Penalties for car space are parking mad

ONE of the great tribulations of our times is the presence of bungling officialdom. When this is combined with chicanery, the effect is even more unpleasant.

I was the grumpy old man in the photo above your story (Parking attendants 'ambush' public at confusing road sign, News, June 9), one of many outraged motorists who have received tickets after parking legally at Comely Bank.

Your story rightly pointed out the confusion of the sign which indicated that you could not park there during the day, while at the same time one just below it stated that you could park there - for up to 30 minutes!

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Excellent as your report was, it did not mention all the unsavoury aspects of the council's "nice little earner". Apparently the warden has not been issuing tickets for cars parked in the bay to the left of this sign. However, he has been moved to penalise cars parked in the same bay to the right, beyond a non-existent line.

It would be good to know who this specially gifted warden is, given his remarkable powers to discern lines invisible to us lesser mortals. Strangely enough, his signature on the ticket is illegible, so we may never know.

Apparently Councillor Phil Wheeler, the city's transport leader, has invited me to contact him.

Well here's a better idea, Phil! Why don't you contact me instead? Even better, why don't you contact the News to announce you are annulling all these dodgy tickets issued in the last couple of months and to say that fines already paid will be refunded?

Frank Hepburn, Glenlockhart Valley, Edinburgh

Campaign not an overnight success

WITH reference to your article on David Martin hailing the possible end of the trade in cat and dog fur which appeared in the Evening News June 6, I am delighted that Mr Martin has now lent his support to this campaign.

It's not something that has just happened overnight - this is the result of a continuous united campaign to raise awareness of this barbaric practice and its lucrative open market place in Europe.

This piece of legislation has been eight years in the making and I have been working closely with Humane Society International, leading the European campaign to halt this trade. It was here in Scotland where I first found a cat figurine which, when DNA tested, confirmed it was, bizarrely, made from imported dog fur.

Since then, I have battled to get the European Commission to draw up a draft regulation proposing a ban.

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Of course, now that we have victory in our sights, many organisations and politicians are predictably queuing up to claim ownership of the entire campaign. For example, a French animal welfare charity which I have never heard of has just paid for a mammoth four-page advert in an international newspaper, claiming it was their campaign from the outset!

I wish to set the record straight. It would be an insult to those like Heather Mills McCartney, Rick Wakeman and those Humane Society investigators who toiled, often undercover and often risking their lives, to expose this barbaric trade, if false claimants were allowed to hijack the victory that now seems assured.

As a nation of animal lovers, we abhor this practice which sees upwards of two million cats and dogs raised in despicable inhumane conditions in China only to meet an untimely and barbaric death to feed the European fashion industry. If there are to be any winners in this campaign, then these innocent cats and dogs are the real victors.

With extensive support from the public in Scotland, it will be a real victory for the people if this European legislation is approved in Strasbourg later this month.

Struan Stevenson MEP, The European Parliament, Brussels

Come on SNP, give to non-drivers too

AS an ex-SNP member I am appalled by the Executive's transport initiatives. We appear to have elected a bunch of climate change deniers and hypocrites.

We now have the most pro-road, anti-rail, anti-environment Government since Mrs Thatcher.

Tolls off the bridges but no suggestion of forcing ScotRail to reduce their fares on their bridges, hence a huge increase in pollution and congestion. We have a scandalous delay, if not cancellation, of trams while no suggestion of delaying the M74 (has anyone in the SNP read the inquiry report into that monumental white elephant?).

I applaud the possible cancellation of EARL, based as it is on climate-wrecking increases in flying, but cannot understand why the SNP do not see that the trams will provide the alternative they say they want. It is vital that the entire environmental movement and all public transport users put pressure on David Black to back the trams and reject EARL on economic and environmental grounds.

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When are the SNP going to produce something for the benefit of non-motorists? We are now, even more, the most discriminated-against group in the country.

Douglas G Smart, Bellfield Avenue, Musselburgh

Don't subsidise this vicious sport

AFTER watching live footage on I am writing to urge readers heading to Spain this summer not to attend bullfights despite the persuasion from travel agents that the event is a festive and fair fight in the name of tradition.

It is in fact a fight between a bull and several men, horses and weapons - lances that are driven into its back and neck muscles meaning it cannot lift its head and have a so-called fighting chance.

After being weakened by further stabbing, chasing and trauma, the matador appears and after a few more charges, tries to kill the bull with his sword. If he misses the animal is stabbed at the neck until paralysed, but he can get this wrong also meaning that the bull is fully conscious when its ears or tail are cut off as trophies. The bull may then be dragged away alive from the arena to be butchered out of sight. A recent academic survey also discovered that many bulls are drugged before they enter the ring to further distort them.

The Spanish tourism industry relies heavily on British visitors to bring in money each year. This year make difference and boycott the fight, even better, avoid the bullfighting towns and cities that rely on your cash to subsidise the bullfight business.

Susan Mitchell, Drum Street, Edinburgh

'Bomber' should be released at once

IT has been somewhat depressing over the last few days watching Westminster and the Scottish Executive's unseemly squabble over whether or not the "Lockerbie Bomber" has been included in a deal over Libyan prisoners.

As any open-minded and fair person who has reviewed the evidence will tell you, Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi is totally innocent of the crimes for which he was convicted having been fitted up before a kangaroo court in the interest of political expediency.

Instead of emulating the excesses of a school debating society, Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, should seek to right this national disgrace by instructing the immediate release of Mr al-Megrahi who should also be handsomely compensated for his ordeal at the hands of Scottish "justice" - what better way to spend a good chunk of the money which will undoubtedly be saved by cancelling the Edinburgh trams?

John Eoin Douglas, Spey Terrace, Edinburgh

Cheap rate doesn't apply to everyone

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A FEW weeks ago my husband was a patient in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, and as I am disabled and could not visit, I had to depend on the bedside phone service "Patientline". I was delighted to be told that the cost had been reduced to 26p per minute. That was until I received my phone bill - the 26p was only from BT landlines and as I am with Virgin Media, it still cost me 49p per minute. It was costing me about 1 before I could even speak a word to my husband. So beware.

Jean Duff, Parkhead Terrace, Edinburgh

Get act together for our theatres

IT'S not that long ago that the Usher Hall had a vast sum of money spent on it to renovate the inside. Why oh why is all this disruption taking place and yet more money being spent on further work on the outside when the King's Theatre just up the road is crying out for urgent repairs?

I feel some wrong decisions have been taken. Surely the King's should be fixed up first and then, if there is any money left over and if the changes to the Usher Hall are really necessary, then by all means carry them out.

Sylvia Wilson, Maxwell Street