New Year's going to be a cracker, not a damp squib

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YOUR "Damp Squib" splash (News, May 21) deserves a rocket. A sensationalist headline with an image of our iconic Hogmanay fireworks was clearly designed to lead readers to believe that the world-famous New Year celebrations were under threat. This is simply not the case.

The City of Edinburgh Council is actually putting 26,000 more into the Winter Festivals than last year. We want to build on the success of Edinburgh's world-class winter festivals. We must, however, review our events and activities to ensure that they continue to capture the imagination locally and internationally.

Extensive research has been commissioned by Edinburgh's Winter Festivals management team every year since its formation in 2004. We must utilise these consumer and stakeholder insights into our events and attractions to help develop both Edinburgh's Christmas and Edinburgh's Hogmanay. That way we can best enhance Edinburgh's status as the world's best New Year venue, this year and beyond.

We must, of course, secure maximum value for money. By carefully scrutinising bids for the Hogmanay contract we will make best use of available resources. Events must be properly costed and kept within budget.

There is no question that Edinburgh's Winter Festivals are a huge boost to our city economy. For a 532,000 direct council investment in 2007-08, Edinburgh gained 33.4 million of economic benefit – a pretty good financial return to the city. That is why we are investing further in our Winter Festivals to ensure that the events continue to be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.

Councillor Jenny Dawe, Edinburgh City Council leader, City Chambers, High Street

Kenny can't pick and choose battles

I READ with interest about Kenny MacAskill being so vocal in the Portobello school debate (News, May 21). It's a great delight as a constituent to see my MSP being so vocal about such a telling and important issue. If only he'd apply this passion and energy to other telling, and more pressing local issues.

As a resident of Portobello, I was equally delighted last year with Mr MacAskill's very vocal opposition to the proposed waste site at the freightliner depot in the area. However, of late, he seems to have dropped the issue – where is his profile now when the vast majority of his constituents need it most?

On this issue his public voice has disappeared as presumably he's advised to fight more media-attractive battles. To my mind he's clearly cherry picking the issues which will get him column inches, which is a huge disappointment.

He might be calling for the Edinburgh's school chief to quit but we his constituents call on him to start fighting for our beautiful corner of Edinburgh – put actions where his mouth is and not his mouth where he thinks his profile would benefit. I'm not asking him to drop the issue; I'd just like him to focus a bit more on some of the other ones.

Kenny – please stop "dilly-dallying, delaying and dithering" and get behind this other local issue.

Mark Fowlestone, East Brighton Crescent, Portobello

Fight to save our crches not over

THE final push is on to stop the closure of Edinburgh Leisure's crches. A full council meeting is to take place at the City Chambers on Thursday, May 29, at 9.30am.

We parents who are still campaigning to stop this ludicrous idea will hold another protest there that morning so the councillors cannot avoid us like they did at the last meeting!

The current crche prices are 4.40 per child for 45 minutes. These figures have lost Edinburgh Leisure so much business already and many more are struggling to keep attending classes, but feel they need this little bit of "me time" – as do the kids.

Edinburgh Leisure is remaining tight-lipped, except to say that its main interest is the customers' happiness! Well hello, Edinburgh Leisure – we are not happy! If this were to go ahead, the parents in the Kirkliston and Queensferry area will really have nowhere to exercise as there is no direct bus link to any of the remaining crches.

Has Edinburgh Leisure forgotten that it runs council gyms for the people? Because someone please tell me who can afford 41 per month membership and 8.80 a day for two kids to attend the crche.

Emma Hogg, Edinburgh

Up to drivers to deal with buggies

I sympathise with M McCormack on the subject of wheelchairs on buses (Letters, May 19). All bus drivers should know that wheelchair users take preference over people with push chairs.

They should inform the push chair user when necessary to take the child out and fold the chair up as the space is required by a wheelchair user. There is the odd occasion when the push chair is more like a pram.

My observations at times give me the impression that the push chair is more like a glorified shopping trolley when the child is removed from the push chair but still remains in the wheelchair position unfolded but loaded with shopping.

Tom Lee (retired inspector), Loganlea Drive, Edinburgh

We can't trust them to keep data safe

Meg Hillier MP tells us that the National Identity Register will be as secure as some military databases (Letters, May 12). Considering that the personal and banking details of over half a million soldiers and applicants from the last ten years were lost when an MoD laptop was stolen in January, that will reassure no one.

Her comparison to the passport database is delusory. No existing database contains the same wealth of personal data as the National Identity Register. Nor does the existing passport system allow details to be accessed online, as is proposed for the ID database.

Regarding expense, Ms. Hillier is dissembling when she says that 1 billion has been cut from the cost of the scheme. In fact, those costs have been removed from Home Office accounts by placing the burden directly on to taxpayers: by requiring everyone to pay additional fees to enrol our fingerprints and iris scans through the private sector.

Dr Geraint Bevan, NO2ID Scotland, Glasgow

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