elected politicians should use all available financial mechanisms to hold further cuts whilst leading a fight to win more money. Under the rules, councils have a legal duty to set a budget. As a Socialist I would not advocate not setting a budget, but would advocate that the Scottish Parliament and councils set a legal no-cuts budget.

A legal “needs” no-cuts budget can be set by a combination of drawing on council reserves, using borrowing powers that councils have as well as creative accountancy for example, capitalisation. The Scottish Parliament now has borrowing powers, regular underspends and will also have enhanced powers from next year, and these could all be used to set a “needs” no-cuts budget on a national level. But the setting of a no-cuts budget by councils and the Scottish Parliament would allow time and space for the building of a national campaign to win the money required to fully fund jobs and public services. This would involve mass protest, demonstrations, and strike action by public and private sector workers.

.Jimmy Haddow,

Carlaverock Avenue, Tranent, East Lothian

No apology on oil necessary

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Michelle Smythe asks if Alex Salmon and Nicola Sturgeon will apologise for claiming that there was $1.5 trillion worth of oil in the North Sea, but why should they apologise? (Letters, 23 January) The figure quoted was based on what the oil industry and UK Government had claimed. Even David Cameron himself urged people to vote No to benefit from a new oil boom.

As for bring in a financial crises if we had voted YES, this is nonsense. Renowned and respected world organisations have said that, even without oil, Scotland is wealthier, per capita, than countries like Germany, France and Spain. Oil is a bonus but even without it we would manage perfectly well, just like many other countries do.

C Lamont, Magdalene Avenue


Slower roads will be a disaster for capital

Thursday morning’s incident on Queensferry Road, which led to two hours of traffic jams and delays on the west side of the city is a timely reminder of the vital importance of free flowing roads.Whilst the incident started on Queensferry Road, its effect soon spread to the many roads that fed into it. Not only were roads like Telford Road jammed up, but also in the opposite direction the A90 was hit. Indeed, between 9.30am and 10am, I calculated that my car averaged 3 miles per hour – walking pace!

This incident should encourage us to rethink two public policies – the spread of 20mph zones and the encouragement of cycling on all routes. Slower roads will, among other things, lead to more congestion. They will also encourage speedo-watching rather than driving with one’s full attention on the road ahead. During rush hour a single cyclist can reduce an entire line of traffic from third gear to first gear, thus lengthening everyone else’s journey and contributing to congestion.

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Our rulers forget that wasting time means less money for business, less pay for the workers and less time for people to spend with their friends and families; it is high time they remembered.

Otto Inglis, Inveralmond Grove


Sett mind against asphalt calming

Recently, the Transport and Environment Committee of the Edinburgh City Council decided to replace the historic granite setts of Brighton Place, Portobello, with asphalt. This decision is wrong, for a number of reasons, enumerated below, and I appeal to councillors and interested parties to make representations to the council to reverse this decision.

1. The setts are approximately 180 years old, part of the historic heritage of this area of Portobello, a designated conservation area. The setts were laid as part of the unified Brighton Place and Brighton Crescents development in the mid-19th century.

2. A replacement by asphalt would include traffic calming measures, such as speed bumps. The current sett surface, admittedly somewhat bumpy, is at least as effective in traffic calming as any asphalt speed bumps would be.

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3. Some small local mending of the present setts, where necessary, would be far less costly than the total resurfacing. No comprehensive overhaul has been carried out in 36 years. Total replacement of the whole setted surface was always something of a straw man, ie not a sensible alternative.

4. The granite setts are beautiful, a consideration not to be overlooked, and distinctive.

5. A clear majority of residents of Brighton Place (80 per cent, I believe) are in favour of keeping the granite setts. The view of the Portobello Community Council is not representative of the views of these residents.

James R Hurford, East Brighton Crescent, Edinburgh