Pay more vehicle tax to end Scotland's pothole misery - readers' letters

Potholes are a regular source of complaint for drivers on Scotland's roads (Picture: John Devlin)Potholes are a regular source of complaint for drivers on Scotland's roads (Picture: John Devlin)
Potholes are a regular source of complaint for drivers on Scotland's roads (Picture: John Devlin)
A reader points out that drivers in the Netherlands pay more in vehicle tax than their UK counterparts – but the roads are in a much better condition.

Recently I visited Scotland to see family and for a vacation. Being a Scot I love going home. What I dislike, however, is driving in Scotland. Potholes everywhere – and having a 21-year-old car pure torture for my wee “beastie”. Everyone talks about it.

I live in the Netherlands where the roads are in general in excellent condition.

I looked into the vehicle tax situation in both countries.

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Here in Holland car tax is paid according to CO2 expulsion/ weight ratio. For example, an Audi Q3 (the car my brother has in Scotland) costs him £180 per year to tax. Here, in the Netherlands that would be 900 euros per year, with a diesel version 1750 euros.

But would the Scots be prepared to pay more if the money was guaranteed to be used to improve the roads? Thereby releasing money for other branches of society such as health or education.

An added benefit is that making the tax more expensive would make people think twice about buying heavier cars, thereby reducing wear and tear of the road surface and CO2. Never a bad thing.

Andrew West, Den Bosch, Netherlands

No infrastructure

Chancellor Rachel Reeves is to be commended for her desire to achieve a record housebuilding effort (Scotsman, July 9), but where is the investment for new infrastructure such as roads, electricity, water and sewerage to support such schemes?

Existing UK roads are in an atrocious state with countless hazardous potholes requiring multi-billion pounds spent to repair them even before new roads are built.

There is no additional electricity available unless the National Grid is rebuilt – estimated to take 12 years at a cost of £340 billion. Meanwhile, planned wind farms are blighted not so much by planning laws but by requiring their electricity to be transported to users. Presently there is a 13-year queue for wind farms, often wanting to hook up to the existing grid using pylons. The wires on pylons emit radiation. Indeed, there are areas around Edinburgh where old pylons carrying high-voltage cables breach such basic safety considerations as being kept at a 200 metre distance from houses. These need replaced. Will the government’s promised new planning rules ignore such basic safety considerations?

There is no new water and sewerage availability without new reservoirs, pipelines and treatment works. Scotland has only its first reservoir and pumped storage scheme in 50 years now under construction at Coire Glas. In England, there are no such multi-billion-pound schemes.

No one questions the importance of expediting the building 1.5 million new houses, nor that existing planning laws need reform. However, many question not only where the massive monies required can be found but how long it will take to build the missing infrastructure needed before these houses can even be built?

Elizabeth Marshall, Edinburgh

Enter Obama

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At the Republicans’ weekly press conference on Tuesday, the American media were accused by senior politicians of covering up Joe Biden’s mental state. Time after time the President has exhibited behaviour which is strange and at times worrying. Moreover, he has a temper. Sometimes this can be seen in the angry face he pulls, and he has also said to have a dark side, having been described as “an egomaniacal autocrat”.

In response to calls from Democrats to stand down, Biden said he would only relent “if God came down” and told him to do so. He is 81 now with failing mental acuity, and although still able to read huge print on a teleprompter he is given photo cards showing him the way to and from the podium. What would he be like in a few years as leader of the free world?

Biden must be replaced. Kamala Harris, the Vice President, is even more unpopular than Biden. Neither is she the brightest star in the geopolitical firmament. Gavin Newsom, the wealthy governor of California, has been tipped as a possible challenger, but under his leadership California’s homelessness and drug problems have rocketed while its education system has failed. Thousands have fled the state. His ultra-liberal views would also be unacceptable to millions of Americans.

Predictions are always risky in politics, but although she has said she is not interested in becoming President, opinion polls indicate Michelle Obama would beat Donald Trump. Therefore, I suspect Joe will be dumped in favour of Michelle. If Michelle favours a hands-off role the choice of her VP will therefore be crucial.

