Readers' letters: Demolitions show Edinburgh’s planners are failing the public

I find it quite incredible that the RBS Building on Dundas Street in Edinburgh, completed only in 1991 and empty for several years, is now being demolished along with its neighbour facing on to Fettes Row, also built only 40 years ago and it too empty for much of that time.

Just what is going on in Edinburgh and what can we expect in the coming decades?

These are key buildings given permission by Edinburgh City Council and erected despite much public, especially local, opposition. Buildings supposedly contributing to the economy of the city.

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Cities need investment and investors but such key sites should be developed in a manner that makes a long-term contribution to the future economy of the city but also which enhance its character. These two "here today and gone tomorrow” buildings have failed on both counts.

The RBS building which is being demolished in Edinburgh's Dundas StreetThe RBS building which is being demolished in Edinburgh's Dundas Street
The RBS building which is being demolished in Edinburgh's Dundas Street

Perhaps we have another building about to face the same fate. What was a much-heralded five-star Missoni Hotel (later the Radisson) at 1 George IV Bridge opened in 2009 but operated for only a few years. It has been scaffolded over for almost five years, now standing as a blight on a street in the heart of a World Heritage city.

This is not sustainable development by any stretch of the imagination and not the kind of investment needed. Empty, redundant buildings, eyesores to behold, not providing jobs and not adding any benefit to the the city or its people.

Perhaps a tax on such empty buildings might make developers think long-term or else build in flexibility to enable a more multi-use or even mixed-use approach to avoid such white elephant buildings existing.

I have not even started on the matter of the waste of energy and materials and the high carbon footprint of such buildings.

Leslie Howson, Edinburgh

MPs’ disdain

Tory MPs have made clear their disdain for party members by forestalling a leadership election: setting a threshold as high as 100 nominations and withholding sufficient of these that only one candidate reached it.

Their excuse is that we can’t wait another five days for a new Prime Minister. Why, then, was it previously acceptable to take two months? That simply invited candidates to present a detailed manifesto before they were able to pick a cabinet, a promise-fest which proved counter-productive. Why should an internet vote take several days?

Now we shall have a Prime Minister who has earned the gratitude of all who received furlough handouts, but possibly not those who didn’t yet will have to fund these through taxation, higher interest rates and inflation.

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Given the sidelining of members and the unprecedented wealth of the new leader, wouldn’t it appropriate for the party to abolish its membership fee? One might go further and suggest a free buffet and drinks at meetings.

John Riseley, Harrogate, North Yorkshire

PM imposed

A new party leader and a new Prime Minister, which begs the question: is it a new start for the country? Can we expect some stability for the country and importantly for the markets?

The country is in economic crisis, thanks to the Conservative Party and the elite election by around 350 sitting MPs of a new Prime Minister is in no way demonstrating democracy.

Let’s look at what part Scotland played in this appointment. Scotland’s only input to the leadership election and subsequent appointment of the new Prime Minister came from six MPs, yes, six Conservative MPs, the total sum of Conservative MPs in Scotland, (around ten per cent of all Scotland’s MPs and less than 0.02 per cent of all Tory MPs).

The appointment of Rishi Sunak sees Scotland effectively having yet another Conservative Prime Minister imposed on Scotland against her better judgement – after all it is over half a century since the Conservatives achieved achieved more than half of the popular vote in Scotland.

Catriona C Clark

Banknock, Falkirk

Sturgeon v Sunak

Surely Rishi Sunak is the last kind of Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants in Downing St?

He's unlikely to be as controversial as Boris Johnson nor, frankly, incompetent like Liz Truss. Plus he’s regarded as a centrist rather than from the right of the Tory Party – so it seems that Sturgeon will need to refresh her anti-Westminster spiel. Undoubtedly her extensive taxpayer-funded spin-doctor team will already be working on how to attack Sunak politically and possibly personally.

