Letters: New school will be great chance to benefit Capital

IT has been a long and at times frustrating journey, but at last Edinburgh City Council is set to invest in a new school for Portobello High School (Evening News, December 11).

We have never been shy to criticise the council.

However, we recognise that this has been a difficult decision and involved a great deal of hard work on the part of councillors, officials and parent representatives.

This has been achieved through an impartial and apolitical process using criteria agreed by all the schools involved.

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I understand that this is desperately disappointing for the other schools and hope the council is successful in securing additional funds quickly for them.

We have always been determined that the new school will be an asset for the whole community and we are convinced that the process of planning and designing the new school can demonstrate to all how a new school can truly be the centre of a vibrant community.

We are very lucky to have this opportunity in east Edinburgh and we need to make sure that this investment can benefit the entire city.

Jackie Brock, Chair, Portobello for a New School, Marlborough Street, Edinburgh

Borders investment is a rail good idea

NOW that the work on the West Coast Mainline is finally completed at a huge investment in passenger travel and freight to the tune of 9 billion, at the same time as the economic downturn making is raw materials to build such things cheaper and unemployment looking a certainty to rise, it would seem a good a time as any to rebuild the Waverley Route and bring the works forward to take full advantage of the present climate.

But will this government take the bull by the horns and extend the line to, say, Hawick, helped in part by the decrease in VAT? Two and a half per cent off 295 million is a lot of money.

What better time to take full advantage of the downturn than make it work for ourselves the people of Scotland.

As of today's date the only track laid on the Waverley Route is by a group of volunteers at Whitrope on the B6399, 12 miles south of Hawick.

Geoff Ruderham, Craigour Gardens, Edinburgh

Leaders should be sharing our pain

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UNEMPLOYMENT currently stands at 1.8 million but is expected to rise rapidly to two million in the new year and could reach 3.5 million by the end of 2009.

Hundreds of thousands of worried workers have already agreed to pay cuts to try to keep their jobs.

Corus, JCB and the car industry are all cutting take-home pay.

Vauxhall has just offered employees nine months off work at 30 per cent of the wage.

The taxpayer is burdened with 646 MPs, 129 MSPs, 70 MEPs and over 670 in the House of Lords.

There are over 19,000 councillors in England and Wales and 1222 in Scotland.

Would it not be great publicity if these leaders offered to share our pain and cut their salaries and expenses?

Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow

Religious element of Act should go

ALTERING the Act of Settlement would open such a can of worms that the best option would be simply to abolish the religious element entirely.

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The current Act discriminates against not only Roman Catholics but all other religions, not to mention atheists and humanists.

Banning marriage of the ruler to a Catholic is particularly unnecessary as such a partner would not succeed to the throne. Apparently, the 1701 Act stipulates that only Protestant heirs of Sophia can accede to the British throne, but it doesn't appear formally to forbid marriage to spouses of religions other than Catholic.

Perhaps reflecting recent changes in our society, Prince Charles reportedly intends to become Defender of all faiths on accession. It might therefore be reasonable to expect him to defend the right of their adherents to aspire to monarchy.

The new Act will obviously open up the throne to Catholics, but the fascinating question is will it include a list of excluded categories?

Robert Dow, Ormiston Road, Tranent

Teachers not to blame for truancy

I REFER to the article about the truancy rates of Edinburgh schools being so much higher than those of other parts of Scotland (News, December 12).

I am sad to see that once again teachers are being held accountable for not "engaging" the pupils enough in their studies to keep them from "bunking off". Surely much of the blame must lie closer to home.

As a city primary teacher I am only too aware that many of our children are plucked out of school prior to the end of term.

Understandably in times of recession and credit crunch parents choose to take their children out of school early in order to travel when fares are cheaper, rather than wait until the end of term when all travel fares rise at an exorbitant rate.

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The only difference now is that the council's method of recording absence is much more strict and since permission cannot be given for families to take their children out of school early the absence must be recorded as unauthorised thus inflating our absence figures.

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