Readers' Letters: Small business owners need help too

I am a guest house owner on Minto Street who writes to you in the hope you can provide some reassurance that small business owners such as myself will not be left behind in the economic relief being provided due to the pandemic.
Curtailed tourism is hitting capital businesses hardCurtailed tourism is hitting capital businesses hard
Curtailed tourism is hitting capital businesses hard

Since the implementation of the tiers on October 9, Edinburgh has been under restrictions limiting travel in and out of the health board area. This has effectively meant that we have been forced to close as there is no possibility of people travelling to the city and requiring accommodation. In fact, even when restrictions were eased over the summer last year guest house owners such as myself who normally live in close proximity and share common areas with guests have been forced to choose between the safety of our families, including those who are vulnerable, and the survival of our business.

It is a dilemma being repeated on a national scale, with economic and health concerns vying for priority – however, where others are receiving significant financial support allowing them to continue to pay their bills and keep safe, we are being unsupported despite being longstanding, significant tax payers. We were initially refused any support, with our application for the business closure fund receiving a reply saying guest houses are not eligible, but on appeal recently received £2,000. We remain ineligible for the strategic framework business fund which is available to larger hotels as a top-up grant due to being a small business. However, where larger hotels have been able to furlough their staff, families like my own who run businesses together are uniquely vulnerable.

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We continue to have to pay many of the overheads associated with the business, including the significant tax bills associated with our pre-pandemic income, and the costs of upkeep of a large building which still has to be heated and maintained. Even as restrictions are eased, we will face tough choices between keeping our home a safe place for vulnerable members of our family or having an income. This is a problem not faced by the larger businesses; nonetheless we have been excluded from the Scottish Government’s support in blatant favour of large hotels. This leaves us with an income which cannot provide basic essentials.

My question is – why has the Scottish government chosen to discriminate against B&Bs and guest houses in this way, and what actions are being taken to ensure families such as mine can afford to enjoy the safety in our home that other citizens are being offered?

M Yamin, Minto Guest House, Minto Street, Edinburgh

Land of promise

Conservatives keep saying how much better it is for Scotland to stay in the Union , what a pity they didn't follow their own advice and stay with the European Union – the same argument applies.

Once Scotland was independent you would have everyone clambering at the door to come here, many English companies would move their business here to cope with Brexit. Many Remainers would also move and diplomatic missions from all over the world would want offices here. It would be a boom country.

John Walker, Saughton Gardens, Edinburgh

Cunning plan

I’ve always been of the opinion that Scotland will one day become independent, not through choice but because of the animosity shown towards our neighbours. Perhaps an SNP plan?

Already we are seeing a groundswell of opinion against what they perceive as an anti-English agenda. Rather than contest the upcoming elections on local issues, Nicola Sturgeon has decided to use it as a platform for independence. But there is an answer. It’s time for the parties to set allegiances aside and work together.

For example, each opposition party choose five seats that they would have won in 2016 if fighting it uncontested. It only takes a cursory look at the results to see many examples. That means each party increases their representation, the SNP lose their majority, and no talk of Indyref 2. But will they?Lewis Finnie, Newbattle Terrace, Edinburgh

Go on, then!

Let my People Go" The last person who said this committed his people to 40 years in the wilderness, and that's what will happen to Scotland if Nicola Sturgeon gets her way.Let’s cut to the chase and follow her lead. Let’s forget about a referendum. Secede from the UK Union now. Apply to join the EU. and see their reaction to considering a new member with a 7 per cent deficit in their budget. Adopt the Euro and build a land border with England. Bring back all Sturgeon’s puppets from Westminster and give Rees-Mogg a break from their incessant moaning.

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Sturgeon may believe the polls on her call for independence, but there is a strong silent majority in Scotland who would slap her ambitions down.

