Readers' letters: Dunfermline deserves to be given city status

Back in November 2019, research by the Bennett Institute Of Public Policy at Cambridge stated that the Dunfermline urban population stood at 74,380 and was the fastest growing town in Scotland.

It really would make sense if the Auld Grey Toun is finally given formal city status by the Queen as part of her platinum jubilee celebrations.

In the Cambridge report they tellingly classify Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee as cities and the likes of Inverness, Stirling and Perth as towns, which is what they are.

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Population, not civic pride, heritage and innovation should surely be the main criterion. Does anyone truly regard Dunblane or Brechin as a city?

Cambridge found that Dunfermline was on course for a 100,000 population (the 2022 census will tell us more) as the forthcoming western expansion, strong local economy.

Its role as a commuter dormitory for Edinburgh professionals, the new £200m education campus and ability to attract the new knowledge-intensive industries are the main factors.

Analysis of research by National Records Scotland, Ordnance Survey and the Office Of National Statistics measuring relative economic performance came to the conclusion Dunfermline is the third most improving town in Britain.

Admittedly there are no instant economic benefits from the conferring of city status, but with the Abbey, the historic visitor attractions, the resting place of medieval monarchs making Dunfermline a Scottish Winchester, the Andrew Carnegie story and Glen, it would be a major selling point for passengers coming off cruise liners at Rosyth.

The long-term economic benefit from additional tourism would be a substantial boost to the local Fife economy. Making Scotland's former capital a city is long overdue.

John V Lloyd

Inverkeithing, Fife

Seabird fears

The Scotsman reports “Climate change is blamed for seabird breeding numbers falling by 50 per cent” (4 September).

At the same time, we are carpeting almost the entire country, plus much of our pristine seascapes with what has been described as the new “apex pedator” – hugely-destructive, lethal, industrial wind turbines.

The Isle of Man wildlife charity Manx Birdlife has reported a shocking 40 per cent decline in the populations of many species of sea birds around the island’s coast as windfarms overwhelm the Irish Sea.

Herring gulls are down 82 per cent, European shag down 51 per cenrt, razorbills down 55 peer cent. The list goes on, yet barely a mention is made by any environmental body supposed to be protecting our wildlife.

They shrug their collective shoulders telling us that cats kill more birds, so presumably we may as well accelerate the slaughter!

What sort of perverted, environmental logic is that?

The RSPB has tracked over 1000 of Britain’s four most threatened bird species — kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills and shags — and found they feed at certain “hotspots”.

Many of these are sandbanks where small fish are found – which happen to be the places ruthless developers find it easier to build offshore wind turbines.

The RSPB vehemently objected to the Firth of Forth offshore wind farms describing them as “The most damaging windfarms for seabirds anywhere in the world” adding the proliferation of offshore windfarms could be the “final nail in the coffin” for sea birds.

Yet our blinkered politicians blunder on regardless, hardly any willing to admit that we have got this unnecessary, indiscriminate slaughter of wildlife horribly wrong!

Yours, trying to protect our Natural World not destroy it:

George Herraghty

Elgin, Moray

Voting imbalance

Joyce McMillan claims that the PR system used to elect the Scottish Parliament accurately reflects the 'broad balance of political opinion in Scotland ('Scottish Parliament could let voters pick which candidates are top of list', 3 September).

If she means votes she is wrong. At the last election, the SNP received seven too many seats, the Greens and Tories each two too many, while Labour has a deficit of three and the Lib Dems a deficit of four. Four seats would have gone to others.

One hopes that the Single Transferable Vote system, rejected by the Constitutional Convention, would make a better job of it.

Steuart Campbell

Edinburgh

Off piste

Now, three long years after structural problems forced its closure, repairs to the Cairngorm Mountain Railway, perhaps the most effective local magnet for tourists, have again been delayed, and will miss the 2021/2 ski season.

