EU age divide

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I’ve just unearthed a full-page article from 1994, which urges the need to support the Commonwealth and strengthen links with the Third World. Plus ca change ...

But what surprises me about the referendum debate is how the usual age roles are completely reversed. You would normally expect the mature and old to go for the cautious option, i.e. Stay in, and the youth to be opting for Brexit, for challenge, for the Commonwealth, for doing good and seeking for their remoter futures.

But this time it’s completely reversed, and the young tend to be more timid short-termists.

I suggest that youth reconsider. The world is full, as I have found, of promising and exciting futures, and all taking place outside the EU. From China through Asia and Africa to the West Indies, my own assignments have all been immensely rewarding in the best sense, and that’s where the future lies.

Many of these places have wonderful universities and many are fluent in our own language. Be cool, my young friends, choose Brexit!

Graham Tottle

Llanbedr, Gwynedd

Climate change is the greatest threat that humanity faces this century. But Britain cannot tackle it alone. Despite David Cameron pledging to lead the greenest government ever, Britain still lags far behind most of Europe in terms of renewable energy production. The Conservatives have cut subsidies for solar power; they have cut regulatory burdens on fracking, yet increased regulations on onshore wind.

As a result of us being in Europe, Britain’s beaches and waterways have been cleaned up and the EU are forcing us to tackle the scandal of air pollution.

A vote to exit the EU would do untold damage to the environment we all share.

Marjorie Mackenzie

Grange Loan, Edinburgh

One can understand RJ Chisholm being fed up with referendums, with two long campaigns within two years (Letter, 16 June). However, he is not compelled to bother with them.

At the moment there is a lot in the media about football but, not being interested, I find no problem in ignoring it. Actually, if the vote in the EU referendum is for Remain, more and more decisions will be taken for us by people we have not had to elect and of whom we know nothing,so that should solve the problem.

S Beck

Craigleith Drive, Edinburgh

The following paragraph appeared in your article “It’s getting scary for Project Fear” (Your report, 15 June): “The SNP has been odds with the scaremongering approach from the UK Government from the start with David Cameron and George Osborne spearheading a barrage of relentless attacks on the Remain camp”.

Surely, it should have read as follows: “The SNP has been at odds with the scaremongering approach of the UK Government from the start with David Cameron and George Osborne spearheading a barrage of relentless attacks on the Leave camp”.

Stephen Edwards

Inveresk Village, Musselburgh

I wish to highlight how EU directives have affected some activities in the UK. As a smallholder and a DIY enthusiast, I have been affected by three specific directives.

A brand of paint stripper that used to be very effective had to have its active ingredient (methylene chloride) removed by directive 455/2009/EC. The replacement is nowhere near as effective and requires much more stripper to achieve a poorer result.

Mercury thermometers are arguably the most accurate means of measuring heat variations but directive 2007/51/EU banned their use. Alcohol-based thermometers are not as accurate and the dye used to highlight the level fades in sunlight and the meniscus breaks, making max-min thermometers redundant in a short space of time.

Finally creosote, a reliable wood preservative used to preserve timber structures and fence posts, is now banned for non-professional users under directive 2001/90/EC. From experience, the alternatives are not as reliable or long-lasting. Health & Safety concerns appear to have trumped common sense and practicality.

Richard Batchelor

Pitscottie, Fife

Bottle benefits

I am writing with regards to the article entitled, “Scots big users of bottled water…but still claim to be eco-friendly” (Your report, 16 June).

Given the health benefits of a drink with no sugar or calories the consumption and desirability of drinking water should be encouraged, whether tap, bottled still or sparkling. This is particularly true given 60 per cent of the population still drinks less than one serving a day (tap or bottled).

It is promising that water consumption is increasing and in 2015 consumption of tap water irose by 17 per cent and bottled water by 9 per cent, whilst sales of other soft drinks declined. Over 90 per cent of bottled water sold in the UK is naturally sourced and this is one reason, along with taste and convenience, that consumers choose it.

Defra’s sustainability road map shows that bottled water is the lowest-impact packaged drink in the soft drinks sector, whether judged by its carbon footprint or its water footprint since there are no agricultural water inputs and limited water processing inputs and all plastic bottles used are 100 per cent recyclable.

Producers make this clear on the labels and work to support, educate and encourage further recycling.

Kinvara Carey

Natural Hydration Council, London

Old brigade

Bill Stevenson of The Boys Brigade claims that the BB is still as relevant today as it was when it was founded in 1883 (Letter 15 June).

However, considering that the organisation was and still is a Christian evangelical one, it is out-of-date. Nowadays only about half the population is religious and only a minority are Christian.

The activities undertaken by the BB can be done just as well, or even better, without the baggage of religion. It should certainly not be imposing a Christian ethos on five-year-olds. If the BB cannot abandon religion, it should be disbanded.

Steuart Campbell

Dovecot Loan, Edinburgh

Closing the gap

If Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney are serious about closing the attainment gap between better off and poorer children they must take steps to address the reasons why it exists, and is growing.

Reducing the attainment gap requires a serious and holistic analysis of how we lift children and families out of poverty, improve their living conditions, access to support services and consequently their life chances.

It will not be achieved by politicians alone but by involving and listening to experienced practitioners with years of expertise.

The Government needs to be serious about investing in education in the widest sense, so that children who are struggling and at risk can be given the additional support they need. This requires appropriate levels of teaching and support staff, and the cross fertilisation of knowledge and skills between professionals from other disciplines. it also requires much easier access to other services such as social work, health and mental health.

Many experienced educational professionals know that for children to achieve educational success, they require good literacy and communication skills to enable them to navigate the curriculum successfully and interact positively with adults and their peers. Spoken language skills are the building blocks on which literacy skills are developed.

The charity Save the Children warns in its recent report that poverty is damaging too many children’s education before they have even set foot in the classroom due to their poor speech and language development.

The charity is rightly calling for decisive action from John Swinney’s education plan and its three key recommendations should be taken very seriously indeed. They state that there should be qualified teachers and graduates with speech and language expertise in every nursery in Scotland, training for all early years workers in how to support language development, and support for parents to encourage their child’s speaking skills.

The charity’s researchers found that children who struggle with speech and language skills are often behind their peers, and one in five children growing up in poverty leaves primary school with poor literacy skills.

Investing effectively and appropriately in early years is a positive start and should not merely be about available hours.

It should be about ensuring the quality of education and providing the resources to ensure the ability of education, health and social work to work effectively together, sharing their skills and knowledge to meet the needs of our young people.

Mo Davidson

Eskfield Grove, Dalkeith

Garden of plenty

The British Embassy in Bangkok is a pleasing building formerly set in 12 acres of green verdure, serving its purpose since the 1920s.

As that city grew, it provided a welcome area of nature amid the hustle.

In 2005, the government sold part of the front garden, on which now sits a shopping centre. Now the press reports that the building itself and remaining land is to be sold.

I abhor Foreign Office profligacy, but that should not be confused with harmful penny pinching. The embassy and remaining gardens are beloved locally and are an important symbol of British prestige. They ought to be retained.

Christopher Ruane

Ridgepark Drive, Lanark

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