Letters: Lining the pockets of a few is no way to run a railway

For Sir Richard Branson to suggest that if you work in the public sector you’re just not as “hungry” to be successful as those working in the private sector (Evening News, April 10) says more about the benchmark values of Sir Richard than it does about the merits of who your employer is.

The train service on the East Coast main line failed twice under the private sector.

Since being rescued and taken over by the Government in 2009, passenger growth – especially in First Class – has been impressive and the train service has actually generated some £640 million for the Government’s coffers.

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By contrast, Sir Richard has taken more than £200m out of Virgin Trains since taking over the West Coast main line franchise in 1997.

Moreover, although returning £160m to the government to run these services in 2011, overall Virgin Trains has received state subsidies totalling more than £1.4 billion.

It seems to me far better that the profits from the East Coast main line be paid to all of us in the form of a financial return to the Government than be used to line the pockets of a relatively few shareholders and directors.

These monies can then hopefully be recycled to subsidise, for example, train services in Scotland – most of which will never make a profit.

If the Government is intent on re-franchising East Coast, it should at least allow a UK public sector bid to be considered.

Lawrence Marshall, King’s Road, Portobello, Edinburgh

New houses can lure tenants out

I READ about the severe impact that “bedroom tax” could have in the city of Edinburgh (News, April 10).

I have friends who have lived in their council houses and paid their rent for 30 years, who have taken care of and improved their properties, and who now coming into their 60s and having worked all their lives are faced with having to either move house (assuming suitable housing was available) or having to pay more of their rent themselves.

This is extremely difficult and in some cases means that any savings they may have will be spent on paying rent.

On the other hand, there are families now who need homes and I can sympathise with them. Many of us were lucky enough to get a home when we needed it and those waiting now deserve it too.

It is a very difficult issue as both sides have merit in their argument. However, I don’t think that a no-eviction policy will work. There will always be those who may take advantage of this and it has been proven in other areas that rent arrears tend to dramatically increase where such a policy exists.

Perhaps we should look at suggestions such as introducing a clause into new rent agreements that you may have to move should your family circumstances change and you no longer require that size of house. This should not be done retrospectively, though.

We should be campaigning for new, attractive homes to be built so that we can encourage those in oversized housing to move – not little box flats, but attractive, roomy, one-bedroom houses with garden access in the areas where people currently live and wish to remain.

Catherine Cranmer, Edinburgh

A taxing issue 
for job creation

James McNeill (Letters, April 11) rails against my assertion that some of the unfairness in the welfare system is being addressed by the reforms. He advocates higher wages.

There is already a statutory minimum wage. We will have to disagree about to what extent the Government should intervene and tell companies how much to pay their employees. We need to encourage job creation, not stifle it.

Mr McNeill may be encouraged to note the current government has also taken many of the low earning out of tax altogether by once again raising the tax threshold by more than the rate of inflation.

Cllr Cameron Rose, Conservative group leader

A long way to go for a doughnut

Last Sunday my grandson and I drove past the doughnut emporium at Hermiston Gait.

On seeing the queue of vehicles waiting patiently for their fix of sugar and fat he commented (he’s eight years old): “If someone came all the way from Madagascar for a doughnut they would take one look at the queue, turn round and go back home!”

K Wilson, Middle Norton, Edinburgh