Letters: Building plan would give needed homes and jobs

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It is welcome news that the Scottish Government has listened to the housing sector and agreed to make available £44 million to increase the grants for housing associations so that they can get on with the job of building homes.

The Scottish Government pledged to build 4000 social homes each year of this parliament. But with only 2781 new social homes started last year, action was needed. This is a timely reminder that good homes and good communities need good investment.

This is a step in the right direction, but the only way to end Scotland’s housing crisis for good is to build at least 10,000 new affordable homes per year.

This will bring the double benefit of a home for many of the 157,000 households on council waiting lists and vital jobs for the building industry.

Graeme Brown, director, Shelter Scotland, Edinburgh

Women are denied treatment they need

Much to our disappointment, the Scottish Medicines Consortium recently made the decision to reject the secondary breast cancer drug Everolimus, also known as Afinitor, for use on the NHS.

More than 1000 Scottish women die every year from breast cancer, the vast majority from secondary breast cancer. Unfortunately there are very few treatments available for this stage of the disease.

Yet clinical trials have proved Afinitor could slow the growth of cancer for up to a year, and for most women, side effects are also mild when compared to other treatments, allowing women to continue doing the things they care about such as spending time with loved ones, working or caring for family.

It has been hailed as a “ground-breaking” drug and we think it is one of the most exciting breast cancer treatments to come up for approval in years. But it was rejected because it was deemed too expensive.

Breakthrough Breast Cancer believes the system for approving medicines in Scotland has to change to allow more flexibility around cost.

We will do all we can to influence decision-makers so that women with secondary breast cancer are not denied the treatment choices they need and deserve.

James Jopling, director for Scotland at Breakthrough Breast Cancer

Puzzle over Diamond Dan, the cartoon man

The Evening News reported on November 8 last year that the city council education authority had withdrawn a cartoon of Diamond Dan, the Orange Man, from a city school because, although this was unknown to the school teachers and probably the pupils, it is used as an emblem of the Orange Order of Northern 

Last Saturday I observed the Orange Order Annual Parade through George Square, Glasgow.

It was an impressive and orderly display of the key values that are celebrated by the Order, such as the victory of the William of Orange over forces allied to the ousted former Roman Catholic monarch James VII and II in 1689.

This victory established the Protestant monarchy which we still have today and which all the major political parties appear determined to continue, whatever the outcome of the independence 

It is thus hard to understand why Edinburgh’s education authority should have removed this disguised but innocent symbol of loyalty to the crown, devised and propagated by a lawful organisation, other than interpreting it as display of uninformed prejudice.

Norman Bonney, Palmerston Place, Edinburgh

A double fault from the First Minister

I WRITE in reply to letter by Alex Orr “Why not fly the flag after win?” (News, July 9).

Mr Orr appears to miss the point as to why the First Minister’s actions of Centre Court have been met with derision among many proud Scots. Unfurling the Saltire behind David Cameron smacks of pulling faces behind the teacher’s back.

Of course it may well have been Mr Salmond’s intention to impress the school children of this land, given his desire to allow them to cast a vote in the forthcoming referendum.

However, it appears that Mr Salmond’s behaviour within the confines of Centre Court has resulted in a spectacular double fault.

Alan Weatherhead, Woodhall Road, Pencaitland, East Lothian

Government sums that don’t add up

Like, I am sure, many members of the public, I struggle when economists and politicians casually start to talk in billions.

Perhaps the following may help to put things in perspective, (it helped me):

A billion seconds ago it was 1959.

A billion minutes ago, Jesus was still alive.

A billion hours ago, we were in the Stone Age.

A billion days ago, nobody walked on two feet.

However, the Westminster Government manages to spend, (or miss-spend), a billion pounds every 13 hours!

This may explain why, on their predicted figures, in two years, the National Debt will be £1.6 trillion, ie one thousand six hundred billion pounds . . . surely unrepayable.

When the new schools curriculum is instituted in England, let’s hope arithmetic finds a place on the agenda for Eton!

Joseph G Miller, Gardeners Street, Dunfermline