Readers' Letters: Scotland must ban e-scooters completely

Ambulance call-outs in England to deal with e-scooter incidents have escalated to 480 in the first eight months of 2021 and exceed 840 since January 2020.

Trials have been ongoing to assess the safety of e-scooters (Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty)

The true figure will be higher since only a third of ambulance trusts provided data. Well over 2,000? Sadly, three people have died. Most of these incidents involved privately owned e-scooters, which are illegal to use on UK roads and pavements. A trial involving hired e-scooters is ongoing in England to see if e-scooters should be permanently allowed on the roads. With injuries ranging from 840 to 2,000, many serious, the answer must be No.

In Scotland e-scooters are illegal but can be used on private land with the permission of the owner. Police Scotland were unable, or unwilling, to say how many complaints about e-scooters had been received. People in Scotland should report all e-scooter incidents and hopefully get some action. The UK and Scottish parliaments should declare that these lethal machines will never be allowed on UK or Scottish roads, and especially on pavements.

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Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian

Logical response?

The French reckon that because we wanted to take back control of our borders, the migrant problem is ours. They claim their coastline is too long to enable constant policing of migrants from their beaches.

So, as another of my countrymen wrote recently, “neither will they be able to police the return onto their beaches”… bring back the landing craft, load them up then slip across in the dead of night and drop them off!

Stan Hogarth, Strathaven, South Lanarkshire

Tooth or dare

The widespread power cuts throughout Scotland, caused by Storm Arwen, are evidently gnawing at the very core of civilisation as we know it. I read of the poignant plight of a poor soul in Perthshire, deprived of power since last Friday, who reports that she is unable to clean her teeth because her electric toothbrush is flat, and that she has to drive around the countryside – no doubt avoiding snow, ice and fallen trees – in order to charge up her mobile phone.

It is sad to see the demise of the old craft skills, such as using a toothbrush in the more traditional “manual” mode, not unlike, er, a conventional toothbrush in the days of yore.

If that doesn’t wash, I would suggest that rather than plugging the phone in into the car socket she should try the toothbrush instead, so that life can return to some semblance of comfortable normality.

Andy Davey, Peebles

Fossil favours

People should be prepared for power cuts. Torches, preferably the LED type, should be kept ready along with a stock of longlife batteries. Camping gas lanterns provide illumination for hours. Spare butane/propane cylinders should be available, and spare mantles. Cooking can be done on small camping gas stoves. A propane cylinder connected to a gas heater gives a lot of warmth, with a CO2 detector as a precaution. In case the water supply fails, a few plastic sealed 5 litre bottles of spring water will fill the gap.

It is interesting to note that all these useful items depend on fossil fuels – plastics from oil, gas, steel which requires coking coal, and diesel machines to mine zinc and manganese (for the batteries). We depend on the products of oil, gas and coal in so many ways. "Keeping fossil fuels in the ground" is definitely not a good idea.

William Loneskie, Lauder, Berwickshire

Lifting spirits

Moving house allowed me to see that the current retiral age of 67 is ridiculous for some occupations and that for Westminster to consider shifting it up to 70 is barbarous. We had four men in our moving van, two under 40 and two about 60. As we were downsizing it was a reasonable load, but by afternoon only the two younger men were working and the older men were sitting having a cup of tea in the half-empty van. I was delighted to see the youngster’s caring attitude because I had noticed that their older colleagues looked very unwell and I was about to call a halt anyway. The thought of continual heavy lifting after 60 is simply not medically acceptable.

White collar workers such as doctors, lawyers, secretarial staff and taxi drivers are not physically challenged in the way warehouse workers, binmen, furniture movers and many others are and 67 is too old to be expected to carry heavy weights all day. Seventy is ridiculous. I can only assume the present UK government is trying to attract life-insurance companies as Tory donors.

