Readers' Letters: Smoke alarm changes unfair to householders

Like many Scots, my home contains smoke detectors. We have two – one upstairs, one downstairs in the kitchen and two carbon monoxide detectors. All are tested regularly. Our insurer has never asked specifically about fire prevention in all the years we have been with them. When the kitchen one goes off, it can be heard all over the house.

Scotland-only changes to smoke alarm rules are unfair, says reader
Scotland-only changes to smoke alarm rules are unfair, says reader

The Scottish Government admit they will not be policing their new legislation. No one will be fined for failing to comply. Instead of this "stick” method of fire prevention invoking the law, might a “carrot” not be better? Start by offering reduced price fire alarms to everyone. There are millions of homes which have no system at all. Some years ago, alarms were fitted free to some council properties. The first few days they were bleeping away daily, triggered by toast, bacon etc. By the end of the first week a friend told me they had all gone silent. They were so annoying the majority had had their batteries removed. This attitude to having smoke detectors needs to be sorted for people to wish to use them.

Any buildings with dangerous cladding should be helped to get the integrated system fitted as soon as possible. Retirement flats could also get priority. But to expect the entire nation to spend upwards of £200 for a new system when they are protected by a perfectly suitable one is unfair and unlikely to be followed. Though we have a two-bedroom house, our ceilings are high. We would have to get an electrician to fit a new system, so we would be looking at a cost nearer £400.

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Surely local authorities could provide lists of firms that will install the alarms for a set price? Make it easy for those who wish to comply – and stop cowboys moving in.

But with fuel costs spiralling and the cost of living increasing, does the SNP really expect law-abiding citizens to buy into these smart alarms when they are satisfied with the system they already own?

SM Duthie, Edinburgh

A breed apart

You would think that, out of the 50 million or so adults in the UK, we could find a more suitable person to lead the country than Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.But of course, that discounts the anomaly in the British political system, indeed in all the higher echelons of British life, that the top dogs, with some honourable – or possibly dishonourable – exceptions, must come from a certain strata of society, almost certainly having attended an elite school, and preferably one of two universities.This is compounded by the fact that this clan generally associate almost exclusively with others of their sect, not to mention marrying and procreating within that same limited gene pool.It’s aye been thus, but never has the inadequacy of this system been so transparently revealed as in our current incumbents.Surely it is now clear to all that a more meritocratic system of government is desperately needed.

Les Mackay, Dundee

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'No delay' to law requiring Scottish homes to fit interlinked fire alarms

Be original

“In the name of God, go!”? In the name of God, come up with something original, David Davis!The last one who quoted Cromwell's speech to the Rump Parliament at a serving PM was a certain Dennis Skinner – and he was the one the electorate told to go come the next election instead.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Cummings’ goings

When you consider the current hoo-hah over Boris Johnson and his DIY cabinet, Dominic Cummings driving to Barnard Castle “to test his eyesight” doesn’t seem so bad after all…

Kathryn Sharp, Edinburgh

Bin the masks

Time for the masks to go, an airborne disease such as Covid-19, especially Omicron, has proven that the vast majority of different masks do not stop people catching Covid-19. The virus size is roughly 200 times smaller than a bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus, therefore it will move through the typical mask like a ping pong ball through a football goal net.

The unofficial trial carried out from July to the end of November 2021 in the UK, where England lifted all mask-wearing rules and Scotland retained the face covering regime, proved that masks made no difference as the rate of infection was broadly very similar.

If some people want to voluntarily wear masks as some sort of bizarre comfort blanket, then fine; however let the rest of us get back to 2019 normality. Time to bin the masks in Scotland.

John Smith, Falkirk

Red Tories

Bury South MP Christian Wakeford says defecting from the “Blue Tories” to the “Red Tories” was the hardest thing he has ever done. This is blather. He saw that his wafer-thin majority of 402 was about to disappear with Boris Johnson's Tory Titanic so he decided to abandon ship. He has voted against measures to tackle climate change, voted in favour of brutal Tory cuts to Universal Credit and voted against measures to tackle tax avoidance.

