Letters: Chase off cowboys or trade will become like Wild West

I was alarmed to read Audit Scotland’s report that half of Scotland’s local authorities now employ so few trading standards officers that they may no longer be able to provide an acceptable service.

Just as much as consumers, trading standards are crucial to protect reputable traders trying to compete against the cowboys. To the frustration of responsible builders, hard-pressed consumers increasingly opt for the contractor willing to “lose the VAT” but more than likely to do a botch job.

Post-devolution, consumer protection seems to have fallen between two stools with neither Holyrood nor Westminster taking clear responsibility. With trading standards budgets being slashed, the Scottish Government should give more support to existing industry ‘trusted trader’ schemes.

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These schemes give the consumer peace of mind that their chosen trader is properly insured, qualified and audited and will warranty their work.

But government backing is crucial to encourage more consumers to use these schemes and avoid the misery of shoddy or unsafe goods and services.

That way, we can minimise those cases where overstretched trading standards officers are left to pick up the pieces rogue traders leave behind.

Michael Levack, executive director, Scottish Building Federation, Holyrood, Edinburgh

Scotland must get on property ladder

I viewed with interest BBC Question Time which this week came from Lancaster. When the issue of the dumping of nuclear waste was raised an audience member recommended, to peals of laughter from audience and panellists alike, that this be dumped in Scotland and the nation “given” its independence.

Replace the word “Scotland” with “Pakistan”, or, heaven forfend a Scottish audience replace “Scotland” with “England”, one can just imagine the outcry.

And dare I say it, the dumping of nuclear waste in Scotland could become a reality should we spurn the opportunity of independence.

With Trident on the Clyde, because it is deemed “too dangerous” to be stationed in Devonport, the position of Scotland in this unequal union is there for all to see.

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The option on how we address this is however in our own hands – we can continue as a subservient lodger or grow up and take charge of our own affairs. Should we spurn this opportunity we will ultimately only have ourselves to blame.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh

Prime Minister is man with facts

Alan Lough (Letters, January 31) is certainly not a fan of the Prime Minister, but he is wrong to suggest that as an elected representative he must vote for the majority wishes of his constituents.

As the man on the scene he has all the facts and therefore casts his vote with considerably greater knowledge than the average voter.

Greater democracy encompasses allowing elected persons to make a choice as they see fit. To demand otherwise is pure communism.

Colin C Maclean, Edinburgh