ID card scheme is a huge waste of taxpayers' cash

IT is regrettable that the Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF) is again calling for the Government to introduce national ID cards (Shops' struggle to spot teen boozers an age-old problem, Evening News, May 13).

It is not necessary to identify a person in order to determine whether they are of legal age to purchase alcohol. Names, addresses and sundry numbers related to citizenship are superfluous.

Nor is it even necessary for a shopkeeper to know a customer's exact date of birth – information which can be used by identify fraudsters; it is sufficient to know only that they are over a certain age.

There are several proof-of-age cards readily available on the market, mostly at very modest cost. Any of these can be used to prove that someone is old enough to buy age-restricted products and it would be a simple matter for SGF members to collectively insist that customers produce one or several of these.

If they are unhappy with the current offerings, they could produce and sell their own.

Instead, they are demanding that the Government waste millions of pounds of taxpayers' money on an unnecessary national ID scheme – money that could be spent on ensuring that our police are better resourced to deal with any abuse that shopkeepers do encounter.

Dr Geraint Bevan, NO2ID Scotland, Grovepark Gardens, Glasgow

Plenty of open space in Portobello

AS an observer based elsewhere in Edinburgh I am fascinated by the debate on the subject of the new Portobello High School and in particular the relocation of the school to part of Portobello Park.

Although I am neutral to the debate, as a council tax payer I do want to see value for money.

If my understanding is correct, the net cost to the city of a new school in the park is much less than for a rebuild on the present site, as well as being a much more suitable environment for modern day learning, AND the pupils and staff will have more space and outdoor sports facilities. Why spend more of taxpayers' money on a much poorer facility?

I do appreciate that cost is not the only issue and there is a degree of resistance from those who want to preserve the park in its entirety.

Looking at map and satellite website Google Earth, it is clear that Portobello Park is not the only park in EH15. I can make out at least seven other substantial parks and of course the promenade, which looks like it extends for more than a mile. Any time I have visited Portobello, there is a sense of an abundance of open space.

By building on Portobello Park, the council will save its taxpayers money and simultaneously give the children and staff of Portobello High a much more suitable working environment for years to come.

Margaret Black, Rutland Square, Edinburgh

A serious debate needs accuracy

STEPHEN McINTYRE in his letter of May 12, claiming to speak for the wider community, is wrong in the figures that he quotes.

The council's option to locate Portobello High School on the 5.7 hectares of Portobello Park was arrived at after an educational consultation and takes up the whole of Portobello Park. That is 100 per cent – not the ten per cent as quoted.

Similarly, the costs quoted are wide of the mark of the figures given in the 2006 appraisal even allowing for inflation. The reprovisioning of Portobello High School, which includes the loss of accessible green space, is a contentious issue within Portobello and one that is dividing the community. In this serious debate it serves no-one to make such inaccurate claims.

Stephen Hawkins, Lib Dem councillor for Portobello/Craigmillar

Wendy is leaving us all in the dark

THE similarity between the UK and Scottish Labour leaders is remarkable. Both were installed unopposed. Both were regarded as outstanding politicians. Both subsequently proved incompetent. Both have now forfeited authority over their fellow members of parliament.

Where they differ is in their reaction to current problems.

On the referendum fiasco, hapless Malcolm Chisholm epitomised the party's denial of reality when repeatedly asked on BBC's Newsnight Scotland the simple question "Do you reserve the right to vote against the SNP referendum?"

Mr Chisholm used the answer "We're not giving the SNP a blank cheque". Seven times!

Therein lies the major difference between the two leaders. Gordon Brown has acknowledged the blunder over the 10p tax band removal, with remedial measures being taken.

Wendy, meanwhile, deflects blames on to the SNP, while leaving us all in the dark as to what her exact position is on the subject.

Robert Dow, Ormiston Road, Tranent

Gibson would be welcome in church

HAD John Gibson's strictures on church ministers and their sermons (May 13) appeared a week earlier, I would have invited him to join me at a Leith Church where I heard four sermons preached last Friday, Saturday and Sunday, each lasting for about 40 minutes. The minister spoke entirely without notes and the central figure of his preaching to an appreciative congregation was the Lord Jesus Christ.

I may add that the congregation were not looking at their watches, hoping he would stop.

Donald Jack, Summerside Place, Leith

Value is the key for pricey music shops

MUSIC shops such as Sound Control have sounded their last note for one reason – they are simply too expensive (Capital stores strung out as musicians turn to the internet, News, May 13).

Many musicians are on a tight budget – should they be expected to dig deep to keep uncompetitive shops in business? Don't think so.

Pam Tandas, Easter Road

Home purchase is Adam good idea

THE approval by Edinburgh councillors of the bid by Heriot-Watt University to buy the former home of the "father of economics", Adam Smith, is to be applauded.

The decision over Panmure House in Edinburgh's Old Town, where he lived from 1788 to 1790 will now be scrutinised by the Scottish Government and one hopes they too see sense and approve this bid.

The restoration of this property will place Scotland at the international forefront of the study of economics, and bring substantial benefits to the national economy.

An international economics centre will also be of significant importance to the development of scholarly activity on the subject, and the hope is that Heriot-Watt's bid will prove successful.

Alex Orr, Bryson Road, Edinburgh

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