Letters: Edinburgh can't afford another trams-style fiasco

THERE is a huge question mark over the future of West Princes Street Gardens.

WHY'S winning design. Picture: Jon Savage
WHY'S winning design. Picture: Jon Savage

For the sake of commercial exploitation, will the ­Gardens really be turned into something like a quarry for several years, so they can end up looking like an abandoned quarry in perpetuity thereafter?

That is what the prize-winning ­design looks like to me. Heritage chief Terry Levinthal, director of the Cockburn Association, describes the Gardens as “the heart of the city”.

Borrowing his metaphor, does the city truly require major heart surgery or will the proposals chiefly benefit the ‘heart surgeons’ and the blood-sucking parasites who are to occupy the newly created cavities and chambers in our green heart?

The city does not have an encouraging track record for decisions of this type. The billion pound tracks, pylons and cables currently cluttering Princes Street would seem to indicate that it might be brain surgery rather than heart surgery the city needs.

Alan Murphy, Learmonth Grove, ­Edinburgh.

Scandal of one million Scots living in poverty

What is perhaps most shocking about the Government figures published last week showing one million Scots living in poverty is not that 19 per cent of the population cannot afford to eat ­properly or buy shoes fit for winter or enjoy good health or go on holiday, it’s that work was supposed to be the way out of all that.

Most of those suffering the constant humiliation that poverty brings are ­employed. In 21st century Scotland the employed poor far ­outnumber the unemployed poor.

Yet none of us are surprised are we? We all know someone working for the national minimum wage or less. We all know someone working ­under 20 hours a week.

Part-time, poorly paid jobs are now at epidemic proportions in Scotland, with employers in the retail, care, hospitality and security sectors the biggest carriers of this contagion.

The Department for Work and Pensions says you need to be earning £10 an hour and working at least 35 hours a week to pay your own way. But that rosy picture is increasingly ‘pie in the sky’ for millions of workers across Britain now, who must rely on various ‘top-up’ benefits simply to make ends meet.

The Scottish Socialist Party believes these levels of poverty in Scotland are an outrage that shames each and ­every one of our MSPs and MPs.

If the DWP say £10 is the minimum hourly rate working people need to be paid, with a commensurate number of hours, then why is that not the single biggest political priority for all parties at Holyrood?

Our MSPs and MPs on £70,000 a year don’t seem to give a damn for the million they have left behind.

Colin Fox, National spokesman, Scottish Socialist Party, Alloway Loan, Edinburgh.

Tatty-bye to one-off comedy legend Doddy

AFTER the death of John Lennon I was saddened by the loss of another hero of mine in Ken Dodd recently.

I was just too young to see the Beatles on stage at the ABC cinema in Edinburgh in 1964, but I was able to see Ken Dodd four times over the years, the last time in Glasgow about a year ago.

Although not as sharp as in the past, he still had the magic. I always hoped I would meet him in person but never made it.

I thought so much of Ken Dodd because he did make you laugh non-stop. He broke attendance records that will never be beaten. He was a one-off, the like of which we will ­never see again.

Rob King, Hutchison

Crossway, Edinburgh.

Parents’ fears over Oxgangs are justified

PARENTS are correct to have threatened to remove their kids from the privately built Oxgangs primary school after staff and pupils were ordered to stay indoors when wind damaged the roof, only weeks after ceiling tiles had collapsed.

This school is surely in crisis and was also at the centre of a major safety scare when an entire wall, which contained many tons of masonry, crashed down due to high winds.

One can understand how concerned the children’s parents must be about this school.

Surely it’s an absolute must that ­safety is of the most vital importance. The incidents which occurred are ­extremely alarming.

Mrs June Fleming, Hercus Loan, Musselburgh.

Anti-semitism must be taken seriously

When I first moved to Scotland over 20 years ago, I’d never had a personal experience of anti-semitism, except from church pulpits.

These days the word ‘Jew’ has been swapped for ‘Israel’ but it’s one and the same to most anti-Semites. I received letters calling me a ‘Yid’ in the first year or so of living here, no one cared.

One Armistice Sunday I was on the Royal Mile when I came across an anti-Israeli demo. The speaker said, ‘We have to stop this worldwide Jewish domination and Jewish supremacy’. Again no one cared.

Many years ago I found a book in a high-profile bookshop full of anti-semitic cartoons; the manager of the shop removed the book, mortified it had been on his shelves.

When I mentioned the book to the authorities so they could keep an eye on the London-based publisher, once again the anti-semitism was ignored.

Also society wrongly presumes that rabbis and influential members of ­local synagogues or Jewish organisations represent all Jews and on all matters Jewish – they don’t.

We are a race and should be accorded the same rights as any other race of people, and if we report racism as individuals it should be taken seriously.

And our Government dares to wonder why there has been an increase in anti-semitic attacks.

Elaine Pomeransky, Restalrig ­Gardens, Edinburgh.