Build on the views of Old Town residents

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Do council planners take sufficient notice of the views of local people when major developments are being designed and built? Get in touch and tell us your thoughts.

IWAS surprised to read (Letters, September 26) that the convener of the planning committee, Councillor Trevor Davies, agreed with a member of the community for once, when I called for housing for families and people on modest incomes to be a priority in any development on the former New Street bus depot site. But then what career politician in their right mind wouldn't with an election looming?

However I must disagree with several points he raised.

The "widespread public consultation" he talks about consisted of one community planning day (this only happened at the insistence of the community) from which there has been no feedback or discussion; two exhibitions of the masterplan, again only at the community's request; and the council's consultation leaflet - again no feedback.

Cllr Davies says there are some who oppose any development - he only has to look at the community's alternative strategy for the area to see that this is not the case.

Who are the people who are pressing him to get on with it? Would they be the developers, the architects, the banks? I haven't seen people out on the street protesting that it's about time they got that five-star hotel built.

The masterplan to date proposes pulling down a red brick Victorian school, a unique stone-built art deco building and 18 homes in two 1930s stone tenements - nine of which are still affordable council-rented homes - yet Cllr Davies says that the committee will require that materials used in the development fits with the existing neighbourhood (what's left of it).

Perhaps he is referring to the new glass-fronted Edinburgh City Council headquarters in East Market Street?

If valid community consultation and engagement has been carried out, then the community should be fully consulted on the revisions to see if they have been listened to, not given a week to say if they have or have not, then forced to look on powerless as the same committee passes what could be virtually the same plan on October 5.

I call on this planning convener not to "act in haste and repent at leisure" and all concerned to request an appropriate period for feedback and comment before it is taken back to planning committee. The revised plan will be available from today on the council's website and at the city development office at 1 Cockburn Street - something I believe hasn't been made known to the general public. Perhaps another widely advertised public exhibition would have resulted in true community engagement.

Sally Richardson, Canongate, Edinburgh

Gaelic is 'modern language' too

YOUR article anent the proposal to teach Scots Gaelic at James Gillespie's High School (News, September 23) states that some would like to have "more modern languages" taught in its stead. The use of "more modern" strikes me as terribly odd. How can Gaelic be more, or less, modern than, say, French or Catalan or Malay. All are still being spoken and used in our modern world - unlike Latin, Akkadian and Elamite.

I suspect, however, that your article unfortunately reprises an unoriginal anti-Gaelic bias: that it is somehow "backward" and "of no use and value". That is something best left out of a story.

Why? Because an article shouldn't appear to be telling us what to think. That approach is unduly patronising as it suggests readers are unable to think for themselves. Furthermore, it surprises me that only parents opposing the measures are referred to or quoted in the article. Why not find one who is actually in favour of the initiative, thus injecting a new twist into reporting, that is positivism!

Andrew Cook-Jolicoeur, Montcalm Street, Montreal

Supermarket creep storing up trouble

I WAS delighted to see that almost 70 per cent of Evening News readers polled believe that it's time the council took action to stop supermarkets squeezing local shops out of business, and I agree with the contents of C Wilson's letter (September 26) - though I do oppose Tesco's move into the convenience market.

At first glance supermarkets seem to offer improved choice, reduced cost and increased convenience. But really their aim is to seduce customers with eye-catching offers and use their buying power to cut prices, something smaller businesses just can't compete with. Once the small shops have been forced to close, there is no alternative but to shop at a supermarket, and no requirement for them to offer reduced prices.

The proposal "provides the opportunity to create a new community focus" by turning the Colinton Mains store into a Drumbrae-sized store. If this is allowed to happen they will wipe out business from Oxgangs to Craiglockhart and the only "community focus" this part of South Edinburgh will have is Tesco.

I have already been contacted by concerned business owners in Morningside. One newsagent has closed since the Tesco Express at Holy Corner opened, another is about to do so. If the current proposals go ahead we will have three Tesco stores within a two-mile stretch of Colinton Road, our local shops will close and the community will be the poorer for it.

Well-used shopping parades create a sense of place, and well-walked streets don't suffer from high levels of vandalism and crime. I fully support the shopkeepers and residents who are campaigning against this double threat - both at Colinton Mains and at the Esso site on Colinton Road.

If we lose our local high streets and simply have residential areas serviced by multinationals we will have lost a vital feature of Scottish towns and cities, I would venture to say our very heart and soul.

Robin Harper, Green MSP for Lothians, Scottish Parliament, Holyrood, Edinburgh

Piping's hot with visitors to Capital

I'M writing this letter about pipers in Princes Street (News, September 20). I work in Edinburgh Castle, and as an ex-forces piper, and a guide in the War Museum, I can only say keep these pipers playing. I'm asked in the Castle time and again where visitors can hear the pipes especially now the Tattoo has finished.

All I can do is point them to Princes Street and the High Street. Some of these pipers are fair and some are damn good so they can take their choice.

Wish I could get my own pipes out but the job won't allow it!

Charlie Carruthers, Poplar Street, Dunbar, East Lothian

Lib Dem policy will hit poor hardest

WHILE John Barrett MP tries valiantly to defend the Liberal Democrat's tax policy (Letters, September 26), anyone reading it will quickly find it to be half-baked and economically illiterate, hitting the poorest hardest, despite Mr Barrett's protests.

Lib Dem proposals to change income tax and national insurance would see a tiny benefit of 266 for a full-time worker earning the minimum wage, but would amount to a benefit of 3500 for someone earning 100,000 and above, clearly benefiting the richest most and hardly representing a redistribution of wealth.

In addition to this, changes to vehicle excise duty will mean that average families will be hammered running ordinary cars like Ford Mondeos, forcing them to find 850 a year to tax them, more than five times the current level.

In order to balance the books, this aspect of the tax policy is also dependent on people not changing their behaviour, for if they did, this would mean that any anticipated windfall to the Treasury would simply not materialise.

With everyone from motorists, pensioners, businesses and those on low and average wages worse off, it is clear that these policies are foolish, incompetent and clearly not thought through.

Alex Orr, Bryson Road, Edinburgh