Venue problems

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Once again Edinburgh is showing the world how to put on not just a festival but numerous such all embracing cultural extravaganzas.

We even read that memoranda of understanding have been drawn up with our antipodean counterparts in Adelaide. It is hoped that both cities and their festivals will gain from sharing of ideas and programmes. I hope that Edinburgh will also look to Australia to learn how important it is for a city claiming to present great music and art in all its forms to have a modern custom-built recital hall.

The Queen’s Hall has stood the city in great stead for decades but it is no longer fit for purpose. This year, as before, there have been superb concerts, not the least the superb Australian Chamber Orchestra on the first day. It is a pity, therefore, that the hall itself is unable to accommodate the festival patrons as it should.

The lavatories are appalling and queues extend into the inadequate corridors not just with women (who sadly usually have to suffer such indignities) but also with men during the whole duration of the interval. There is no foyer; the outside corridors are narrow, so narrow that it is difficult for those in wheel chairs to get from A to B; and the cafe functions more as a holding space till the auditorium doors are opened.

I know that there is a cadre of supporters that feel that the 11am recital in the Queen’s Hall is the epitome of what a real festival us about. But it isn’t and we could do better. Look at Melbourne’s Dame Elizabeth Murdoch Recital Hall and Angel Place recital hall in Sydney. These are custom built, have space, foyers, bars and decent lavatories and they cope far better with the ageing demographic.

Edinburgh missed a chance when they let developers run wild over Canongate when they should have insisted on a quid pro quo in the form of a modern recital hall. Any future give-away development site should be conditional on such. Dr Alan Rodger

Glasgow

Green energy

I must congratulate Ilona Amos on her article “Holyrood and Westminster must work together for clean energy”. (23 August)

She managed to fit in the words “climate change, emission reductions, greenhouse gasses and benefit the planet”.

It must have taken great willpower not to mention that trade body Scottish Renewables and wind turbine investors want clarity about whether they will still harvest huge renewables subsidies.

Ilona Amos says that “the planet is already on track to warm way beyond the “safe” level of 2C above pre-industrial levels that scientists believe would avoid climate catastrophe”.

She should have added that countries at the Climate Change Conference in Paris only promised to reduce emissions and those non-binding promises were less than half of what scientists consider essential.

Scotland can put in more hydro and cover – even more – landscapes with wind turbines and it will make no difference to the 2C target.

Clark Cross

Springfield Road, Linlithgow

It is not shortage of money which primarily constrains the construction of pumped storage in Britain, as your columnist Illona Amos appears to believe, but the lack of suitable sites.

It is necessary to have or to be able to create a high and a low level reservoir. While Scotland has plenty of low level lochs, the majority of these are sea lochs. I would suppose that an environmentalist like Ms Amos would not wish to risk the impact which creating large inland salt water lakes would have on the ecology of the Highlands.

The UK’s present storage capacity is 27GWh, about 
45 minutes of average demand. Using all the likely available sites might increase this to around 80GWh, just over 2 hours of average demand and less than 1.5 hours of peak.

This could do little to address the several days absence of significant wind generation possible at times of midwinter peak demand, let alone the summer to winter storage which would be needed if solar power were to make any contribution to security of energy supply. In fact no known technology is likely to solve these problems at any realistic cost.

Prof Jack Ponton, FREng

Scientific Alliance Scotland

North St David St

Sturgeon visit

I note the curious letter by Jan Cameron (23 August) in which she/he anticipates unionist criticism of Nicola Sturgeon for going to Srebenica, and suggesting she will be accused of “hypocrisy, arrogance and incompetence”. If those who are, presumably, on Ms Sturgeon’s side, think her trip might be viewed in that way, then any accusations of that nature, must have some sort of validity.

Those of us who are often critical of the Scottish Government have no shortage of potential subject material on aspects of daily life which impact on us in real and practical ways. Given the number of barn doors available to us, there is no need for pro- SNP commentators to be handing us the banjos to hit them with as well. It seems that the First Minister’s trips abroad are viewed with suspicion and contempt even within the ranks of her own supporters, and rightly so. She is paid to run a devolved government here in Scotland.

Victor Clements

Aberfeldy

MSP numbers

Scottish politics needs a reality check when it is suggested we need more MSPs at Holyrood because of extra powers. The question is not whether Parliament is too small but whether it works and MSPs show that independence of mind and thinking on the legislation before them and its detail at that.

Backbench MSP numbers could increase tomorrow with fewer Ministers what with ten Cabinet Secretaries and twelve other Ministers and their liaison assistants. Why, we even employ a Minister with nothing better to do than seek euphemisms for the word benefit. Meanwhile Fire Service jobs are going, the Police Service has lost morale and our Health Service has sadly seen better days at a time when demands are increasing. Let Holyrood get to grips with our problems not with its own numbers.

And when someone recently talked about a second chamber for our devolved Holyrood Parliament the New Zealand National Parliament abolished its decades ago and when once passing a pub nearby its Beehive Parliament building I noted apt title House without Peers!

Jim Craigen

Edinburgh

As the silly season comes to an end, Lesley Riddoch finishes with a flourish as she speculates that more MSPs might be what we need (22 August). If a hundred Scots were polled on what they would like more of, I would be pretty confident, to use the terminology of the late afternoon quiz, that ‘more MSPs’ would be a pointless answer. Assuming Lesley was not one of the hundred of course.

Keith Howell

West Linton, Peeblesshire

Brexit

Our First Minister must be close to using her travel budget and racking up the air miles by now travelling all over Europe to meet people with no influence whatsoever in her endeavors to stop Scotland coming out of the EU.

When will she grasp the fact that the people of Scotland elected her administration to govern Scotland and improve the lives of the electorate and the public services they use?

The issues she faces at home such as NHS spending (far lower than in rUK) and a rapidly deteriorating and failing education system to name just two, exercise the minds of people far more than her ill thought out posturing around Europe.

She then has the temerity to say there will be huge financial cost to Scotland’s economy on leaving the EU. This is the same First Minister who mentioned nothing at all about the potential cost to Scotland’s economy should the oil price fall after we had voted for independence in 2014.

Today (Wednesday 24 August) the Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) figures are published and one does not need to be an economic genius to guess that the numbers will look decidedly unhealthy.

The First Minister will do or say anything to divert scrutiny away from the detail of these numbers and the complete failure of her Government across all the major domestic issues.

Why perhaps she might even congratulate TEAM GB on their outstanding performances in Rio de Janeiro when the Scottish Parliament returns to sit in September...!

Richard Allison

Braehead Loan, Edinburgh

It would appear that Nicola Sturgeon has started her own Project Fear by claiming Brexit will make Scotland poorer. The SNP’s economic predictions in their plans for independence in their 2014 white paper hardly inspire confidence.

Why should we believe their predictions of doom now? After the 2016 EU referendum unemployment is down, the stock market up, car sales booming, retail sales increasing, and the IMF now predicting that the UK’s growth next year will outstrip Germany.

William Loneskie

Berwickshire