Readers' Letters: 20-minute neighbourhood makes no sense in post-pandemic world

I have read about mainly Green attempts to promote the “20-minute neighbourhood” idea, and today have seen a photograph of Edinburgh councillor Scott Arthur sitting in the sun and “enjoying a beer in my 20-minute neighbourhood”.
Edinburgh councillor Scott Arthur is an advocate of the '20-minute neighbourhood' notion (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)Edinburgh councillor Scott Arthur is an advocate of the '20-minute neighbourhood' notion (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)
Edinburgh councillor Scott Arthur is an advocate of the '20-minute neighbourhood' notion (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)

Given Mr Arthur is a councillor for Colinton, Oxgangs and Fairmilehead, I’d have thought his neighbourhood covered an area that could not be entirely accessed in 20 minutes, even by car, and certainly not by cycling, walking or “wheeling”, as the jargon has it.

At least we now know what Edinburgh City Council’s agenda is: to return us to the Middle Ages, where villagers regarded those in neighbouring villages as ‘foreigners’. I should have thought that, after the ravages of the pandemic, the council might have wanted to attract citizens to return to the city centre, to encourage businesses to establish themselves in the shuttered buildings that used to be a part of a thriving retail culture. But for many of us, there is no certainty that a bus would get us there from home in 20 minutes.

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Perhaps I should start a book on which aspect of modern living is to be the next to fall victim to the town planners and anti-technology brigade. I am aware my newish gas boiler is under threat. Perhaps, with the predicted water shortage, the council will shut down my plumbing. That really would be the end of civilisation.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

Camping morons

It’s difficult to understand how irresponsible – and downright stupid – people can be when they’re asked to behave like law-abiding citizens, for good reasons. I refer to the attack on a ranger by campers in Tentsmuir Forest when he asked them to put out a campfire for safety reasons (your report, 3 June). This was just a week after a devastating fire in the forest required Scottish Fire and Rescue Service crews to douse the flames, which had been the result of a campfire.

Those people had no respect for the forest, no respect for nature and no consideration for anyone but themselves. Those who have respect for the countryside, and who don’t treat it like a vast garden in which they can do anything they like, know how to behave. The campers who thought that they had a right to have their fun, regardless of the potential danger to the environment, deserve to be severely punished for their arrogance.

Firefighters risk their lives every time they tackle a blaze in these extremely dry conditions. They should be treated with the respect they deserve, not attacked for appealing to the public to behave responsibly.

Carolyn Taylor, Wellbank, Dundee

Cringe no more

We hear a lot about the “Scottish cringe” these days, for example from Elizabeth Scott (Letters, 30 May). First used in 2004 by then First Minister Jack McConnell to berate our aversion to private enterprise, the term was reinvented by nationalists to characterise those – like me – who question the notion of independence. But it does exist.

We see and feel it in every stumbled, scripted Holyrood “ministerial statement” – often in confected “Scoddish”, in the cross-party, tartan-trewed bonhomie of B-list politicians posing during New York Tartan Week, and Dougie McLean tribute acts whining Caledonia to a scatter of William Wallace, Flora McDonald and C U Jimmy wannabes at the fag-end of another AUOB trundle past the bemused pedestrians of our cities.

The generation of Scottish youngsters Ms Scott imagines peaked 30 years ago. They harnessed the chips on their shoulders and excellent education to go out and succeed in sport, academia, business, science, medicine, engineering and politics. What we see now are the results of nationalist exceptionalist hype and declining education: a trickle of outstanding young individuals outnumbered by those who have been told they can, and are entitled to be, anything they want – but not that they need to work, practice and want it hard enough.

You don't believe me? Just count the number of Sots playing in the English Premier league, or those gaining degrees in the hard subjects at our universities. Or ask employers who either can't find suitably qualified youngsters or who have a policy of not employing them because they are unreliable.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Ferries failure

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Can we assume that since CalMac is failing to run a ferry route for a month that the Scottish Government will cut its grant, with immediate effect, for this reduction in tendered service?

James Watson, Dunbar, East Lothian

Stop power grab

It was unfortunate that in his Perspective article of 5 June Brian Monteith did not point out that the simple solution to Holyrood’s centralising power grabs is for the Green Party and the SNP to honour their 2020 pledge to implement the draft Wightman Bill and thus devolve both political and financial controls out of Edinburgh to local communities in Scotland.

Surely if the SNP/Green alliance refuse to take the honourable course of action and legislate their pledges to the people of Scotland then Westminster needs to step in and distribute the Barnett formula cash directly to local councils.

Ian Moir, Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway

Grab power

The UK Tory government has now intensified attacks on Scotland’s democracy, and indeed, that of the devolution settlement itself, by blocking decisions taken by the elected Scottish Government on devolved matters. This follows senior Tory Brexiteers urging Westminster to “roll back” and in fact “reverse” Scotland’s existing powers.

With this and all that has happened in the last decade the question is, do the Scots really wish to remain under the thumb of an elite, corrupt Tory government whom they have not voted for since 1955?

Ever since the disaster of Brexit the UK has become a more centralised, unequal and far right society, languishing in one of the worst-ever cost of living crises. With old people uncared for and more children going to bed hungry, the growing social divide is the mark of a broken Britain.It’s clear that independence in Europe is the best future for Scotland. The decisions and control of its many assets and resources is best made by the people who live and work here, rather than remaining trapped in a fractious, post-imperial Union.

Grant Frazer, Newtonmore, Highland

Fossil fuel right

Coal, gas and oil were formed during our planet’s development, as indeed was the human race. They are here for us to use as fuel, and have a lifespan greater than ours, so there is no need to be looking for alternatives. Anyway, there are no alternatives. If we stop using what was given to us as energy, we step back as a civilisation. If we continue using it we move forward. Perhaps to populate other planets in other galaxies, and I believe that is the intention. It is the purpose of mankind. It is what we are here for.

So the campaign to stop oil is just a passing fad in a second of eternity.

Malcolm Parkin, Kinnesswood, Kinross-shire

Deposit debacle

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It’s easily seen that Humza Yousaf was the SNP continuity candidate. His first big test came with the deposit return scheme and he is blaming Westminster for not acceding to his demand to exempt the legislation without conditions, just like his predecessors in office would have done.

The First Minister’s Green colleague, Lorna Slater, was well warned that her legislation would likely fall foul of the UK Government but she decided that Scotland would go its own way nevertheless. Mr Yousaf’s intervention is surely more about saving Ms Slater’s credibility, such as it is, than anything else – and who knows what the debacle will cost the taxpayers if the scheme is shelved.

Bob MacDougall, Oxhill, Kippen, Stirlingshire

Old renewables

I read with amusement The Scotsman’s story about the proposal to capture CO2 and pump it into underground storage.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with the idea – apart from the fact trees would capture CO2 much more efficiently, and generating the energy needed to store it may well generate more carbon dioxide than is stored – there is one tiny little thing no-one seems to be mentioning… once buried deep underground, the carbon in the gas may well, in the fullness of time, react with other elements – or even any water it comes into contact with underground – to form hydrocarbons, in other words, gas or oil, which would to some degree make oil and gas “renewable” fuels... and rather defeat the argument for banning their use!

Ian McNichola, Waunlwyd, Ebbw Vale

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