Letters: Selling Edinburgh off will come at great cost to us all

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IN AN otherwise enlightening article on council funding and privatisation (Counting the cost of public sector cuts, News, July 27), Rory Reynolds spoils it when he says "the status quo is unsustainable".

Thank goodness the government after the Second World War was not so defeatist. At that time the national debt (as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product) was three times the current debt.

Yet the country managed to create the NHS, create proper pensions and instigate the biggest social housing programme ever seen.

By all means report on the current financial crisis facing the council, but don't fall for the Con-Lib spin that there is no alternative.

Let's have a real debate about the so-called 'crisis'. Let's learn from the rebuilding in the USA after the depression.

If Edinburgh is sold off, it will not just be the essential public services that are cut, but the thousands of businesses that rely on them. Sold off to multinationals with no base in the city, not for efficiency but for profit - and to allow councillors to pass the buck and say, "it was the big company that didn't deliver, not us".

The cuts we face are ideological, not financial. We need to wake up to that.

John Stevenson, president,

UNISON, City of Edinburgh Branch

Zoo must drop its 'ridiculous' plans

John Gibson is right, Edinburgh Zoo is playing a sympathy card over its land-swap deal with the council (Zoo can't get away with grab, News, July 27).

Zoo bosses have said that, without the swap, plans such as obtaining giant pandas from China may not be able to go ahead.

Cancelling those plans would be a good thing - not only for the pandas who face a journey across the world to be put in a cage on an Edinburgh hill, but for conservation in general.

Conservation of this endangered species is best served by protecting and restoring their natural habitats, as is already being done in China. Even the WWF has said that "there is little direct conservation benefit to bringing pandas to Edinburgh Zoo".

This deal with China has already been confirmed by the First Minister as "a commercial transaction" and a very costly one at that.

If the plan goes ahead, it is likely to cost the zoo millions of pounds to rent the animals from China for the duration of their time in the city.

In the current economic climate, the first cutback Edinburgh Zoo should be making is to scrap the ridiculous plans. Yet, with the zoo's eagerness to display species rarely seen in other UK zoos, we fear that commercial interests will overtake conservation yet again.

Craig Redmond, campaigns director, The Captive Animals' Protection Society

Land swap would be good for city

Having lived in Corstorphine for number of years and enjoyed many a ramble up the scenic and wild Corstorphine Hill, I do not see a problem with the zoo taking it over.

As an area of great natural beauty with stunning views of the city and beyond, it would be ideal for zoological purposes and the development of such a site would, I feel, enhance the city's reputation for being enterprising and forward thinking.

Also, I am sure that there must be several similar-sized areas in and around Edinburgh which would also benefit greatly from some sort of modern development, so long as the outstanding natural features are retained and maintained.

Angus McGregor, Albion Road, Edinburgh

Tram criticism is well out of line

IN RESPONSE to "Take care when cutting services" (Interactive, July 27), I would like to make clear that despite our employees working tirelessly to resolve the current dispute with contractors, while also continuing to make progress on off-road sections of the tram route, no performance bonuses were awarded for the last financial year.

Mandy Haeburn-Little, director of customer services and communications, Edinburgh Trams