Letters: NHS safe with Yes vote

I TRUST the Lothian NHS boss Brian Houston (NHS unsustainable, News, June 17) is not advocating we follow the privatisation route adopted by successive Westminster governments which has seen spending on private services by the NHS in England reach £8.7 billion last year.

I TRUST the Lothian NHS boss Brian Houston (NHS unsustainable, News, June 17) is not advocating we follow the privatisation route adopted by successive Westminster governments which has seen spending on private services by the NHS in England reach £8.7 billion last year.

Lothian NHS does indeed have major challenges thanks to Westminster’s PFI off balance sheet type of finance. Currently NHS Lothian is paying £1.5bn for the £228 million Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and £35.4m for project at Ellen’s Glen with a value of only £2.7m incurring repayments 13 times the cost.

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Added to the fact that the new infirmary has fewer beds than the old hospital, Mr Houston doesn’t have his problems to seek.

Despite promises from the UK coalition to ring-fence the NHS budget, spending on health has fallen in real terms and this annual cut is passed on to the Scottish government.

After a Yes vote in 2014 the Scottish NHS will have a more certain future as Scotland is wealthy enough to afford a fair welfare and health system and the Scottish government has led the way in tackling smoking and alcohol problems which cause additional pressures on our health service.

Calum Stewart, Montague Street, Edinburgh

No sour grapes in development stance

My offer to work with the Edinburgh Academicals Rugby Club to bring forward other ideas for a viable future for the Raeburn Place ground was both serious and sincere.

I assure readers including Louise Hodgson (letters, June 17) firstly: that I do not consider that there is the remotest possibility in the foreseeable future that the playing fields could be built on for commercial or residential development; and secondly that a substantial majority of the residents and traders in the area are firmly opposed to the proposal to attract crowds of 5000, with a large stand along the length of the Comely Bank Road frontage to accommodate 2500 people, supported by 18,500 sq ft of retail and other development.

It is true that I acted for the club in connection with their ill-fated hotel venture with Festival Inns. I was not responsible, however, for the demolition without replacement of the Accies’ clubhouse, which resulted in the unfortunate cabin encampment on the corner of North Park Terrace.

This and the whole situation in which the club finds itself is entirely of the club’s own making. By comparison, the adjacent cricket ground, on which international matches are played, is immaculately kept and the Grange Club is clearly viable.

If the Accies had any humility they would understand why they are not exactly ‘flavour of the month’ in the Stockbridge/Comely Bank community. I await a response to my offer to bring people together to develop an alternative proposal in Portgower Place. Consensus is possible.

For avoidance of doubt, I have always supported development in Portgower Place, but have always opposed development on Comely Bank Road: there is no question of ‘sour grapes’!

James Simpson, Raeburn Place, Edinburgh

Kitchen should not be exempt from law

I WAS amazed to read M Ashraf’s letter regarding the Mosque Kitchen and the £70,000 fine for employing illegal workers (News, June 17).

Does he think the Mosque Kitchen should be exempt from the law that all other companies have to abide by? He states that it employs a large workforce but fails to mention the seven illegal workers that it employed who wouldn’t have been anywhere near a job centre.

Finally the point that annoyed me most was the offer of a “large donation to a suitable Muslim charity”. Surely if the Mosque Kitchen wanted to “bridge the gap between communities” or “help local communities of different faiths”, a large donation to the nearby closure threatened Engine Shed would have been more acceptable instead of stipulating a charity of their choice.

G Foley, Claremont Road, Edinburgh

Growth springs from modest beginnings

Gus Logan continues to obsess about Edinburgh Secular Society’s membership numbers (letters, June 18). Would he be satisfied to learn that our membership is of course less than that of the major Christian churches? Unlike religion we have not built numbers through 2000 years of compulsory belief enforced with the threat of death, torture or imprisonment.

I can tell him that our membership has tripled since we began in August of last year.

We hope Mr Logan might engage with our ideas directly and abandon this churlish numbers game. He should be reminded that many campaigns started with small groups or individuals with no diminution of the lasting virtue of their ideas.

Does he recall Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst? Or civil rights activist Rosa Parks? Didn’t Jesus start with 12 men sitting around a table?

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society, Saughtonhall Drive

Thanks for making a memorable day out

I ATTENDED the handicapped children’s outing last week and it was good to see City Cabs and Central Taxis working together and forgetting the politics to take the children out for an enjoyable day.

I would also like to thank the Handicapped Committee and all the staff at Yellowcraigs who put in a lot of hard work.

To see Tom Gilzean aged 92, who collects for charity in the Royal Mile, in attendance made it a day to remember.

A Webster, Gilmerton Road, Edinburgh