Derailed plans

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Once again we hear by the back door, so to speak, that an SNP policy has been quietly abandoned. The high speed train link between Glasgow and Edinburgh, announced with due fanfare by Nicola Sturgeon in 2012, is not to happen because “a cross border route must be identified first”. Very strange that the then infrastructure minister, one N Sturgeon, did not appreciate that factor in 2012.

Of course the real story here is not the fact that the SNP had not done its homework before making an announcement, but that Scotland’s transport structure is inextricably linked to that of the UK as a whole. An independent Scotland would operate under exactly the same constraints, the only difference being that instead of agreeing a mutually acceptable route with our fellow citizens in England, we would be negotiating with a foreign country who would have no interest whatsoever in our economic wellbeing. Independence would come at a very high economic price.

Carole Ford

Terregles Ave, Glasgow

Lib Dems lacking

This week we have been treated to the new Liberal Democrat peers making their maiden speeches in the House of Lords.

With eight Lib Dem MPs and one MEP, and 11 new Lib Dem peers, it means that there are more Lib Dems being sent to the undemocratic House of Lords than the public elected to the democratic parliaments. Even if the five Scottish MSPs, five Welsh AMs and two members of the London Assembly are added they party only has 21 politicians at some form of national level.

With more than 100 Lib Dem peers in a legislature whose membership is decided by what amounts to cronyism, while the public vote them out of office, how can the party morally retain the word “democrat” in its title?

Bruce D Skivington

Gairloch,Wester Ross

Axe buy-to-let

Shortage of housing is once again in the news – I would suggest that stopping individuals from buying more than one property must surely be the way forward.

As the UK has 1.6 million landlords who have a mortgage on these properties, and some of these properties are let to unfortunate individuals who can’t afford the rent, it is then paid for by the government – ie, my tax and yours. I strongly object to my money being used to subsidise these landlords.

No government over the last 40 years has done anything to stop this obscene practice – the more I look into this, it appears that stopping buy-to-let is the only way forward.

I hope Scotland shows the rest of the country the way forward and makes it one family, one home, and any homes for rent are either council or commercial landlords overseen by the government.

William Moore

McDonald Street, Dunfermline

Pick a job, Alex!

I had hoped that the former first minister’s two parliamentary jobs might keep him busy and out of the public eye, but after reading reports of Alex Salmond’s LBC radio debut I despair of the damage he might cause our country.

Resorting to “he wears a toupee” is scraping the barrel. Fun though it may be, it hardly presents Scotland as a country for serious investment. Can the man not just knuckle down and do at least one of his full-time jobs and nothing else?

Ken Currie

Liberton Drive, Edinburgh

A fairytale world

How dearly I wish I lived in the fairytale world of the SNP. Your report (14 January) that Scotland’s economy grew by just 0.1 per cent in the third quarter of last year also records that Deputy First Minister John Swinney regarded the data as “encouraging”! He is obviously singing from the same hymn sheet as SNP MSP Dennis Robertson who described the North Sea oil industry as “booming”.

Bill Jamieson’s article (Perspective, 14 January) paints a gloomy but realistic picture of the Scottish economy. He makes very clear that the mantra that oil is merely a “bonus” is SNP hokum.

No doubt he will be pilloried as a “doomsayer” for recognising the facts – something SNP adherents struggle with. They are only too ready to swallow the self-congratulatory and self-deluding proclamations emanating from Mr Swinney’s and Mr Robertson’s “Fool’s Paradise”.

Colin Hamilton

Braid Hills Avenue, Edinburgh

Deaf to doctors

The UK government doesn’t listen, which is why junior ­doctors in England, see no point in returning to the negotiating table. They know extreme tiredness will kill patients. They also believe they have a right to some semblance of a family life.

Doctors will be driven to vote with their feet and go abroad. Years of massively expensive training will be lost to NHS England. What a waste!

James Stevenson

Drummond Avenue, Auchterarder

Backing the EU

Nicola Sturgeon warns David Cameron that rushing into a referendum on European Union membership risks defeat.