On the same day as Sir Keir Starmer was welcoming Wakeford his George Osborne in waiting, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves, was giving an interview to the Financial Times. She reassured the oligarchs that a new round of austerity will be brutally, vigorously and enthusiastically enforced by the Red Tories. Reeves is a former Bank of England economist.

In the interview Reeves even gloated about the membership of the Labour Party decreasing during her tenure. Falsely smearing those who had left as “anti-Semites”.

She also repeated there would be no reversal of Brexit, instead the Red Tories have now decided to endorse the fiction of “making Brexit work”, appealing to the same backward folksy Empire nostalgia of the Tories and Nigel Farage.

Labour has been trying to woo the ruling elite. Starmer whipped his MPs into abstaining on a bill that limits the amount the government spends on welfare payments. The Tories propose that benefits should go up by the rate of inflation last September. This is 3.1 per cent. However, as inflation is at either 6 or 7.1 per cent depending on the measure used then those at the bottom will have their living standards eviscerated.

It is abundantly clear that Starmer and Reeves represent the same dead-end neo-liberal centrist corporatism and neocon foreign policy of the Blair years. Within the Union Scotland has no future. Independence is the only sensible path.

Alan Hinnrichs, Dundee

Time to act

Just how culpable is Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak for what appears to be a serious rise in the cost of living (your report, 20 January)? It is possible to go even further than SNP shadow Chancellor Alison Thewliss with her emphasis on cuts to universal credit and the need for additional energy payments, a real living wage and child payments. The recent announcement by Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries on the two-year freeze to the BBC licence payment may have caused a smoke screen on the issue of pensioner incomes.

The decision by the previous Conservative government to pass the responsibility for the award of free television licences to the BBC itself has had an impact. Those not eligible for pension credit, whose incomes may be just above the threshold for receiving it, have in effect seen a reduction of just over £3/week in their income. The current annual cost of a licence is £159.

On top of that there have been the changes, hopefully only temporary, to the triple lock pension increase arrangements. Pensions may have risen by around 8 per cent this April had the triple lock still been in place. Instead they will rise by just over 3 per cent. This does break the link between pensions and price and wage increases, essential if the incomes of all the elderly are to be maintained at a civilised level. This is something Mr Sunak could act on.

Although the cost of energy is largely beyond his control, the matter of winter fuel payments certainly is. He has shown himself to be an interventionist, when necessary, during the pandemic giving assistance to all social groups. He ought to see the current bout of inflation as another reason for direct action.

This is not a time for close adherence to any economic doctrine; he should be resolute in his determination to protect the most vulnerable in a difficult period.

Bob Taylor, Glenrothes, Fife

Tide, come in

Pumped storage hydro, the answer to much of Scotland's electricity needs, is being neglected. There are a good number of these very large systems which are carbon neutral, can run all the time and can start up almost instantaneously. Many people seem unaware of the situation, perhaps because there seems to be a campaign to sideline/ignore/ suppress the existence of this green system.

Some of the large ones like Cruachan may only run for five minutes (!) in one day – to fill in gaps in supplies generated by nuclear, coal, oil, gas and ‘bio’mass. These should be put to active use all the time, and available to the people of Scotland, rather than people having to pay to go on the grid.

There are many smaller hydro schemes which have deliberately understated their capacity to get the subsidy for schemes producing less than a certain figure. These should work at their proper capacity all the time. There is also the possibility of getting much more water power with the small (two metre) “screws” – which do not affect fish – in rivers. This would be fine for local use.

Since we also have masses of tidal, off-shore and on-shore potential – the most wind and greatest tidal range in most of Europe – a proper energy strategy would be able to phase out all the other fossil fuels very quickly, and it would cost much less for customers, as well as the planet.

Susan FG Forde, Scotlandwell, Kinross-shire

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