Elizabeth Scott, Edinburgh

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Think Winston Churchill hated Scotland? Think again – Alastair Stewart

Going south

If the data provided by John R T Carson are correct on the bill for the Edinburgh tram extension, then it would appear that the total bill for the two phases of the project will be around £1.5 billion (Letters, 30 November). Add on the price to dual the A9 and A96, plus those for two bridges over the Forth, and it appears that Holyrood is a Parliament that refuses to recognise the existence of voters living in the South of Scotland.

Where is the equivalent cash to dual the A75, the A77 or complete the dualling of the A1 and why are SNP MSPs representing Dumfries & Galloway and the Scottish Borders refusing to insist that the region is given a fair allocation of capital projects?

Ian Moir, Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway

Pros and cons

In his defence of the reputation of Sir Winston Churchill, Alastair Stewart ended on a patronising note (Perspective, 30 November). I doubt if the Scottish public is likely to be overly impressed by a picture of the wartime leader in a Glengarry bonnet, albeit next to a founding member of the SNP. They were, of course, impressed by his timely oratory at a crucial stage of the Second World War. It went a long way to compensate for some his less favourable attitudes towards British workers in the first quarter of the 20th century.

As Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1925 he was responsible for the decision to return Britain to the Gold Standard. This had the effect of reducing the price of imported coal, encouraging the owners to reduce wages and costs in order to remain competitive. His attitude towards the General Strike and the lockout of the miners the following year did not endear him to coal mining communities in Scotland, and throughout the United Kingdom. Whether that translated itself into downright hatred of the man is a question for historians.

But there was certainly a lasting legacy of distrust which carried on well into the 1950s, when Churchill retired as a peacetime Prime Minister. Distaste for the man also lingered among sections of the Conservative party who never forgave him for crossing the floor of the House of Commons to the Liberal Party in 1904.

If I could climb into a time machine, I'd like to think that I would have recognised Churchill as the right person to lead in the perilous year of 1940 when Britain faced invasion. I'd also like to think that I would have done all I could to prevent him and his party getting a majority in the first post-war election. His military virtues were often subsumed by his attitude to social issues. In Scotland I doubt if that ever developed into hatred, but it certainly prompted a healthy scepticism about the statesman and his achievements.

Bob Taylor, Glenrothes, Fife

Opposite spin

George Rennie says that it is an "alternative fact" for Kate Forbes to say that 96 per cent of electricity two years ago was generated from renewable sources (Letters, 30 November). It isn't, it's a fact confirmed by a multitude of sources. and is actually a slight underestimate. Mr Rennie says that “in fact just over 50 per cent of Scotland's electricity demand is met by renewables”, which seems to understate the reality, which is estimated at 56 per cent of electricity consumed. Other sources are nuclear and fossil fuels at 30 per cent and 13 per cent respectively.

Where the confusion seems to arise (according to independent fact checking organisation Full Fact) is the difference as to what is generated and what is used here, because Scotland actually exports some of its generated energy. The figure quoted by Ms Forbes shows that renewables provided the equivalent of 96 per cent of Scotland's gross electricity consumption in 2020. This and the fact that Scotland leads the rest of the UK both in the generation and consumption of electricity from renewable sources is actually a positive and augurs well for the future in terms of climate change and decarbonisation issues. So clearly there is spin involved here, and no doubt Mr Rennie will prefer his alternative presentation of the facts.

Gill Turner, Edinburgh

Shining star

I would like to pay tribute to one of The Scotsman’s longest serving contributors, Alan Pickup. He has produced his excellent, informative and readable articles on astronomy for the lay person every month since the 1960s and continued to do so with The Sky in December in yesterday’s paper. His enthusiasm for the subject is boundless, and catching. He managed to link the forthcoming launch of the James Webb Space Telescope with Edinburgh. The telescope, which has a 6.5m diameter mirror, will have on board an Infra-Red measuring instrument with which the Astronomy Technology Centre in the Royal Observatory on Blackford Hill has been closely associated. Well done to them.

I was a technician at the observatory in the 1960s when Alan was a very young, very affable, up and coming scientist. It is heartening to hear of someone who has remained steadfast to their calling over so many years.

Vincent McCann, Edinburgh

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