The Nationalist leader is a fantastic campaigner – we witnessed that in 2014. So, rather than carping from the sidelines, attacking Westminster and the UK whenever she draws breath, we want to see her on the road – on TV news bulletins and chatshows, in adverts – intensively promoting the EU.

C’mon, Nicola, this is your big chance to do something constructive for Scotland. If you genuinely want the UK to remain within the EU, give us your best shot.

Martin Redfern

Royal Circus, Edinburgh

Grant small print

Nicola Sturgeon was quick to have a photo-opportunity in devastated Newton Stewart after the floods in December and to announce emergency grants to property owners.

Now we find (Your report, 13 January) that it is Dumfries and Galloway Council, already faced with huge costs in the clear-up, that is expected to cough up the money and wait until March for reimbursement from the Scottish Government.

Bridget Wilcox

Nine Mile Burn, Midlothian

Capital building

An article (Business, 14 January) reports on Edinburgh city council’s decision to grant planning consent for a build-to-rent residential development at Fountainbridge.

A spokesperson for the developer, Grosvenor Estates, is reported as saying that “[the] project team has collaborated closely with local neighbourhood organisations”. This is a remarkable claim. In fact, the application has been actively opposed by the three main local groups, Fountainbridge Canalside Initiative, the Grove Community Garden and Tollcross Community Council.

We presented a joint submission to the council and spoke at the committee hearing on 13 January. We had the support of two of our local councillors.

We are not in any way opposed to the principle of a mixed-use development on the site and we will be delighted to welcome new residents to Fountainbridge. But we were very disappointed in the quality of the proposals.

The form and scale of this building were criticised by the council’s design panel, and more than one in five of the apartments fall below the minimum internal area specified in the council’s own guidance. At the hearing it was clear that some councillors shared our concerns about the lack of affordable homes in the scheme.

Finally, the picture which accompanies Grosvenor’s press release doesn’t show the north building which has been approved by the council. It is an entirely speculative “artist’s impression” of a later phase of the development … the public is being presented with a flattering image of a building which will never be built instead of an accurate representation of the ugly block that has been approved.

John Lord

Gardner’s Crescent, Edinburgh

False economy

I read The Scotsman over breakfast, after which I was planning to email Stirling Council Adult Care regarding my father’s care plan. Coincidentally, there was the article and comment about care provision (Your report and Leader Comment, 13 January).

My father will be 94 soon and is severely physically disabled. I’ve looked after him (and my mother until her passing two years ago) for 12 years. For the last two, my father has lived with myself and my husband. Social services have been involved for the last four years. I had to give up my job six years ago. Care of my father is solely down to me and my husband.

I understand that budgets are tight, and an increasingly ageing population must be stretching this. However, my dealings with social services have left me simply speechless at the inefficient and ineffective organisation of adult social care.

For example, in order to re-instate a previously agreed 15-minute afternoon visit, we waited five months for him to be “re-assessed” (did someone think a severely disabled, 93-year-old had made some sort of miraculous recovery?), and another seven months on, still no afternoon visit. That’s a whole year!

I receive £62 per week carers’ allowance. I’ve been in receipt of this for about four years now. Since my parents, without me, would have most definitely have to have been in a care home – mum for about three years before her death, my father, say his last three years at home, and two years here, that’s a total of eight years in a care home. Even at the minimum government figures, the total bill would have been £280,000. Take off the four years’ carers’ allowance I’ve claimed, and I’ve saved Stirling Council £272,900.

My father’s increasingly arduous physical and emotional care needs are difficult and stressful to deal with, but what is worse if the complete loss of our quality of life as a couple. We get 28 days respite a year, but that leaves the other 337 all to us. On duty 24/7, no weekends off, no sick leave allowed, no lie-ins or early nights, no going out for a drive on a nice day, nor visiting friends.

The point of this is, that without some realistic assistance, my father will have to go into care at huge expense to Stirling Council. The lack of support and underfunding is simply a false economy.

Name & Address supplied

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