SNP have to think again on transport

EDINBURGH Chamber of Commerce is deeply concerned about the SNP's proposals to scrap the Edinburgh tram proposals and, indeed, the Earl scheme.

If Edinburgh is to remain a competitive city and if the city centre is to be rejuvenated as a major shopping location, we need world-class transport infrastructure. We have, over years of planning and design settled on a tram system approved in parliament, with Royal Assent as a solution, part of an integrated transport system, to keep our city moving and reduce congestion on our roads. This congestion is not just about cars, but also about Britain's most successful bus service, but which itself is insufficient to cope with burgeoning demand.

The Edinburgh business community has very carefully considered the proposals and the Chamber endorsed the tram proposals on the proviso that a business compensation scheme was established and that there would be a programme to promote the city as open for business. With the compensation scheme in place, parliamentary and council scrutiny completed, and funds committed, it is in nobody's interests that the scheme is now shelved, particularly when no realistic alternatives are on the table.

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The SNP have an opportunity to demonstrate that they listen to the views of the business community and therefore I would urge them to think again.

Ross Laird, chairman, transport committee, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce

Have they got their eyes on our buses?

IT really concerns me that the SNP intends to scrap the Edinburgh tram project. This is surely a backward step for Edinburgh and Scotland.

The provision of public transport for an ever-increasing usage needs to be addressed before the city grinds to a halt. The tram project is a very good way forward as increasing buses on the roads will add to the road congestion, making journeys even longer, and causing even more pollution.

I expected the SNP to take this stance after they took half a million pounds from a man who owns a bus company, and I really have concerns as to what will happen to the bus industry in Edinburgh. What plans do the SNP have for Lothian Buses? I believe this company provides an excellent service for Edinburgh and the surrounding area.

What else do the SNP have up their sleeves with the collaboration with this man? The re-introduction of Section 28?

Anthony Stamp, White Park, Edinburgh

Savings could go on improved services

THE Edinburgh tram was voted through Holyrood on the handful of votes necessary for a majority on a bare parliamentary quorum. The Scottish Executive have not yet agreed to the business case which is so bad as to be unacceptable.

The proposed single tram route, with no loop along the Waterfront where the potential customer base is non-existent, would end up costing 1 billion, result in years of construction and congestion chaos, wreck the city-centre retail sector and result in the gridlock which Manchester now regularly experiences.

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Trams are a Victorian concept which only work in the absence of motorised traffic, which is why they were done away with in the 1950s

Off-street running would work. Rather than adding a tram route to the existing 20 bus routes at present using Princes St and the existing 12 bus routes using Leith Walk, the tram could be routed on existing rail tracks and preserved rail routes from Haymarket to Waverley, Abbeyhill, Easter Road, Leith Walk, Powderhall and Newhaven Road stations towards the north-east of the city centre.

However, the public in general, as consistently proved by your correspondence columns, are against the expensive, misguided tram project as presently proposed.

The SNP would put the money saved by scrapping the tram (and Earl) into improving the frequency and capacity of the rail network into Edinburgh, as well as re-opening the South Suburban Route, thus obviating the financial and congestion-creating nightmare of another Forth Road Crossing.

Alan W Welsh, Darnaway Street, Edinburgh

Old system was too much for some

I REFER to the fiasco during and after the elections of last week.

Had those in charge sought advice from those at the sharp end i.e. those working in the polling places, they would have known to expect such chaos.

I worked for many a decade as No 1 Presiding Officer and was involved in the confusion that the "old" system produced. I have had ballot papers thrown back at me because . . . "they have a Tory on it an' ah want a Labour yin". Someone complained that the string on the pencil was too short; she was trying to put her cross on an information sheet inside the booth. On explaining to a person how to vote I was asked what a cross was; I said put a kiss against the one you fancy. Some people seemed to be on "medication" and I often felt that they were not sure what planet they were on let alone knew who to vote for. I have been threatened, had dogs set upon me and had dogs leave a "message" in the middle of the floor.

Surely confusion had to be expected in trying a new and more complicated system.

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I suppose all we can now look forward to are the demands for them to do something about it but I am certain that no-one will produce an easier method.

G Imrie Davidson, Piersfield Grove, Edinburgh

Labour rose wilts in poll aftermath

I AM surprised that some of the Labour MSPs are incapable of accepting defeat in a dignified manner. The bitterness we have seen in recent days is unbelievable.

If I were a member of the Labour Party I would be ashamed. Unless the Labour MSPs can manage to sweeten up I would suggest they change their party symbol from a rose to a lemon - it would be more appropriate.

Sue Swain, Tyme Cottage, Innerwick, Dunbar

Lib Dems right to stick to their guns

I FIND it incredible that the Liberal Democrats are being blamed for the SNP's inability to win majority support.

The Tories and Labour don't want a coalition with the Nationalists either, but no-one expects them to. Why should the Lib Dems be any different?

Just because the Lib Dems and the SNP concur on local income tax doesn't mean they are natural coalition partners - surely their disagreement over whether Scotland should remain part of the UK is a considerable stumbling block?

The Liberals are right to stick to their guns: it's what they campaigned on and a majority of people in Scotland voted against separation parties. The SNP should drop their demands for an independence referendum if they really want a coalition, or take their chances in minority government.

P Jones, St Vincent Street, Edinburgh

Breaking silence on anti-noise work

IN your article "Demand for more action to cut airport noise" (Evening News, May 10), it was suggested that the 2000 fine which Edinburgh Airport can impose on aircraft that break the UK Government's stated noise thresholds is "not much more than a slap on the wrist".

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The truth is that Edinburgh Airport's voluntary decision last year to introduce a system of noise fines as well as our decision this year to double those fines, has had a real positive impact.

In the 12 months that preceded the introduction of noise fines, we found that 30 aircraft broke the stated noise thresholds. In the 12 months since the introduction of noise fines, that number had fallen to four aircraft, a decrease of 87 per cent. All the money raised from the fines was placed in Edinburgh Airport's community fund, which invests in local projects and good causes.

So long as people want to fly from Edinburgh Airport, there will be noise from aircraft. However, we are working hard to try and reduce the number of flights that cause excessive and unnecessary noise. The evidence suggests that work is paying off.

Kevin Lang, public affairs manager, Edinburgh Airport