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We must recognise value of free speech

Jenny Hjul.
Jenny Hjul.

Sir, – May I also give your columnist Jenny Hjul support for her contributions to our democracy and your newspaper as I am not sold on SNP propaganda.

Jim Robertson’s comment, “give Miss Hjul her jotters,” is typical of the intolerance displayed by the SNP and its supporters.

One example was the angry mob that surrounded the BBC offices in Glasgow during the referendum demanding the sacking of two of their journalists who refused to sing from the SNP hymn sheet. This was greeted by the SNP leadership as “joyous”. I don’t think so.

The SNP government and its supporters have yet to learn that criticism is healthy. Accepting criticism, and acting on it, leads to growth of any organisation.

They should also accept that freedom of speech is the most important aspect of any democracy.

Democracy and freedom of speech are our greatest legacy. Suppress it and we all know where it ends: dictatorship.

David Balfour.
135 Strathearn Road,
Broughty Ferry.


Use lights cash to help needy

Sir, – You reported last Thursday that Perth’s £12 million “controversial City of Light project drew support from members of the enterprise and infrastructure committee”.

The stupidity of elements of Perth and Kinross Council is breathtaking. Your political editor, Kieran Andrews, rightly lamented elsewhere in Thursday’s Courier that “local services, which help the most vulnerable, are being cut”.

Perth and Kinross Council seems to like to invent numbers to justify rash spending, for example, how the Christmas lights switch-on brought millions of pounds into the Perth economy.

Let me for a moment take a leaf out of their book of fantasy to illustrate just what this daft scheme means.

Perth has a population of around 40,000 and let us say 10% (4,000) fall into the category of “most vulnerable”.

If the council is to contribute £8m to this lighting scheme (assuming the private sector can be persuaded to cough up £4m) then this £8m represents £2,000 for every person in the “most vulnerable” category.

That could do a lot for supporting the needy. Shame on you councillors.

I was heartened, however, that Councillors Willie Robertson and Alan Livingstone were “unconvinced” by the scheme which is highly unlikely to help bring prosperity to Perth.

Mike Cowie.
123 Glasgow Road,


Finance crisis created by SNP

Sir, – Julie Ford, SNP councillor for Glenrothes, has complained about the care package that is in place for her 89-year-old grandad. She was not happy that he had as many as 14 carers in 14 days.

Is she saying that carers should work 12 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year?

As seems to be the norm for SNP local and national politicians, they lay the blame at someone else’s door. Ms Ford stated that a decade ago, the same home carer would visit in the morning and afternoon.

Strangely, a decade ago, I could get an appointment with my GP within an hour of phoning. But that was before the SNP came to power at Holyrood.

Instead of blaming others, Ms Ford should ask why the SNP waived £425 million of poll tax arrears and why the then Finance Secretary threatened to cut both the health and education budgets if Fife Council raised the council tax by a mere £7 a month.

With the merging of health and social care budgets, more serious problems will follow.

Ms Ford should also lay some of the blame at the feet of politicians who proudly proclaimed they did not pay the poll tax as a matter of principle, thereby stealing from the public purse but still making use of public services to which they were not entitled.

EL Hunter.
Main Street,


Confusion over fracking

Sir, – SNP MP Mhairi Black’s contention that the UK Government could overrule Holyrood and impose fracking on Scotland is errant nonsense. So why did she say it?

The Scottish Parliament has long since had full responsibility for regulations impacting on the environment and planning.

Controls over the licensing of onshore oil and gas development are fully devolved to Holyrood.

Nicola Sturgeon regularly reminds us the current moratorium on fracking is at her behest.

Surely all this is something of which Ms Black was aware?

Let’s assume Ms Black realises which legislative areas are devolved and which are reserved. So is this another example of the SNP gratuitously blaming the UK Government? Or does it herald some convoluted change of tactic by the SNP?

Ms Sturgeon is fond of populist anti-fracking rhetoric but needs tax revenues from fracking if she is ever going to put together an even half-credible financial case for separation.

Ms Black is known for her negligible input in the House of Commons: she has spoken in only 12 debates in the last year.

Based on her contribution to the fracking debate, perhaps that’s for the best?

Martin Redfern.
4 Royal Circus,


Road rage at Waterfront

Sir, – One hopes that the campaign to reinstate a permanent version of the Royal Arch in Dundee will gather pace. But where to build it? I know. Put it in the middle of that new green space down by the V&A. You know, that one you reach by crossing three busy roads.

Don’t stumble over any infants who have been run over in your haste to see our latest tourist attractions.

Combat diesel fumes by wearing surgical masks and, if you feel particularly grubby, double back to the Olympia leisure and swimming centre.

That is the small building tucked behind the gigantic and hideous, steel-framed car park.

There are many more roads to cross but you will have gained invaluable experience if you managed to reach the V&A.

Bob Colston.
16 The Avenue,
Castle Huntly.


UK can thrive outside EU

Sir, – I shall vote leave because the EU’s own accounts have never been signed off for the past two decades and because the EU has become a facilitator for multinationals putting profits before people, exemplified by TTIP.

Another reason is the huge salaries and expenses paid to its apparatchiks.

I am voting leave because the EU’s half-million pages of laws are costing British industry and commerce more than £30 billion a year.

I will vote leave because the EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee is laying the foundation for a European Tax Authority by creating a European Taxpayer Identification Number for every citizen.

I shall be voting to leave this failing empire because, free of its directives emanating from an unelected ruling elite out of touch with ordinary people, Britain will emerge as a stronger country economically.

Voters should remember that the pessimistic economic predictions of doom by the spokesmen for the rich and powerful on what misery would befall us if we did not join the euro are the same predictions they are making now.

What happened then? Outside the eurozone Britain prospered using its own currency. Inside the eurozone, the economic slump continues.

William Loneskie.
9 Justice Park,


Use city hall for catering

Sir, – I refer to the letter by Gwilym Gibbons of Horsecross Arts (June 2) and am sure that the in-house catering department of Perth Concert Hall is providing an excellent service for conferences in the limited space available.

The point I was attempting to make is the concert hall can seat up to 1,200 visitors but does not have space to provide a sit-down lunch or dinner for this number at the same time.

I have attended travel congresses around the world in the past 40 years.

Every venue has provided a seated lunch for the delegates under the same roof, or within nearby walking distance.

The old city hall could have been used for this ever since Perth Concert Hall opened in 2005 and this would have allowed Perth to attract larger events and more income.

I know what is involved, having organised conferences for up to 1,500 delegates throughout the UK and Ireland.

Robert Valentine.
3 Burnbank,
Bridge of Earn.

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