MacLaren should revise opinion on school proposals

WITH the poor state of many school buildings currently in the news, it was hugely encouraging to see that parents at Boroughmuir had taken matters into their own hands and that one, admittedly a top architect, had even come forward with imaginative and practical plans for developing the school on its existing site (News, March 21).

Malcolm Fraser's proposals marry the current school, a listed building, with state-of-the-art developments to create a unique school that would be evidence of both good design and the benefits of harnessing parents' skills. It was, therefore, disappointing to see Marilyne MacLaren's negative response and observation that this scheme would not allow money to be raised from the sale of the existing site.

Perhaps you will allow me to highlight the importance of the existing Boroughmuir School building. When compulsory education was introduced in 1870, it was originally seen as provision only in elementary school.

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However, the programme was such a success that it soon became apparent that some children needed to be offered the opportunity for more schooling and so two high schools were built, Broughton and Boroughmuir.

It is a measure of the initial good design that Boroughmuir is still in the original building, albeit with a few add-ons for subjects like technology.

Malcolm Fraser's plans respect the history of the school and the building whilst creating a truly wonderful learning environment for the 21st century at a knock-down price.

I hope Marilyne MacLaren will revise her opinion and recognise that there is so much educational and city history tied up in the Viewforth site and that it deserves to be treated as rather more than an asset that can be sold.

Judith Gillespie, Findhorn Place, Edinburgh

City needs to make up mind on hotels

YOUR article "Moves to convert boarding houses to hotel thrown out" (News, March 20) reports that the planning committee has rejected plans for the conversion of a former private school boarding house to a hotel of 119 rooms. The committee upheld the views of objectors that the conversion would have blocked the local views to Arthur's seat.

A few days earlier you reported that a hotel in Murrayfield had been acquired by a developer who planned to develop it into flats valued at 1m plus each . . . against the loss of the hotel accommodation.

Does the council want more hotel accommodation, or doesn't it? This is the same planning committee that justified the Caltongate plan with the reason that Edinburgh desperately lacked hotel accommodation?

Or maybe it's just that the view of Arthur's Seat to the residents of the leafy suburbs of Craigmillar Park and the Grange is somehow more valuable to them than that of their less wealthy Old Town neighbours – north to Calton Hill. Have you not seen the illustrations of the giant leisure boxes they intend to erect adjacent to Jeffrey Street which will obscure the views of the Waverley Valley, Calton Hill and the Old Calton burial ground?

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I am fed up with councillors who treat their constituents as if they were idiots with short-term memory loss – and fervently hope that a concerted effort can be made at the next council election to vote down every last sitting council member. It's the only way they'll learn.

David Fiddimore, Calton Road, Edinburgh

Driven round bend by double-parking

I LIVE in a narrow cul-de-sac and people park a metre from the kerb, on the pavement, double park and on double yellow lines. In the morning there are usually six cars parked without "due care and attention".

I have expressed my concerns over the years about restricted access for the emergency services with the authorities such as the police, but basically no-one wants to become involved as it is not their concern. Allow me to quote: "Unfortunately, the police are unable to deal with 'potential' obstructions." For those who are now having the same problems, all I can suggest is that you do not hold your breath!

G Imrie Davidson, Piersfield Grove, Edinburgh

Cavalier Salmond a breath of fresh air

I FOR one am pleased that we have a cavalier First Minister in Alex Salmond who always puts Scotland first and is a breath of fresh air compared to the dead-hand roundhead puritans like Labour MSP Duncan McNeil that ruled Scotland for 50 years.

Calum Stewart, Montague Street, Edinburgh

Local elections need a local focus

AS IT is only six years since the council and Scottish Parliament elections were decoupled, there is indeed a serious headache, as Ian Swanson suggests (News, March 20).

A basic premise when the first Scottish Parliament for 300 years was founded was that local and national elections would be held two years out from each other.

As both council and Scottish Parliament elections are for fixed terms, this seemed to make a lot of sense. Local issues would receive proper attention outwith the shadow of national issues.

Political parties, including my own, are guilty of wearing national blinkers. As a generalisation, career politicians want a limelight that public service-minded council candidates may not court quite so assiduously!

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When MSPs panicked about turnout, councillors elected for a three-year term in 1999 found they were being told to serve for an extra year or cause by-elections. I know, as I was one. There was no concern then, nor is there likely to be now, much concern for how this can affect people's lives.

As the assumption again is that councillors will serve for an extra year, is it any wonder that some councillors may choose not to stand for another possibly non-fixed term?

It seems time for those who care passionately about local government to stand up and be counted. Local elections should be about local issues, and the candidates best able to care for their communities.

Moyra Forrest, Starbank Road, Edinburgh