Readers' Letters: Sort out roads before extending cycle routes
I am dismayed after reading Ian Swanson’s article telling us that Edinburgh City Council wishes to spend £118 million on another 52 miles of protected cycling routes (18 October).
The council has failed, even under emergency powers, to ensure current cycle lanes are free from potholes and blocked drains. As a cyclist, this makes them useless and, as winter approaches, a complete waste of road space. The Council needs to sort out the maintenance of all roads. More people travel by public transport than cycle so let us have roads buses can use without damage to suspension.
I find no comfort in the fact the Scottish Government is 80 per cent funding this scheme, because as a taxpayer my wallet is hit once more.
Michael G Cockburn, Blackhall, Edinburgh
An extra 52 miles of protected cycling routes for Edinburgh will be funded by taxpayers, thus subsidising the cyclist. Why? If cyclists can afford the cost of a bike, which ranges from £300 to infinity, plus all the gear, then they should contribute to their specialist facilities. Cyclists should be compelled to pay an annual fee, have insurance, a helmet, lights and importantly an identification number on a Hi-Viz jacket.
There have been numerous incidents in which cyclists have injured pedestrians but quickly rode off into the sunset. Rogue cyclists can cycle on the pavement, crash red lights, ignore pedestrian crossings, cycle four abreast, cycle at night without lights and ignore the Highway Code without fear of the short arm of the law. The police are out in plain clothes on bicycles catching motorists who do not give cyclists enough room when overtaking.
I have yet to hear of these plain clothes police on bicycles arresting and charging rogue cyclists.
Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian
An interesting editorial in the Scotsman on the problems with our NHS, which fits nicely with the excellent documentary on Channel 4 recently, ie, it had big problems long before Covid (19 October).
In a league table with our European neighbours, we are nearer the bottom than with the top, in so many areas. It would appear that our “wonderful" NHS, in the UK as a whole, is not so wonderful (I’m not forgetting that many who work there perform heroics to keep it going). Much seems to be down to a broken funding model, which politicians won't come clean about!
William Ballantine, Bo'ness, West Lothian
I do not know why The Scotsman gives publicity every year to the so-called traditional foam fight in St Salvator's Quadrangle, St Andrews (picture story, 19 October). This is a comparatively recent invention and has nothing to do with Raisin Monday. Raisin Monday was when a first year student gave his/her Senior Man/Woman a pound of raisins in thanks for their mentoring and in turn received a Raisin Receipt in Latin. This was a worthy St Andrews tradition, which the foam fight is not.
Also, we now have students stravaiging the streets of St Andrews all day on Sunday, disturbing the peace and urinating in public, and never is anything done about it. Hardly a credit to the University.
Colin McAllister, St Andrews, Fife
Bluff and bluster
We desperately need serious speeches and clear leadership, with analyses of the crisis now facing the UK. Detailed plans are required to deal effectively with the food, fuel and labour shortages. This crisis is not down to the pandemic, as the government and opposition claim, but is undoubtedly down to the disastrous Brexit deal and end of “freedom of movement”. Along with supply issues and rising energy prices there is now the prospect of a damning report on how the UK handled Covid.
However, all we hear from Boris Johnson is bluff and bluster, spin and jokes, along with the lie that all is well. Soundbites like “higher wages and lower taxes” only enhance the rich and powerful. Instead of telling Scotland it should not talk about independence, this government should not have dragged the UK out of Europe during the height of a global pandemic.
Grant Frazer, Newtonmore, Highland
The treatment of Professor Kathleen Stock by students and some staff at Sussex university, the no-platforming and disinviting of invited speakers to many of our universities and the so-called woke mob’s modus operandi in confronting the question of slavery and statues, and the eco-mob’s ravaging of any who dare to oppose them, suggests that many of our young people do not consider reason and rational debate as an appropriate tool for dealing with issues that seem important to them, or believe in democracy. For students in our universities it is clearly too late to imbibe the efficacy of reason and debate. These time-honoured tools should be an integral part of our educational system at a much earlier stage.
I suggest that every school should have a Debating Society and every pupil should should be given the tools to take part in that society. There should be inter-school debating contests, with a (possibly televised) national final. The winning team would be awarded medals and their school receive a cup. The annual competition could be financed by our most prestigious legal firms or financial companies.
Doug Clark, Currie, Edinburgh
Neil Barber of Edinburgh Secular Society expresses the view that religious believers are being dishonest if they do not confine themselves to arguments based on their God’s direct command when opposing the legalisation of “assisted dying” (Letters, 18 October). As a Christian I believe that God is sovereign over all of life and truth and it is right for us to us use arguments from all areas of knowledge such as history, science, medicine and personal experience. It is also right for us to join forces on this issue with those of other faiths and none who oppose legalisation of any kind of euthanasia.
I reject Mr Barber’s accusation that we “distort the debate by exaggerating fears about the abuse of law”. The phenomenon of incremental extension of the criteria qualifying for assisted dying is well documented in countries and states where it is legal.
In place of the authority of God, Mr Barber must appeal to personal autonomy and the authority of the individual, a precarious foundation for a social ethic. On this basis, if anyone for any reason that seems reasonable to them wants to end their lives and want help to do so, why should we stop them? It’s their life, after all. But most people still want to stop young people and those with depression choosing suicide because they know it’s right to try to stop them. So personal autonomy is limited by social convention, and by law in many cases. Legalising any form of euthanasia would put the lives of vulnerable people at risk, as well as pose moral problems for the medical and caring professions, which have always supported life and relieved suffering to the very end. As a doctor and wheelchair user with MS, I believe human dignity is best preserved by good palliate care.
(Rev Dr) Donald M MacDonald, Edinburgh
Going both ways
With absolutely no sense of self-awareness or irony, using phrases like "Nationalist apologists indulging in cat-fights, waging war on commentators who disagree with them in a puerile fashion", M Forbes complains about the standards of discourse in the Scottish parliament and in the letters pages of the Scotsman (Letters, 19 October).Thus we learn that supporters of the Union have a valid point of view and people who disagree with them are nasty apologists from some alien cult. Of course I'm biased (and I hope people of a different opinion have all finished their porridge by the time they read this) but my impression is that it's in the letters from those who believe in the Union that we are more likely to hear intemperate language. Witness the unreasonable outrage directed at columnist Joyce McMillan in the letter from Martin O'Gorman (same day).It is also with some surprise that we learn that in the Scottish Parliament, only the nationalists indulge in antagonistic behaviour, while all the representatives of the opposition parties are paragons of polite gentility. Well, at least it shows that the editors who compile the letters pages have a sense of humour.
Gill Turner, Edinburgh
Truth to power?
We learn that for the third year in a row, Scotland is the least happiest place to live in the UK. We should not be surprised to learn that many SNP politicians took to social media to advise us that this is because we are not an independent country.
It makes me so angry that these politicians can’t see or won’t acknowledge that it is within their power to make our lives better. They have powers, as the governing party of the last 14 years, to make an impact on the education system, the health service, our care system and drug deaths, to name but a few issues that are impacting on our lives.
One has to ask how long the electorate will continue to vote for SNP politicians who are content to take a hefty salary while not making our lives better, yet constantly pointing to the rainbow in the distance which can only be reached through independence. If they really believe that independence is the answer to every single problem that faces Scotland, then the narrow-mindedness shows they are not fit to be in office.
To misquote Eldridge Cleaver “If you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem”. I think it is clear that the unhappiness that Scotland is suffering is due to the governing party that is failing to make our lot better.
Jane Lax, Aberlour, Moray
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