Letters: ‘Empty shops to blame for high street being shelved’

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NEW figures showing chain stores have closed one a day on average across our town centres underline the need for diversity on our high streets.

Where vacant units are taken over, it is often by pound shops, pawnbrokers, payday loan firms and mini versions of our biggest supermarket chains, which already control three-quarters of the grocery market.

I’d love to hear from your readers on how they’d like to see their high streets develop.

I’d like to see more support for independent businesses and greater encouragement for new starts. In the last couple of years the vast majority of people who moved from unemployment to private sector employment found work in small businesses.

Supporting these firms is crucial to creating jobs and breathing life into our town centres.

Alison Johnstone, MSP for Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh

Story drew the wrong conclusions

I write to redress an inaccuracy in your recent article entitled Artist Targets Graffiti Wall, which appeared in the News on February 27.

The article portrays me as an individual who is against graffiti and street art and intends to launch a campaign to replace said works with installations of my own – this is not the case.

The project to install artwork along the wall at Middle Meadow Walk is actually the brainchild of the Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links, which approached me and other members of the Edinburgh College of Art in an attempt to identify an alternative to the council’s proposal of installing advertising hoardings in an attempt prevent casual graffiti.

I feel it is important that I raise my concerns in order to preserve my artistic neutrality on the subject of graffiti and street art, which is an art form in its own right.

Astrid Jaekel, artist, Edinburgh

School chaplains leverage position

Reverend Sandy Fraser (Letters, February 26) uses the term “spiritual development” to describe religious observance in schools, saying it should not be confessional.

The term is a new-age expression designed to avoid use of the word “indoctrination”, which is the more accurate expression but carries ugly connotations. The Scottish Government’s guidance on the subject of religious observance slips effortlessly between both these expressions and plain, old-fashioned “worship”.

In addition, the Reverend fails to disclose the extensive lengths to which his Church goes to ensure his school chaplains leverage their positions in schools for the maximum return.

Its latest guidance for them contains not a single reference to interfaith or ecumenical initiatives, so that they have a free run at ensuring that “spiritual development” results in belief in a Protestant Christian god, at least in Edinburgh’s non-denominational sector.

Alistair McBay, National Secular Society, Atholl Crescent, Edinburgh

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