The Council Tax reduction on second homes was scrapped about three years ago although many of these properties do not require the full amount of council services as occupancy can, obviously, be less.
Our family have owned a modest two-bedroom second home in beautiful Pitlochry since 2008, for family use only, and take exception to Dr Foxley’s quote regarding second homes "...as they provide little or no local benefit, apart from cleaners".
We as a family have been a major benefit to the local community, supporting local shops, hotels and restaurants, Pitlochry Theatre, Enchanted Forrest, Highland Gatherings Golf and much more, suggesting we have contributed more than many local residents.
Hopefully councillors in due course will give a more measured consideration to all second home owners and not apply any disproportionate increase in future Council Tax bills.
G Bonnington, Douglas Road, Longniddry, East Lothian
It may well have suited the ambitions of monarchs and politicians to try to persuade people that divisions are necessary. But over the ages this has led to strife and in many cases war.
In modern times the peoples of the British Isles have learned to live together, and to put conflict behind them. However, to some, borders still seem to exist, but they are wrong because such lines on a map of the UK are merely historical and have no place in today's society.
The whole concept of Scottish independence serves no real purpose within the UK; it merely attempts to undermine what is a modern democracy in an ever-changing world.
Whether the zealots of the SNP will admit it or not, there is no easy route for an “independent” Scotland to leave the UK, and to become a member of the EU.
Firstly, how would the powers that be at Holyrood cope with the problems they would face with “the border”, which they have created in their own minds at Gretna; also to the north of Berwick-upon-Tweed, and elsewhere in the Southern Uplands.
And another frontier even more daunting for them now that the UK is no longer in the EU would be the English Channel.
Would it be unkind to point out to Nicola Sturgeon that she simply cannot just have her cake and eat it?
In any case, the Scottish Executive, now termed Government, simply has not got sufficient strength in its Economy to support its policies or ambitions! The GERS figures relating to the Scottish economy do not make good reading, and are highly unlikely to improve at all under this SNP administration.
Change will inevitably occur in Scotland, as it will in all parts of the UK, but it should not be allowed to follow the pattern prescribed by the separatists!
Robert IG Scott, Northfield, Ceres, Fife
Why is mortality from confirmed Covid in Scotland (1 in 30), much higher than in England Wales or Northern Ireland, where it’s 1 in 60?
W Anderson, The Courtyard, Belfast
As of Saturday January 16, England had given 61,000 vaccinations per million of population and was rapidly increasing on their daily rate. Scotland had reached only 41,000 per million people.
That England is already 50 per cent ahead in delivery rate does not look very encouraging for Scotland ever catching up. That a mass vaccination programme had to be organised in readiness for the vaccines has been obvious for many months.
Vaughan Hammond, Braco, Perthshire
The Scottish Government’s vaccination rate leaves it extremely questionable that the Scottish Parliament election in May should proceed.
While, apart from the complexities of establishing and maintaining safe polling stations, we should especially remember those voters in the 30 and under age group who would not have received the vaccination by May.
This would mean the Scottish Government, having cancelled exams in June of this year for fear of increasing infection, would be saying to those in education and further education that it is not safe to sit exams but it is safe to go out to a busy polling station.
I would hope the Electoral Commission would play a role in this decision and that it would not just be left to the party in power, the SNP, to make the decision to put winning an election above saving lives.
MJ Dunsmore, Cargill Avenue, Kilmacolm
After demanding publication of detailed vaccination progress, the pathetic attempt by Tories to deflect attention from their Brexit lies to Scottish fishermen by calling for Jeane Freeman to be investigated for a possible breach of the ministerial code is blown out the water when it turns out that NHS England detailed the NHS Specialist Pharmacy Service Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine pathway critical control points on December 7.
Unlike Boris Johnson, Scotland is following the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advice which was very clear that those who live in care homes were the top priority for vaccination against Covid-19. Due to our better integration of health and social care, Scottish health boards were able to deliver the Pfizer vaccine into care homes in December, with 80 per cent of residents and more than 55 per cent of health staff now vaccinated.
The UK Government is spending £43 billion on mass Covid testing using lateral flow tests, which is not the best use of money as they are significantly less accurate than Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests and it would be far better to pay people to isolate as test, trace and isolate is the best way to manage the pandemic.
Jacob Rees-Mogg’s uncaught fish may be happily British but we humans are unhappily British due to Boris Johnson closing down international travel 365 days too late when, as an island, the UK should have been the best placed to stop Covid in its tracks rather than having the worst record in Europe, with the resultant dire economic consequences.
Mary Thomas, Watson Crescent, Edinburgh
Hold to account
I'm astounded that the Rev Dr. John Cameron believes that Richard Nixon's pardon proved wise (Letters, January 16). I have only ever heard that it enabled the mindset of the 1980s Iran Contra Scandal, that laws were a puzzle to work your way around the letter of. The mindboggling corruption and illegal war of the George W Bush administrations were not punished, and we were rewarded with someone who doesn't even pretend to follow the law’s letters, or to pay his taxes.
Henry Kissinger documented that Gerald Ford only became president because he was the only candidate to take over Spiro Agnew's position who agreed to a pardon in advance in exchange. Otherwise, he was Nixon's least-favoured candidate. Ford went on to be the first ex-president to turn the office into a launching pad for lucrative speaking careers, no doubt another thing that attracted Trump to the role. It's time to actually trying holding power to account for a change.
JJ Bryson, Professor of Ethics and Technology, Hertie School, Berlin
Unfit for office
Since Joe Biden’s victory in American’s recent Presidential election, I have been impressed by how statesman-like he has been. He hasn’t gloated or sought revenge over Donald Trump and is trying to unite the nation, which has been deliberately divided by Donald Trump for his own political agenda.
This is in contrast to the view of Rev Dr John Cameron, who appears to exonerate the President of all blame and reminds us that “the noblest form of revenge is to forgive”. Joe Biden doesn’t seek revenge, but before anyone can seek and be given forgiveness, that person must say sorry for what they have done. President Trump has never apologised for any of his insulting remarks to people or nations, or for his misguided policies such as “Covid 19, it’s nothing, just like the flu”.
The main aim of an impeachment trial is to ensure that he cannot run for public office again. This is not revenge but to restore peace in a nation that has been at war with itself thanks to Donald Trump and his conspiracy theories; this is a man who was saying that the election was rigged, before the election had even taken place.
How do you organise vote rigging in a number of states, across the nation, some of them Republican, without anyone finding out? All of the complaints of vote rigging were examined by the courts and all were thrown out of court, but President Trump continued to successfully whip up support for his conspiracy theory.
Any reasonable person can see that he cannot bear to leave office for any number of reasons, the most important one, possibly, being that there are a number of writs coming his way when he has lost the protection of the Oval Office
Vincent McCann, Fearnhill Gardens, Edinburgh
While one sympathises with the Brexit predicament of the fishing industry, the question arises: are our fish exports to the European Union being treated any differently to such exports from other non-EU nations?
If all have to obey the same rules and paperwork, and if these rules and paperwork have been active for a year or two, why hasn't that industry readied itself for the change? What has the SNP's fishing minister been doing since we opted to leave the EU?
Clearly not nearly enough, by the look of things.
Tim Flinn, Garvald, East Lothian
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