Letters: No need to venture into town to fill that stocking

HIGH street shops, it seems, are worried about the impact of the harsh winter weather on their Christmas takings (News, December 17).

It has also been reported that online delivery firms are fearing the worst as customers worry about the possibility of receiving their goods on time.

I imagine some of the catalogue companies that many people have seen as a solution, with their "buy now and pay it up" offers, are also struggling.

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We seem to rely these days on a super-quick network of rapid answers to the problem of choosing that special gift for our loved ones.

Maybe now people will resort to a solution that was standard in times gone by – skipping the bus journey into town and investigating what's on offer in the local shops.

This shouldn't be seen as second best, because these places may offer an alternative – gifts that are a wee bit different from the "must have" items.

What's more, you will also be putting money into the community.

I've already bought all my presents for the family and will not have to worry about the last-minute Christmas shopping madness I've encountered in previous years in Princes Street, so it's a Merry Christmas for me!

Chris Mann, Penicuik

2.3bn bridge makes us cross

THE parliament has taken another step toward the construction of a ruinously expensive new Forth road bridge. (New Forth Bridge gets go-ahead as MSPs reject fears of a giant gamble, News, December 16)

The Greens are the only party standing against this folly, but we are the ones in touch with public opinion, as YouGov discovered last year.

This bridge is set to cost 2.3 billion if it comes in on budget, making it the most expensive bridge of its type in the world. Next year the government has allocated 200 million to the project. Think how 200m could be better spent in the current economic climate.

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The cuts being put forward for next year by the Scottish Government will see housing and regeneration budgets cut by 60m across Scotland.

Our education system too faces savage cuts. In Edinburgh and elsewhere, pupil-teacher contact time is being slashed. Vital health and community services such as care homes will see funding squeezed and drug treatment services axed.

Glasgow MSP Charlie Gordon says failure to push on with the construction of a new bridge would be taking a gamble with our infrastructure. Those MSPs who backed this scheme have a very poor grasp of what true infrastructure is, and have instead just signed up to a far more risky gamble with our public services as well.

Robin Harper MSP, Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh

Bin excuses have left a bad stench

IN THE west of Edinburgh, we have not had our bins emptied for four weeks now.

I have been in contact with the council and the excuse is the bad weather, but surely this is just a load of rubbish.

During the bad weather we did not mind, but the snow has been gone long enough now for them to catch up. I also noticed that we are not the only street, there are quite a few streets with rubbish bins overflowing in different areas.

I am now wondering if there is still a strike ongoing.

William Peat, Dumbryden Grove, Edinburgh

Expenses claim doesn't cut it

ISN'T Jane Black reckoning that any cuts should begin with councillors' expenses just more tiresome baloney which is now wearing thin (Interactive, December 16)?

If councillors incur costs in the pursuit of their duties as an elected official which they would not normally have, then shouldn't we taxpayers properly recompense them?

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Perhaps if we paid them real salaries, might we then just get the quality of elected official which is so obviously missing?

Who among us who needs to earn income is happy about doing anything for nothing? Why shouldn't the same standard apply to elected officials?

Jim Taylor, The Murrays Brae, Edinburgh