Readers' Letters: Parties must act to make Festival City a joy

Being a pedal cyclist in Edinburgh isn’t much fun at the moment. Apart from the regular hazards of potholes and road works, there are now gutters full of rubbish, including broken glass.

Edinburgh Council, a Labour, Lib Dem and Tory coalition, has brought the city to its knees, and cyclists to a stop. There is no point in entering a designated cycle lane if it is also a designated trash trap.

Routes north across the city are now dangerous. There is a bottle neck at the Royal Mile before the steep descent down the Mound; Lothian Road has always been dodgy, with cars accelerating into the Western Approach Road; and the North Bridge is a no-go area while the building works drag on. In addition, many of the “cut-throughs” have been liberally sprayed with sick and urine – come to Edinburgh for the full 18th century experience!It would be good if this unionist coalition could get their act together – it IS the Festival City – and improve quality of life in Edinburgh. But how can it? The only thing they agree on is unionism. They happily ignored the SNP majority chosen by Edinburgh’s citizens, and now find themselves unable to make decisions. Listening to Labour councillors whinge about needing financial support from the Scottish Government is sickening. Edinburgh is one of the richest cities in Scotland, turned into a muck midden by unionist politicians whose only interest is in themselves.

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Frances Scott, Edinburgh

Come to Edinburgh for the full 18th Century experience says reader.
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Bins laden

The Scottish Government can borrow £600 million per year within a statutory overall limit of 1.75 billion. It has had these powers since 2017. Can someone tell me why it cannot use these funds to give to local authorities in order to settle the bins dispute? Thanks.

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Jim Park, Edinburgh

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Local champion

It does not augur well for future relations between a devolved, or even independent, Scotland and the large regions of the rest of the UK when the mayor of Greater Manchester and the First Minister cannot even agree on whether they have set up a meeting or not (your report, 24 August). We can make some allowance for the bad feeling caused over the travel ban imposed by Holyrood on large parts of the north west of England during the Covid crisis; or even for Nicola Sturgeon feeling aggrieved that Andy Burnham seems to have requested the meeting as an adjunct to his trip to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. But I think more maturity and statesmanship could have been displayed. For in their different ways both politicians have shown the best of what devolution can achieve

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There is so much they can learn from each other on green energy and jobs, transport, the environment, tackling homelessness and poverty, local democracy, training and education, developing a healthy and aspirational population, even coping with a crisis. From what I took from his “In Conversation” event at the Stand Theatre on Tuesday, Mr Burnham has been chastened by his experience of office in central government, and is now a passionate advocate of decentralisation as a means of revitalising the British economy and helping people achieve what they are capable of.

Whether he has achieved enough to deserve the accolade of a future Labour leader is questionable. He has humour and ministerial experience but I think lacks the serious qualities needed for success on the national stage. That need not be to his disadvantage because a nationally recognised local champion can sometimes deliver a lot more than someone who postures on the national stage and delivers a lot less.

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Bob Taylor, Glenrothes, Fife

Thanks, Boris

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What a glorious time it is to be a Tory.With the bins strike in Edinburgh it’s clearly the fault of the Scottish Government. In Glasgow, however, it’s the fault of the SNP council administration. Down south the RMT and barristers' strike is purely down to unions wishing to hold the country to ransom. The economic and cost of living crisis is the EU and previous Labour governments’ doing, while the queues of lorries at Dover and the time it took for those crossing the channel recently was the bitter French being typically difficult with us.

In fact, because everything is the fault of someone else, both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak can tour the country for months entertaining their tiny electorate by promising huge tax cuts and assuring the faithful just how damned “tough” they are, while their leader, who insisted he had to stay in post until September to keep the ship steady, suns himself in Greece and thinks about the thoroughly excellent job he has done.

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If only people would stop moaning about their energy bills, retail prices, sewage being pumped into waterways, the PPE corruption, the billions written off due to Treasury incompetence and the catastrophe that Brexit has been and appreciate just how much this Johnson government has done for us.

Some people are never happy.D Mitchell, Edinburgh

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Dropping penny

A new set of GERS figures and yet another blow to Nicola Sturgeon's stuttering independence campaign. Since the figures are better than last years the SNP might not find it easy simply to dismiss them, but the underlying situation is still grim. We have yet to hear from Ms Sturgeon any real details of her new Indyref push but if it is to be taken seriously, some sensible comments on these GERS figures are needed, or an alternative, if she has one, supplied. Financially, Scottish independence still appears very much a non-starter. It looks as if this is the case legally too. When is the penny finally going to drop?

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Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

Priorities please

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Hard on the heels of informing us that the unacceptable state of Edinburgh's roads will remain “until 2030”, the council’s transport convener announces plans to double the size of the tram network. He suggests an optimistic timescale for this could also be 2030. One wonders if, within the same period, the current tram works – not to mention the ongoing tram enquiry with a cost of £12 million and rising – will also be completed?

Plans, ambitious or otherwise, are an important part of the council's work. However, most Edinburgh citizens would probably settle for properly surfaced roads – safe for both motorists and cyclists – and rubbish-free streets; preferably before 2030.

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Derek Stevenson, Edinburgh

A little respect

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The vast majority of supporters of Scotland’s independence would condemn any verbal abuse or the use of derogatory language such as that displayed recently in a banner at the Conservative and Unionist Party Perth hustings by a tiny group of protesters with questionable motives. The vast majority of those opposed to Scotland’s independence would also condemn offensive expressions if emanating from the BNP or Scotland in Union trolls.

There is a tiny minority with questionable motives who wish to prevent open, polite and constructive debate as we move towards another plebiscite on Scotland’s constitutional future, so there is an obligation on the rest of us, including those given the privilege of expressing our views in national newspapers, to recognise and condemn scurrilous intent while remaining respectful ourselves in order to advance our common democratic principles.

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Stan Grodynski, Longniddry, East Lothian

Head over heart

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Leah Gunn Barrett tells us we are sick of being a colonial outpost and that the majority of Scotland's money goes to Westminster (Letters, 24 August). This is followed, as usual, by a flurry of exaggerated facts and figures. A few weeks ago in these columns I asked her to tell us how an Independent Scotland could have coped over the past two and a half years if we had had to borrow the many billions Westminster poured into our economy to deal with the effects of the pandemic. I asked what effect the consequentially enormous interest and repayment costs would have had on our economy. What this would have meant for the man in the street in terms of increased taxation and cuts in public services. There was no reply to this question, even though all the figures are in the public domain. Accurate, substantiated figures.

I fully understand the emotional appeal Independence has for a lot of people. I think we've all been there at some point and to some extent. However, once the head starts to take over from the heart, the prospect of living in an independent bankruptcy will be somewhat less enticing.

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D Mason, Penicuik, Midlothian

Talk the talk

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There is to be "formal support” for the protection of the “Scots language” in Scotland. The use of both Scots and Gaelic is to be extended, and a suite of new laws will promote the use of Scots. Given the favours the SNP regime has bestowed on Gaelic – with signage in parts of Scotland where it was never in use – I have often wondered why the SNP leadership has not introduced the compulsory use of Gaelic in the chamber at Holyrood. Well, no I haven’t. It would be too much like hard work for MSPs to have to bone up on Gaelic, which has no affinity with English, to the extent that they would be able to use it in normal discourse.

But now the solution is at hand. Scots is a dialect of English and many of us can understand it adequately. It might stimulate popular interest in the deadly torpor that is Holyrood if MSPs addressed each other in such terms as “fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face”, or, more likely, insults in Scots.

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Whatever, MSPs must realise that it is up to them to give the country a lead in language. Or else leave us alone.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

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