Yet it’s clear Sunak, who looks like he may be diplomatic and dull, a safe pair of hands, serious PM with an eye for detail and super smart with numbers, offers Sturgeon significantly fewer opportunities for her familiar brand of negative rhetoric than his immediate predecessors.

Martin Redfern

Melrose, Scottish Borders

Disraeli first

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It was interesting to note various news outlets describing Rishi Sunak as Britain’s first ethnic minority Prime Minister.

This of course sadly disregards one Benjamin Disraeli, the 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, the first and only Jewish Prime Minister to date, who held the post firstly in 1868 and then again between 1874 and 1880.

He also had a long way to go to become Britain’s youngest Prime Minister, who was William Pitt ‘The Younger’, who reached these heady heights in 1783 at the tender age of a mere 24.

Pitt served as Prime Minister for a total of just under 19 years, making him the second longest serving Prime Minister after Robert Walpole.

It is to be welcomed that Mr Sunak is Britain’s first Prime Minister of colour and first Hindu in the role, but one very much doubts that he will enjoy Pitt’s period of time in office.

Alex Orr


History matters

Donald M Henry and Hugh Pennington (Letters, 25 October) draw attention to the importance of Scotland’s history, and of context. For the non-professional historian the works of, for example, TC Smout, Sir Tom Devine, Christopher Whatley and Murray Pittock, cite primary and secondary sources, evaluate these in context, and refer to the works of other scholars.

Flodden is outside the scope of Murray Pittock’s Scotland The Global History 1603 tothe Present, published this year. However, he discusses Darien and Culloden in context, and shows that they are very much of contemporary significance.

History matters!

E Campbell

Newton Mearns, EastRenfrewshire

Border rights

Discussion over the Scotland/ England border (Letters, 25 September) reminds me that James VI regarded the existence of this (actually non-demographic) border one of Scotland’s greatest problems and even gave English border wardens permission to ignore it.

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Becoming king of Great Britain and Ireland gave him the opportunity to solve the problem in his own bloodthirsty fashion: hanging, or drowning in The Tweed, hundreds of the lower orders of the perceived troublemakers.

Many of their leaders were luckier, in being transported to and being given estates in the North of Ireland (the so-called Plantation). Privileged Scottish Presbyterians into a largely Catholic part of Ireland? Was that the seed of the “Troubles” in what became Northern Ireland 300 years later? And do we really want to reinstall that hard border with England which visited so much trouble and poverty on Scotland in the past?

A McCormick

Terregles, Dumfries & Galloway

Taking care

This week marks Care Experienced Week, aiming to celebrate the care-experienced community.

Those in this category represent some of the most vulnerable members of our society, experiencing considerably fewer life chances than their peers, with poorer health and educational outcomes. They are however involved with a care system that is complex and fragmented.

Such a system highlights the challenges that still lie ahead in delivering "The Promise”, which seeks to improve the lives of children and young people who are care-experienced, ensuring that they will feel loved, safe and respected.

Scottish Government actions in this area, including the recently published Implementation Plan, which aims to significantly reduce the number of children in care and move from crisis intervention to early intervention to support them, are to be applauded.

However, we still hear of too many young people who are not receiving the appropriate individualised assistance they so desperately need and sadly fall off a cliff edge as they leave care, driven by age criteria.

As a society we need to ensure that momentum is maintained and funding increased, with the Scottish Government, local government, care community and others working together to deliver the necessary transformational change in our care system.

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Kenny Graham, Lynn Bell, Stephen McGhee, Niall Kelly, The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition, Edinburgh

Close embassies

It is beyond understanding why all western countries do not send all Russian Embassy staff packing until such time as Vladimir Putin stops the wholesale destruction of Ukraine.

All we seem to see is conference after conference on the matter of Russia's extreme vandalism but nothing much ever gets done.

We have no need of Russian Embassies and Consulates when they act simply as puppets of the Kremlin, supporting the indefensible actions that we are seeing for far too long.

Derek Farmer, Anstruther, Fife

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