William Loneskie, Lauder, Scottish Borders

Benefits of unity

As one who doesn’t consider complete independence either a sensible nor a realistic choice for us, I nevertheless have some sympathy for the view expressed in his final paragraph by Grant Frazer (Letters, July 9).

Of course, Scotland is a nation with a long and eventful history and a distinctive culture, while Scots have made major contributions of global significance to science, engineering, philosophy, economics, medicine and literature.

However, it is perhaps worthwhile pointing out that the Enlightenment. the industrial revolution and the birth of the modern sciences all occurred after 1707. It doesn’t seem that the Union in any way held the nation back during the last 300 years and there seems no reason to suppose that it is any different today.

Barry Hughes, Edinburgh

Dangerous drivers

The controversy about the dualling of the A9 is never far from the headlines. How long will it take the public to accept the concept that there is no such thing as a dangerous road – only dangerous drivers.

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If only people were courteous, patient and law-abiding drivers there would not be nearly as many accidents on our roads. So wake up and place the blame for accidents where it belongs – upon each and every one of us.

William Dryburgh, Aberdour, Fife

Hope for jobs

It is welcome news that Prime Minister Keir Starmer has pledged to work to safeguard jobs at Grangemouth. More than 400 jobs are at risk after Petroineos announced the oil refinery at Grangemouth would be shut early next year and would then only be an import terminal for finished fuels.

Grangemouth is Scotland’s sole oil refinery and supplies petrol and diesel for the majority of petrol stations in Scotland and the north of England. It will be interesting to see if Grangemouth becomes the catalyst to politicians realising that, contrary to what the green demonstrators are saying, we need oil and gas for years to come and that the North Sea needs to yield up every last drop and so reduce our reliance on imports from unstable and unfriendlycountries. Pity there is a fracking ban in Scotland for shale gas

Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian

Titanic bill

Dr Richard Dixon’s continued support for hugely expensive weather-dependent energy (Scotsman, July 10) reminds me of the film Raise The Titanic, which cost so much to make for so little taken at the box office that some wag remarked that it would have been cheaper to lower the Atlantic. By the same measure, surely it would be cheaper to invest in changing the climate?

Malcolm Parkin, Kinnesswood, Perth & Kinross​​​​​​​

Rewriting history

The SNP has been routed in the General Election, with the former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon watching in horror as an ITV panel member. One wonders if she will now have considered a rewrite of the chapter in her forthcoming book covering her “legacy”? I have my doubts.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh

Non-dom problems

James Macintyre (Letters, July 9) is surely right to say that abolition of non-dom status may well induce a number of those affected to relocate abroad, with a net loss to the Treasury.

Another point is that those who remain and have income taxed abroad and now in the UK will presumably be eligible for double taxation relief. Points to consider would be whether the individual concerned is resident, non-resident, ordinarily resident, whether they have a pied-à-terre in the UK, how long in the tax year they have spent here in total, etc.

The only thing that is clear, I suggest, is that the amount of any additional tax to be got from abolishing non-dom status is unpredictable and should not be budgeted for.

S Beck, Edinburgh

Just not cricket

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It’s a sad indictment of the BBC’s lack of cricket coverage these days that the “booing of Novak Djokovic” story ran so long. On Tuesday we had the bizarre sight of John McEnroe laying into the disrespectful fans who had booed Djokovic in his match with Holger Rune, totally oblivious to the direct parallel with the supportive shouts of “Roooooot” when Joe Root comes out to bat for England. The tennis fans were not booing Djokovic but greeting Rune’s play.

Neither McEnroe, Clare Balding nor Novak Djokovic know anything about cricket, so have jumped to the false conclusion that the Serb was being booed. He may be a great player but he’s terribly brittle. He’s also completely wrong about the booing, and the BBC should have explained the context. The Corporation’s lack of cricket coverage is clearly a contributory factor to this non-story.

Brian Bannatyne-Scott, Edinburgh

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