Readers' letters: Council's fight with housing charity was easily avoidable

Your article ‘More than 40 people in danger of homelessness due to row with Edinburgh City Council’ (May 15 ), contains misleading information about the background which led to Right There being forced to withdraw our service to 44 vulnerable people.

Removing our support was without doubt our worst case scenario, and a last resort. Right There presented a number of potential solutions to the Council, however they have not engaged in any meaningful dialogue. We have exhausted all avenues to try to reach agreement with the Council. It was absolutely not a ‘disagreement’ over our ‘financial demands’.

The City of Edinburgh Council are asking Right There, as a charity, to absorb a projected £2.5m deficit to run the service for them over the next five years. Having received increased income through Housing Benefit for the residents in our services, the Council have refused to pass on any uplift to Right There, despite the charity having incurred the increased costs of heating, lighting and staffing the buildings. The housing management payment has remained unchanged since 2019 and we are unable to continue to subsidise this service, as it would cripple our charity finances.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

As the Scottish Government announces that Scotland is in a national housing crisis it is even more staggering that the council refused to negotiate on these payments. This is a situation which could have easily been avoided.

Janet Haugh, CEO, Right There

No new nuclear

The last thing that Scotland needs is new nuclear power, small or otherwise. (Scotsman Editorial 16th May 2024). It is perfectly feasible to supply 100 per cent of Scotland’s energy (not just electricity) from renewable sources. In fact, a recent study [1] by renowned energy modelling academics at the LUT University in Finland, showed that not only is a 100 per cent renewable energy mix feasible for the whole UK but it would save well over £100 billion in achieving net zero by 2050, compared to the UK Government’s current strategy.

It’s true that renewable energy output is variable, and there are times when wind and solar are producing almost nothing. But there are also times when they produce too much power, and we have to pay wind to turn off. The UK could waste more than £3.5bn per year by 2030 this way.[2] The answer is flexibility, not “always on” nuclear power stations which will just end up wasting more power when renewables are plentiful.

Firstly, we need to: reduce overall demand (helping tackle fuel poverty in the process); introduce more flexibility with new smart technologies (for instance making use of demand-response aggregators like Edinburgh-based company Flexitricity), and vehicle to grid technology; build more energy storage – not just batteries, but pumped hydro storage (with several schemes in Scotland awaiting approval), gravity storage (developed in Edinburgh), compressed air storage; and thermal storage (developed in East Lothian).

These are just some of the ways we can make better use of the renewable resources we already have. Nuclear power is too slow and too inflexible and too expensive to play a role in cutting carbon emissions.

Pete Roche, Edinburgh

Sad arts news

I note with sadness that Edinburgh arts venue Summerhall is up for sale. Like many others I anticipate the imminent arrival of a host of developers, with luxury flats and a tidy profit foremost in their minds.

I was lucky enough to have my Club Life show hosted by Summerhall last August. Their staff were incredible, finding space for auditions and scratch shows before the festival, and providing support throughout my run. As a result, the show was awarded a Fringe First by your illustrious organ, one of several Summerhall shows receiving this award in 2023.

After falling in love with Edinburgh as a student, I lived and ran club nights in the city for almost two decades and have returned regularly ever since. My love has not abated, but over the years I have seen the number of Edinburgh's grass roots venues steadily decrease in number, replaced by hotels, flats and offices. The Venue, Calton Studios (where I saw Nirvana) and the Mission were just some of the places where we could go to as punters, and also (if we were brave enough) put on our own events, finding our creative feet and in the process developing a network of safe spaces for the young people of Edinburgh to come together and find theirs. I believe Summerhall is one of these precious places, perhaps the last one left in the city centre.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

My peers and I watch as our progeny and their generation, on reaching adulthood, consistently choose Glasgow over Edinburgh as the Scottish city that not only excites them but also provides them with the opportunities to grow as creative practitioners themselves. If Edinburgh Council wants to demonstrate that it cares as much about the cultural life of the people of Edinburgh as it does about that of the tourists, bankers and students who pass through the city, I suggest that it takes this opportunity to ensure the survival of the cutting-edge arts powerhouse that is Summerhall and its community through direct financial support. It sounds like a bargain to me.