Don Campbell-Thomson, PO Box 13, Mersin 10, Turkey

Job for Joanna

Our First Minister’s grasp of the vaccine roll-out programme in Scotland demonstrates poor situational awareness. Her rose-tinted view from the TV studio jars with reality on the ground. Nicola Sturgeon needs to visit the engine room and see why the distribution cogs are turning so slowly.The promised mass vaccination centres are operationally late and running well below capacity. The GP surgeries are inexplicably being starved of supply. As in the early days of the pandemic, the management figures are missing and/or misleading. Her centralised command and control mentality has stripped local authorities of their creativity. The NHS 9-5, Monday-Friday culture is in conflict with the needs of this emergency. Scottish NHS procurement practices and systems are inflexible and outdated.No amount of spin from Nicola’s well-oiled media machine can disguise the fact that our government isn’t responding quickly enough to her orders. The whole system is dysfunctional, marching to an internal cadence of… go go slow. If only her army of special advisers could be trained to inject as quickly as they can tweet, we’d be leading rather than chasing this pandemic.How do we get out of this mess? Build new agile systems using military/private sector experience, run them in parallel then decommission the old rot. This technique worked for the banks and is being used by the English NHS. Who would lead this crucial public sector reboot? Someone on the outside with an understanding of the need to put both people and function before process; the SNP rebel Joanna Cherry MP sounds perfect for this key job.

Calum Miller, Polwarth Terrace, Prestonpans

A better light

AP Godfrey (Letters, February 2) seems to have fallen for the UK Government’s spin over Covid jags, as in England they have not completed their care home programme on time but merely sent out letters.

On January 13, NHS England advised that all care home residents and staff would receive their first jag by January 24 “at the latest”. At the weekend several leading care home operators in England complained that only around a half of residents had been vaccinated due to a shortage of supplies.

England also experienced the same problems over Sunday vaccinations, as the UK administered 492,000 doses on Saturday 23 January but managed only around half as many the following day.

Extrapolating from the Scottish data that the UK government tried to supress, the UK may be administering vaccines at around half the pace it receives supply yet the same UK government and the Unionist parties are spinning and politicising the vaccine roll out in Scotland.

This, of course, has been taken up by the media, including the BBC, yet they steadfastly refuse to publish the comparable number of cases and mortality rates in the four home nations as this shows Scotland in a much better light thanks to the tireless efforts of our NHS staff and Nicola Sturgeon’s clear leadership.

Mary Thomas, Watson Crescent, Edinburgh

Flawed outrage

David Millar (Letters, February 2) praises Brian Monteith and says "If anyone needs confirmation of the morals of the SNP they need look no further than yesterday's article by Brian Monteith ("Sturgeon's silence in EU border gaffe speaks volumes"). He goes on: "...but the Scottish Government's refusal to speak up regarding the Irish border and the potential risk to receiving vaccines really is toxic".This is a nice line in outrage, but, unfortunately, it has two little flaws. Firstly, there was no threat to our vaccines, which are not coming through Northern Ireland. Secondly, and to use a euphemism, Mr Monteith's article was based on an entirely false premise which was even exposed in the virulently anti-independence Express. The fact is that Michael Russell, supported by Nicola Sturgeon, made it absolutely clear to the EU that their plan was totally unacceptable. Needless to say, our super efficient Scottish Conservatives, running like the coo's tail, jumped on the SNP "failure" hours after the EU had been made aware of Scotland's position along with that of the UK and both parts of Ireland, and the EU had reversed its decision.Gill Turner, Derby Street, Edinburgh

Choice Cherry

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With reference to yesterday’s report in the Scotsman about texts in the Scots Parliamentary inquiry (“MSPs set to scrutinise ‘devastating’ texts in Alex Salmond probe”), I thought it was Nicola Sturgeon who was doing the “Cherry-picking”!David Elder, Kennedy Court, Haddington

Moving services

St. Monans church is not “in Anstruther, Fife” (“Lifeboat called out to rescue boy stranded on rock by rising tide”, February 2), it’s in St Monans. The clue’s in the name! St. Monans and Anstruther are about three miles apart.

Harry D Watson, Braehead Grove, Edinburgh

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