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Never claimed to know bridge wasn’t ready

The Red Arrows fly past during the official opening of the Queensferry Crossing.
The Red Arrows fly past during the official opening of the Queensferry Crossing.

Sir, – Following the item on the Queensferry Crossing (“Tory councillor claims he knew ‘months ago’ that bridge was not ready to open”, The Courier December 6) I was contacted by a member of the public who feels strongly that I’ve impugned the reputation of the bridge builders.

While I don’t agree with much of what he says, I’d like to put a couple of things straight.

Contrary to the headline, I’ve never claimed to “know” that the bridge wasn’t ready.

I was repeatedly informed that it was so but I’m not in a position to investigate and verify such things, which is why I passed the information on. I’ve worked on enough large engineering projects to know that things don’t automatically come out right first time and that rectification work is almost inevitable.

No surprise there.

The point I was taking issue with was the PR side of the project, which is down to the Scottish Government.

The bridge was opened with much fanfare and the need for corrective work has been drip-fed to the public.

A bit more openness upfront would have done no harm.

Cllr Dave Dempsey.
7 Carlingnose Park,
North Queensferry.


Anxiety caused by cruel scam

Sir, – I am in my nineties and live on my own. Some months ago I was phoned late in the afternoon by someone reporting an accident to one of my family – no name given.

I thought this was a scam, but as time went on I was impelled to ring round my family.

When not one answered I began to worry. All at a hospital?

It was a scam, a cruel malignant, heartless scam. Then I was phoned twice about an “investigation into a car accident”. That scam again.

People living alone should put the phone down. It is a recorded message emitted from multiple London numbers. No genuine caller would omit their name and yours.

Flora Davidson.


Technology is the answer

Sir, – What is the surest way to raise the hackles of the more hard-headed elements of the Democratic Unionist Party?

It is to start insulting their intelligence and baffling their own supporters with gobbledygook like “regulatory alignment”(The Courier, December 5).

Experienced negotiators know that a genuine agreement can only be reached if it is couched in language everyone can understand. In the Brexit negotiations Theresa May seems to have fallen short on that and on other counts.

Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union which, at root, is a customs union with free trade within its member countries.

You cannot solve the problem of the land border between the Irish Republic by resorting to jargon. However, it can be solved by technology.

Are we really saying that, in the modern world, the technology does not exist to create a workable border which respects the political, economic and territorial integrity of both parts of the island post-Brexit?

The expertise is there to devise it and the only barrier is the tunnel vision of some politicians whose mindset is well in the past.

Bob Taylor.
24 Shiel Court,


Welcome block to bad scheme

Sir, – The Holyrood education committee is absolutely right to insist on further scrutiny of the guidance that will go with the controversial Named Person scheme legislation.

Parents across Scotland are rightly deeply suspicious of this unwarranted intrusion into the lives of all families in pursuit of supporting the small minority of children that are genuinely at risk.

The biggest problem with the Scottish Government’s blanket approach to this topic, is that hard-pressed professionals among the thousands of head teachers, health visitors, midwives and guidance teachers that will be forced to become named persons, will struggle to implement the law with consistency.

Some, concerned at failing in their new legal duties, will err on the side of caution and go too far as they interfere in the lives of perfectly normal families, but where these new “experts” judge there might be possible wellbeing issues.

The guidance documentation they will all be working to will be critical, and indeed should be written into the legislation itself.

The fact that as the law is written there is such scope for dubiety that an accompanying “handbook” is required, does not bode well for this latest version of the law avoiding another round of court challenges.

Clearly the SNP do not have the courage to admit they have got this badly wrong.

We must hope that it remains tied up in trying to overcome legal obstacles long enough that an eventual change of government will at last allow this ill-conceived idea to be dropped altogether.

Keith Howell.
White Moss,
West Linton.


Changing times and real fur

Sir, – I have in my possession a copy of a speech made by a founder member at Carmyllie WRI’s 50th birthday party.

She reports that the first meeting in the 1920s was a demonstration –how to cure rabbit skins to make fur-backed gloves and foot muffs.

How times have changed.

Nan Wishart.
3 Mossburn Place,


Steam trains were stronger

Sir, – It’s deeply disturbing that ScotRail cancelled all services on the far north and West Highland lines in advance of Storm Caroline.

The company has been making much recently of investment in new rolling stock and motive power but it seems that this has been misplaced.

In the days of steam haulage, such precautionary cancellations in advance of forecast weather never took place.

Instead of flimsy modern engineering that dare not be allowed out of the shed in the wrong sort of weather, ScotRail should be placing bulk orders for tried-and-tested steam locomotives like Flying Scotsman, for which blueprints are readily available.

John Eoin Douglas.
7 Spey Terrace,


Embraces only for Christmas

Sir, – Nicola Sturgeon exhibits good taste this year in commissioning the talented John Byrne as artist for her Christmas card, entitled Say It With A Kiss!

Unfortunately for most Scots, the nationalist leader’s positive sentiments don’t extend to her politics.

Ms Sturgeon, aware the Holyrood nationalist majority is at risk after the next Scottish parliamentary elections, has a small window in which to pursue another divisive referendum. The 2014 referendum tore Scotland apart.

Though the impact of our leaving the EU will not be clear for some years, Ms Sturgeon passionately wants to use Brexit to return us to that division and enmity.

It would seem, as far as Ms Sturgeon is concerned, warm embraces are just for Christmas, divisive nationalism is forever.

Martin Redfern.
1 Woodcroft Road,


Where is Nigel Farage now?

Sir, – I wonder how many of the people who voted to leave the EU have had a change of heart with the chaos we are now facing?

If they had listened to people like David Cameron and Gordon Brown, who said we were heading for a cliff-edge, things would have been different. Instead they listened to xenophobics like Nigel Farage, who is conspicuous by his absence. Why is he not coming forward with solutions to our present dilemma? He was the main protagonist who caused this mess.

Alister Rankin.
93 Whyterose Terrace,