Fred Deakin, London

End to blame game?

The Sturgeon and Yousaf tenures were famed for berating and blaming Westminster for their every shortcoming. It was all the fault of the Tory regime, it was and still is anger and blame on a daily basis

How ironic and absurd then that John Swinney and his ministers are daily encouraging and pleading with opposition parties and Westminster to “work with them”, to “co-operate”, to “reach-out”, to “work together”, to “work collaboratively”, for “cross-party support”, to assist them govern.

Mr Swinney stated in his first speech as First Minister he accepted his part in creating a “polarised” political environment but he ”had changed”. It is very interesting how the SNP attitude has altered now that they are in a minority situation.

Douglas Cowe, Aberdeenshire

‘Colony’ rubbish

I do not know why Leah Gunn Barrett (Letters, May 15) is so upset about Rishi Sunak, who has recently said: ‘Scottish nationalists are even trying to tear our United Kingdom apart’. After all, secession is the nationalists’ raison d’être, and it is the cause that motivates Ms Barrett to write endless letters trying to encourage Scots to ‘end this failing union’. How very frustrating for her that we don’t.

Ms Barrett reprises the Scottish nationalist narrative that Scotland has always been a downtrodden ‘colony’.

This shows a failure to understand the difference between a ‘colony’ and what Scotland actually is, namely an integral part of the UK, which has made a massive contribution to the UK and received massive benefits from it.

Even a venerable SNP MP, Pete Wishart, tells us ‘I don’t know where all this “colony” rubbish comes from but all it does is make the movement look unhinged.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Could you imagine going out Yes canvassing and asking normal people how they feel about their “colonial status”? You’d be laughed all the way down the street’.

Ms Barrett is mistaken in claiming that Sunak or any other pro-UK person says that Scotland is ‘too wee, too poor and too stupid’ to succeed.

That disparaging phrase was invented by John Swinney in 2001 to smear pro-UK people. Pro-UK people do not use it; but nationalists do to try to suggest that that is how those opposed to secession regard Scotland. It goes without saying that we do not.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

Building for future

Contrary to Ken Currie’s claims on housing (letters May 16), Scotland has a much better record on building affordable housing than elsewhere in the UK or compared to the last “Unionist Regime” at Holyrood when there were around 58,000 open homelessness cases in 2006, the last year of a Labour Government in Scotland.

23,510 new homes were built in Scotland in the year to March 2023. This was more than double the rate built per head of population in labour-controlled Wales and a third higher than Tory England.

However, social rent new builds in Scotland last year were running at half pre-Covid levels. That was due to a combination of massive construction inflation costs and supply shortages after Brexit. Also, the Liz Truss mini-budget ramped up mortgage rates, worsened affordability and left more desperate people chasing anything vaguely affordable.

Despite Westminster’s cut of £1.9 billion to Scotland’s capital budget, the Affordable Housing Supply Programme budget is £600 million in 2024-2025 as housing is essential in efforts to tackle child poverty and reduce inequality.

Thanks to the unique Scottish Child Payment scheme, the SNP has reduced child poverty in Scotland to 24 per cent compared to 28 per cent in Labour Wales and over 30 percent in Tory England as confirmed by Channel 4 News on Wednesday evening.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

Raising the alarm

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

There is one thing at which every SNP administration has excelled. While failing abysmally at almost everything else, they have mastered the act of declaring an emergency. Thus we can have the latest “housing emergency” to add to all their other declared emergencies and for which everyone and his dog knows precisely no action of any kind has been or will ever be taken. It is almost as if some in the nationalist camp think if they declare an emergency, that's it, the problem’s solved, would you now get off our back. Primary School politics writ large.

These SNP “solutions” to serious problems should be renamed exactly what they are: “meaningless gestures”.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Write to The Scotsman

We welcome your thoughts – NO letters submitted elsewhere, please. Write to including name, address and phone number – we won't print full details. Keep letters under 300 words, with no attachments, and avoid 'Letters to the Editor/Readers’ Letters' or similar in your subject line – be specific. If referring to an article, include date, page number and heading.



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.