Seeing red over threat to our greenbelt
IT is true that Edinburgh suffers from an acute shortage of low-cost homes and family housing ("Goodbye greenbelt", January 22). It is also true that the farmland to the west of the city has already been pillaged for development over the last 20 years.
But none of these things mean that the proposed 650 house development – the "West Craigs scheme" – should simply be waved through.
For one thing the shortage of family housing is mainly in the inner urban areas – in these areas, primary schools are under threat from falling rolls.
These are the areas where we should be trying to develop medium-density family housing. Greens have argued the "colonies" model developed in Edinburgh in the 19th century can provide attractive homes, with gardens, for families while still providing enough homes per hectare to offset absurdly high land values.
The sites are available and I know of at least one architect who is convinced it can be made to work. As regards the low-cost element, I noticed that it is unclear whether that is to be for rent or shared equity. If the latter, there is nothing to stop the homes rapidly increasing in price after the initial purchase and very quickly becoming the preserve of the better-off. What we risk being left with, then, is another out-of-town car- dependent dormitory (despite promises of cycle lanes and public transport), with little interaction with either neighbours or the surrounding countryside.
So much for a sustainable city! We really can and must do better.
Councillor Alison Johnstone, Convenor of Green Group of Councillors, City Chambers, Edinburgh
M&S lorries won't help environment
MARKS & Spencer set out their green credentials (News, January 18) when they bought 60 adapted Mercedes lorries.
The lorries' engines are "fitted with a system that allows faster, smoother and more reliable gear changes". This it seems will reduce the emissions count.
This claim sounds very like that made for upgrading a road to allow traffic to move more smoothly. How much effect will this have on emissions in either case?
My advice to M&S would be to rationalise their transportation strategy and eliminate wasteful journeys where lorries travel empty. Alternatively, they could look, at using rail freight where convenient. In itself a train is less polluting than the equivalent number of lorries, even with diesel traction. With such a transfer – from road to rail – there would be victors all round. The reduction in HGVs, which so irritate car drivers by holding them up, would also reduce the accident rate.
David G Guild, Grange Road, Edinburgh
Free up lanes and keep traffic moving
COUNCILLOR Phil Wheeler is right when he says "Greenways and bus lanes play a vital part in keeping the road network flowing as freely as possible by giving buses priority over other road users during peak times" (News, January 21).
Can Cllr Wheeler explain why at non-peak times, some bus lanes continue to ban other road users, even when there may be a bus only once an hour? Surely the road network can be better utilised by restricting the use of all bus lanes to only peak hours, so keeping the road network flowing as freely as possible at all other times.
L Smith, Drum Brae Park, Edinburgh
Elderly need help after shop closes
WHY do none of the bus companies provide a shopping service for the elderly and disabled in the East Craigs housing scheme?
Surely, now that the local supermarket, Somerfield, is due for closure (News, January 15) their need for transport to the Gyle is all the more urgent.
PC Grey, East Craigs, Edinburgh
Swinney doesn't speak for all Scots
FINANCE Secretary John Swinney claims Scots do not want nuclear power. I would like to know what right Mr Swinney has to speak on my behalf about nuclear energy or any other subject.
It is about time the SNP remembered they are a "minority" Scottish Government. The "majority" of clear-thinking people reject their separatist views. And what about Alex Salmond? No wonder he goes about grinning like a Cheshire cat, who's getting three wages and probably three pensions. Out and out greed. Not to mention his pal Sean Connery and the things he did for England as James Bond. Why is he not living here and paying his taxes like the rest of us?
J Thomson, Tyler's Acre, Edinburgh
John's critics have a right to be heard
I AM not accustomed to writing to newspapers but I feel compelled to say this to Helen Martin, why should John Gibson be allowed to have his "critical" views on other people published and not have the same done to himself? I would not call what was said of him "hate mail".
Janet Nicoll, Murrell Road, Aberdour, Fife
City snobbery is alive and kicking
I ENTIRELY concur with the recent views expressed by my old school acquaintance, Eric "Spike" Milligan. Snobbery in Edinburgh is as old as the Castle rock itself.
No more so than in its very own bastion, Morningside. Yesterday I visited this area for the first time in a number of years. The streets reeked of collective middle-class consciousness – from the designer 4X4 baby buggies containing the Olivias and Torquils of this world to the Chelsea Tractors, that would run you over at a moment's notice.
As I made my escape I could not help but notice a policeman was moving on a beggar encamped on a pavement. How ironic is this?
N Nisbet, Moat Drive, Edinburgh
Scottish classics left on the shelf
YOUR report that the BBC are to produce a lavish drama of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles (News, January 22) had me racking my brains to remember the last BBC drama made from one of the many classic Scottish novels.
After all we have recently seen BBC productions of English classics like Cranford, Sense and Sensibility and Oliver Twist. There is no doubt that England is well served by BBC Drama, but where are there series based on novels by Walter Scott, RL Stevenson and more modern writers like Iain Banks or Alexander McColl Smith?
The BBC long ago gave up covering Scottish sport. It now seems that they have also abandoned Scottish culture as well.
Sophie L Anderson, Marchmont, Edinburgh
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