Remember our medical pioneers

NOW that the first parts of Quartermile's redevelopment of the former Royal Infirmary site are nearing completion, it might be timely to inquire whether the developers plan to make any reference to the centuries-long tradition of medicine associated with this part of Edinburgh.

Are there any plans for public art to honour this famous tradition? A memorial garden?

Perhaps the naming of the new streets within the quarter might commemorate some of the great medical men and women of Edinburgh - eg Lister Square, Elsie Inglis Avenue or Young Simpson Street.

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Or are we to expect a bland 21st century approach that instead offers us a Quartermile Place?

RA Jamieson, Archibald Place, Edinburgh

Canopy can not be fair for the taxpayer

THE political decision to remove tolls from the Forth and Tay road bridges will require the partial demolition of the new high-tech toll plaza at the Forth Road Bridge, and it now seems certain that the Forth Estuary Transport Authority is planning to leave the controversial canopy in place after tolls cease. This decision disgusts me.

The entire project has been a scandal from start to finish. First of all, the fact that the FETA board decided to replace the toll plaza when the continued tolling of the bridge was under question cannot be overlooked. At the time of the contractor being appointed in October 2004, the toll orders were only due to run until March 2006. The then transport minister Tavish Scott decided to scrap tolls on the Erskine Bridge, but left them in place on Forth and Tay.

The new plaza was built around 50 metres further south from the position shown in FETA's original planning application, bringing the canopy close to houses in Stoneyflatts Crescent, and FETA had to apply for retrospective planning permission as a result, raising dozens of objections from local residents.

Conditions of this retrospective application being granted regarding use of lighting in the canopy roof and the planting of trees to screen the canopy have not been adhered to by the Authority. Residents have had to endure light pollution from the lighting in the canopy roof, noise from the use of a loudspeaker at the wide load lane, and an increase in traffic noise as vehicles pass through the structure, the underside of which is 16'6" above the road.

The original purpose of the canopy was to protect toll staff and equipment from the weather. Once tolls are scrapped, the structure ceases have to a purpose.

FETA has stated that to remove it will cost 200,000. However, the cost of the re-modelling as a whole is priced at around 2 million, and the annual cost to the taxpayer once tolls cease will be around 16m. Yet despite all our objections it seems that the decision has already been made by FETA for the sake of saving a couple of hundred thousand pounds, and the residents of South Queensferry will be left with an unwanted and unsightly monument to tolling and to FETA's incompetence.

Martin Gallagher, Stoneyflatts Crescent, South Queensferry

Any chance of a level playing field?

IF the Gould inquiry into the Scottish Elections deems "Alex Salmond for First Minister" misleading then it is no more so than the use of the "Scottish" prefix by the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat Parties as there are no such parties registered with the Electoral Commission.

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If only registered political party names can be used on the ballot box in future, then these parties will have to form and register separate Scottish parties and will be required to maintain and report on the proper source of their funding and other material electoral support from telephone call centres etc from outwith Scotland.

That might even result in a level playing field.

Calum Stewart, Montague Street, Edinburgh

Wrong to make lager cheap option

WITH regard to your recent articles about the drink culture in our society today I can only express my disgust that supposing responsible publicans are exploiting the non-drinkers amongst us more so than ever before.

My wife and I attended a bar in Broughton Street and I was astounded to find that a half pint of carbonated water (that is free to make through the soft drink dispenser) and lime was more expensive than a half pint of lager.

I appreciate they have costs to bear but a pricing policy like this sends out all the wrong signals to our young folk, who find it is now cheaper to drink lagers and beers rather than soft drinks when on a night out.

George Grant, Broughton Place, Edinburgh

Private rail finance goes off the rails

ALEX ORR must realise (Letters, October 20) that the Treasury is studiously averse to ring-fencing. Without it these sums can be directed down some black hole in the Prime Minister's choosing. Even named taxes go that way. The Road Fund Licence is absorbed into the Treasury. Of course, sums are so low they are insufficient to pay the costs of the road network.

If he thinks motorists are hard done by he should look at how the supposedly privatised railways are treated. They come off much worse. National Express Group (NEG) took over the ECML and have to pay a premium to the Treasury of 1.4 billion over seven years. GNER had ten years and gave way under the burden.

Meanwhile, the money is just pocketed by the Treasury; nothing is coming back to pay for upgrades. Instead, these have to come from fare increases - fares ought to be coming down to increase patronage.

Scotland since it gained its independence from the DfT has made some progress in enhancing the network. These are mostly in the Central Belt. North of that, the routes to Aberdeen, Inverness, and then Wick have been neglected for decades. The piecemeal improvements on offer are not enough.

David G Guild, Grange Road, Edinburgh

Ice cream humour is just wafer-thin

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AT a time when obesity is much in the public eye it is irresponsible in your feature about St Andrews (News, October 20) to suggest it might perhaps be fun to try all the 52 flavours of ice cream at Janettas in an eight-hour period.

This was perhaps a throwaway remark, but anyone with diabetes wouldn't find it funny.

Gordon Crandles, Albion Terrace, Edinburgh

Posties delivered important message

WITH the postal strikes we had management saying "apologies to our customers for the inconvenience caused to them".

So what is their excuse now they have announced the closure of 44 post offices? If that is not a permanent inconvenience what is?

Perhaps the posties had a point after all.

P Siosal, Salisbury Road, Edinburgh

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