We Scots should have followed the example of the Swiss who, within a few months, managed to put right very similar funicular damage at Lauterbruennen, replacing the railway with a cable car.

Tourism being a major income generator for Scotland, our problem should have been accorded very high priority. Given the amounts of money spent on far less useful causes, we are all still missing out because of a lack of common sense in prioritisation of investment.

Who is to blame?

Charles Wardrop

Perth

Cats’ toll

A charming photo of a tiny harvest mouse at Almond Valley Heritage Centre in Livingston, which is home to a variety of rare endangered animals, (Scotsman, 2 September).

But all is not well. There are over eight million cats in the UK and they kill 220 million field mice, shrews, frogs, newts and moles and 55 million birds every year.

Responsible owners have house cats and a litter tray. People with outdoor cats and those with more than one cat are irresponsible and are responsible for an environmental massacre.

Cat owners should fit their cat with a bell since the RSPB has said that the sound of the bell round the cat's neck would allow birds and mammals time to escape. I suggest a church bell.

Clark Cross

Linlithgow

Conference worry

As an Alba member I have been looking forward to our first conference in Greenock on September 11/12.

However, with the rise in Covid figures I’m now in serious doubt whether this should go ahead as a live conference

On September 16 a friend of mine is being buried in London. Despite being double jabbed, he caught Covid, almost certainly picked up by his partner from a busy art exhibition in London, three days later he was dead.

Yes he was ill and vulnerable and 82, but he might have lived for a few months more.There will be many, like me, older activists at the first Alba conference, having fought all their life for independence. They are keen to see what Alex Salmond and the new party can promise to progress the cause of independence.

Also I know Alex Salmond will be keen to address a hall filled with a thousand enthusiasts for independence, but is it worth the risk?

Would it not be wiser to postpone the conference or arrange a virtual conference as the SNP are doing on the same weekend?I personally will be disappointed, as I was due to move an amendment calling for an independent Scotland to withdraw from NATO as part of its foreign and defence policy. However, I’m very happy to move that at a virtual conference.Alba had a shaky start, it would be unfortunate if its first conference resulted in illness and possible death to the delegates.

With the rising Covid numbers in Scotland we can’t afford to take the risk and I for one won’t be taking it.

Hugh Kerr

Former MEP, Edinburgh

Foreign affairs

I read Stephen Gethins’ article (Scotsman, 4 September) on Scotland’s place in international affairs with barely concealed anger.

In the Scottish budget for 2021, the SNP are spending, in this one year, £40.1 million on “Constitution, Europe and External Affairs”.

That budget isn’t a “one-off”, it is allocated every year and has increased year on year under the SNP - 500 additional nurses and 500 more teachers could be trained for that money.

Alternatively the SNP could invest the £40.1 million in trading apprentices or providing decent mental health support services. It could even contribute to creating some additional SNP/Green government ministers.

Nicola Sturgeon’s priorities should not be establishing embassies in Tajikistan and Tuvalu. Covid recovery, education, jobs, decent affordable housing and the NHS appear to be well down the SNP/Green priority list.

James Quinn

Lanark

Jury numbers

Once again a member of our small work team is called up for jury service for the same time as others in the team are off on long-booked leave.

There is no point in asking for a deferment because of the needs of our business; we have tried that repeatedly and fruitlessly before.

What really irks is the wastefulness of Scottish jury service. Scotland requires 15 jurors, where England and most of the rest of Anglosphere manage with twelve. Here 25 per cent more disruption is required to form a jury for no other reason than the attitude of exceptionalism of the Scottish legal establishment.

Also, in a mockery of the principle of proof beyond reasonable doubt, a Scottish jury can convict on an eight to seven decision – ie almost half the jury can have reasonable doubts and be ignored. (In England you would need a minimum of ten out of 12.)

It is high time that we reduced the size of the jury to 12, and also increased the degree of unanimity for a conviction.

Otto Inglis

Crossgates, Fife

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