Letters: Loss of Pentlands ranger will impact on care of hills

After reading your article regarding axing a dedicated ranger service within the Pentland Hills Regional Park (News, April 11) it made me very sad / angry that this is going ahead.

I had heard from someone in Midlothian a while ago about this, and it is my understanding that the failure to pass car parking charges had nothing to do with the decision to merge the two services, in fact this was decided way before the car parking issue was raised. It is my understanding that the main problem occurred when Midlothian Council reduced the amount of funding it was giving to the Regional Park. We already pay a high council tax bill so this should come out of that and not car parking charges in the first instance.

As a frequent user of the Pentland Hills it saddens me that they will no longer be looked after properly by a dedicated and highly specialised ranger service with a lot of local knowledge of the hills. Not only will this impact on the care and maintenance of the hills but also the invaluable provision of an education source for our children, local community groups and general public via guided walks etc.

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How can this be justified when the government bangs on about caring for the environment, educating our children and encouraging a healthy lifestyle?

In my opinion, this is only bad news for the Hills, their users and landowners and something should be done about it, if it is not too late already.

Donna Shaw, Edinburgh

Bus pram policy needs awareness

The change of Lothian Buses’s policy is good news for parents with young children, who can find themselves isolated in the early years of their child’s life, and it’s a welcome step towards making public transport in the city work for everyone. Now I’d like to see the Council commit to work with Lothian Buses to raise awareness and promote more understanding between all bus users.

Lothian Buses has made all its buses wheelchair-friendly eight years ahead of target, and is obviously trying its best to provide a service that is accessible to all. I hope all passengers will continue to respect the wheelchair space so that everyone feels welcome.

Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian, Scottish Parliament

We cannot trust Mackenzie’s word

You report Edinburgh transport convener Gordon Mackenzie’s latest tram scheme comments: “We are ahead of programme, within budget and there [is] no cause for concern about the cost” (Chiefs insist trams project will finish within £776m brief, News, April 12).

This is the same man who wrote in this newspaper in January 2010 that “For the absence of doubt, the tram project will be delivered in 2012, as promised... despite what the apparent experts quoted say to the contrary”..

I suppose people’s current fears about this out-of-control white elephant are based on the same “misinformed speculation” that Cllr Mackenzie so loftily dismissed two years ago.

David Jackson Young, India Street, Edinburgh

‘Democracy’ stops short of Scots vote

It was with much hilarity that I had a quick glance through the Scottish Conservatives’ local government manifesto for the forthcoming elections.

In it they proudly boast of their desire to “strengthen local democracy”, with an emphasis on local decision making and councils being responsible for more of their income. Individuals are to be “in control of the decisions that affect them”, with greater democratic engagement in local government and an extension of local accountability. Indeed, referendums are also proposed to give people the power to elect “powerful” provosts.

All interesting stuff, but rather peculiar that this then does not apply to Scotland. When it comes to control of a referendum on independence, despite this pledge of greater democracy and accountability, this logic does not somehow seem to apply to the ability of the Scottish Government to hold a referendum on the future of our nation.

It is more than a little hypocritical to talk of greater democratic engagement and local decision making, but still advocate that Westminster control the terms of the Scottish independence referendum.

Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh