Sir, – So the SNP administration wants to continue free Covid testing beyond April 1 when it ceases in England.
Fair enough, that’s its prerogative but, with health fully devolved, it’s up to Nicola Sturgeon to determine how to organise and pay for it.
The British taxpayer can’t be expected to fund fully each and every public service Sturgeon chooses to offer as a free universal benefit.
Let’s remember Scotland has already received an additional £6.5 billion in Covid funding from the UK.
Like any family or business budgeting, choices have to be made – you spend on X which means you can’t buy Y, unless your income increases.
If Sturgeon believes free testing is imperative, no problem, she must make cuts in other areas or, once again, increase taxes.
But perhaps, with elections looming, she considers whining about Westminster a more fruitful option?
Martin Redfern. Melrose, Roxburghshire.
‘Project fear’ has no place in debate
Sir, – As Covid, at last, appears to be abating, we find Scottish politics turning to talk of independence and referendums.
Commentators and politicians once more will attempt to persuade voters that theirs is the logical and only way to go.
But already we are seeing dubious arguments being presented as facts.
Sadly, Unionists already appear to be representing their case by the resurrection of the project fear campaign last seen in the Scottish referendum in 2014 – a campaign of totally negative propaganda aimed at frightening and intimidating voters.
It is my hope that voters this time around can expect a debate worthy of the importance of the decision that lies before them.
Untruths (which is the new way of saying lies) and false “facts” should have no place in this debate.
William Golden, Castle Street, Forfar.
Hunting success not down to ethics
Sir, – I have every sympathy for Karen Inkster, who wrote to The Courier recently about the distress caused to her horse by gunshots from game-shooters going off near her property near Dunkeld.
She was leading her horse along the main estate road, a right-of-way, when a gunshot went off close to where she was, followed by two further gunshots. Her horse bolted while she lay on the ground.
She discovered that there was no law against shooting that close to her home, so contacting the police was fruitless.
Shooting parties are allowed free range, despite the trauma caused to humans and their animals.
It’s doubtful whether they have any sympathy for the latter, since shooters have taken their right to shoot ground game for granted since the 16th Century and flying game since the 17th Century.
Gamekeepers have long been known to poison birds of prey to prevent them killing and eating birds destined for the gun.
Humans are top predators, but their success is not always achieved by adhering to ethical standards.
Carolyn Taylor, Gagiebank, Wellbank.
Ideas needed on reform of Union
Sir, – It is interesting to me that Victor Clements in his letter in The Courier on February 24, and indeed several arguments from those on the nationalist side, focus on pensions when in the history class at Waid Academy, Anstruther, the pupil that convinced me about Scottish independence did not mention pensions or indeed economics.
Her argument– her father was a minister in Elie and mother an English teacher at Waid Academy – was based on comparison.
In essence, if countries like New Zealand, Norway, Belgium and the like can function perfectly well as independent countries then Scotland, with a similar and in some cases smaller population size, can do likewise.
The question then becomes should Scotland become an independent country, not whether it can be an independent country, given Norway, New Zealand, Malta and Iceland with smaller populations than Scotland function perfectly well?
That is a different question and the prime minister seems a rather unusual ally for the first minister in that regard as many people, in fact most of my customers, regard him as a complete buffoon who is completely failing to provide the leadership that the country needs during a pandemic, in sharp contrast to that of the first minister who earns the respect of many who do not agree with her politics for her leadership during this pandemic.
That is where folk like MP Wendy Chamberlain, MSP Willie Rennie and others on the pro-union side such as Gordon Brown should come in with any plans they have to reform the current union.
Is federalism the answer? Should the House of Lords be abolished or can it be reformed in any meaningful way?
Should the prime minister be elected by the Parliament after the election rather than decided on by backbench Conservative MPs or members of the Conservative and Unionist Party?
Should FPTP be replaced by the single transferable vote in all UK elections?
Peter Ovenstone, Orchard Grove, Peterhead.
New development will have serious effect on residents
Sir, – In August 2021 Fife Council agreed that the principle of “exceptional circumstances” would apply to the Cupar North Development in order to enable the development to proceed.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) advises noise levels in gardens should not exceed 50Db “in order to protect the majority of people from being moderately annoyed during daytime”. The exceptional circumstances status allows a level of up to 55Db in gardens – a clearly noticeable increase.
According to the WHO this level of outdoor noise can cause serious annoyance.
Existing residents bordering the proposed development, who have previously enjoyed the quiet countryside to the rear of their properties, will in future be subjected to unwanted noise from this major development and its adjoining relief road.
The new homes nearest the relief road will be the biggest recipients of noise and air pollution and according to the environmental impact assessment report, will have to keep windows closed and possibly use mechanical ventilation.
Fife Council has rubbed salt into the wounds of the existing residents by increasing the permitted amount of unwanted noise.
This overdevelopment on arable land will have a major, adverse and permanent effect on the nearest existing residents and the town’s already limited amenities, as well as failing completely to reinforce the character and identity of Cupar.
Moira Lindsay, Kirklands Park, Cupar.
Public has a right to know all Covid data
Sir, – I notice, as of February 16, Public Health Scotland “will no longer report Covid-19 cases, hospitalisations and deaths by vaccination status”, claiming data has been inappropriately used and misinterpreted. Ensuring there is no consistency in data presentation is grossly irresponsible and I can only suspect it is political inconvenience that lies behind this change.
If statistics show the majority of cases, hospitalisations and deaths have received a treatment that is supposed to mitigate each, which it does across the world, that is information by which to evaluate the claims for and effect of that treatment and provide the required informed consent before it may be administered.
It may be inconvenient for our hapless politicians and their completely pointless vaccine passports, but it is information the public is entitled to have access to and Public Health Scotland must continue to provide it.
Hamish Hossick, Strathern Road, Broughty Ferry.
Measures cut better late than not at all
Sir, – Good news that the SNP administration is finally dropping more (but not all) Covid measures. Better late than never.
No doubt there will be denigrators of this. Well, they can stay at home and let the rest of us carry on with our lives. They can wear two face coverings so there will still be two layers of cloth between our respiratory systems and theirs.
Geoff Moore, Braeface Park, Alness.
Council is right over path access action
Sir, – Paths that have been used by the public without problem for decades cannot simply be closed off by those who purchase the land over which the path passes.
When such closures happen, it is natural for local path users to complain and it is quite right for councils to respond by taking decisive action.
In the present case, Angus Council responded to public complaints by launching a survey of residents, then requesting the owners reopen the path and finally pressing ahead with formal enforcement.
Councils who respond like this ought to be commended for acting in support of the public good. They are also due praise for refusing to be swayed by arguments that path closures are necessary for spurious reasons, such as to protect public safety or to stop dog fouling, when no evidence exists to support such claims. Throughout our towns and villages, people of all sorts – schoolchildren, recreational walkers, joggers, dog walkers, and others – benefit greatly from access to long-established paths.
These paths are often simple, undeveloped tracks, yet they provide crucial links. The utility of such paths is shown by their popularity – they often have been walked by several generations of citizens.
Purchasers of property cannot with impunity simply decide to close off these paths.
This is the clear message correctly being sent out by Angus Council in taking formal enforcement action to ensure a popular local path in Monifieth is reopened.
Dr Kevin Smith, Wemyss Crescent, Monifieth.
‘Incompetent’ PM wrong on isolation
Sir, – Telling people they do not have to self-isolate if they find out they have Covid is nothing short of idiotic.
Just another gaffe from our incompetent prime minister.
Alister Rankin, Whyterose Terrace, Methil.
End justifies means over CO2 emissions
Sir, – The point about nuclear power is being missed.
If the end of the world is nigh because of CO2, the cost of anything – nuclear included – is irrelevant, if it gives us energy and saves us without emitting CO2.
The fact that the Greens will not have it suggests they don’t actually believe the end of the world is nigh and are being alarmist for their own purpose.
Any nuclear issue – real or imagined – could be dealt with in the luxury of time, once the world is saved.
Problem-solving is clearly not a Green skill.
Malcolm Parkin, Kinnesswood, Kinross.