Letters: City left to clear up the mess after finish of festive season

WALKING through the east end of Princes Street Gardens the other day I couldn't help but notice the terrible mess that has been made following the departure of the Christmas attractions accommodated there.

Nobody is denying the popularity, the appeal and the spectacle of the Winter Wonderland, the fairground rides and the Christmas markets, not to mention of course the considerable revenue that these attractions generate.

However, when you see the eyesore that is left behind you do wonder if the mess makes it all worthwhile.

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OK, so the grass will grow back in time and come the summer season the area may look quite splendid again, but is there any unseen permanent damage being done and if so would it not be a good idea to move the Christmas attractions and markets to a more appropriate site?

Angus McGregor, Albion Road, Edinburgh

Give us the facts on ERI inspection

RE your recent coverage on the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate inspection at the ERI (News, 22 January).

If we agree that it was an admin error, would NHS Lothian then agree that if secondary pupils received the questions prior to an exam they would not be seen as cheats?

If the PFI contract states that the private contractor would maintain the fabric of the ERI, why then the rush of the past two weeks?

I find it incredible that such a major story like this can be swept under the carpet and would urge Nicola Sturgeon, the health secretary, not to rest until the full facts come out.

Mary Smith, Penicuik, Midlothian

End of story for Capital bookshops

WHAT is happening to bookshops in Edinburgh? In a city of such great literary giants over the years so many have gone under. Bauermeister, Ferrier's, Thin's, Edinburgh bookshop, Menzies, Borders and soon Wesley Owen.

BS Ferguson, Pirniefield Bank Edinburgh

Keeping promises on trams project

YOUR story "Shambolic tram project is up to two years behind" (News, 25 January) on the progress of the tram project is based on information which is so out-of-date it can offer no meaningful comparison to progress on the ground and is supported by misinformed speculation of the highest calibre. For the absence of doubt, the tram project will be delivered in 2012, as promised, and for a sum far less than 1 billion despite what the apparent experts quoted say to the contrary.

Cllr Gordon Mackenzie, Transport Convener, Edinburgh City Council

Where the price of drink is staggering

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LIKE Randall McLean (Letters, 22 January), I have had the recent pleasure of a weekend in Oslo, including a Saturday night in the pubs with a Norwegian friend. I have to conclude that I visited a different Oslo than Mr McLean.

The main effect of high alcohol prices seem to be to encourage binge drinking. Whilst Norwegians do drink slightly less alcohol overall, they tend to drink it all in one session on Saturday night. And their government's bad attitude towards alcohol means that the majority don't see any reason for drinking alcohol other than to get drunk.

Even though we were in a brew pub, only the foreign tourists seemed to be interested in savouring the beer on offer.

My friend also explained that, like Scotland, alcohol purchased for consumption at home is cheaper than that bought in the pub, so Norwegians have "pre-pub" parties to make sure they don't have to spend too much when they get to the pub. This means that there are really drunk people out and about a lot earlier – by the time they get to the pub, many of them are more inebriated than we are upon leaving. And yes, there are accidents and trouble because of it.

Fortunately, as Mr, McLean observed, even when excessively drunk, Norwegians are generally better behaved than we are. I felt perfectly safe staggering back to my hotel (taxis are also prohibitively expensive) on my own.

Karen Hetherington, Broughton Street, Edinburgh

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