Sir, – Correspondent Gina Logan is right to flag up the serious problem of local opinion being ridden over roughshod (Courier Letters, December 1), but she should identify the real culprit.
Decades ago Michael Forsyth issued a Standard Circular regarding planning matters ruling that the presumption would be in favour of the developer.
The circular has never been rescinded thoroughly.
The upshot is that local plans became irrelevant and councils now often pass plans they do not want because they cannot afford the legal bills which would result from their losing an appeal to the Scottish Government.
The coalition at Holyrood followed new Labour (also known as “Tory-Lite”) policies and did nothing; then we saw the craven way the SNP coddled Trump in the early days.
Surely the SNP Government at Holyrood should have learned a lesson from this and given local authorities more genuine powers back.
This would have allowed them to pay heed to community councils, the lack of which Ms Logan bemoans.
The SNP (and their so-called Green fellow travellers) do not care about local people or businesses: they are determined to concrete over our country and increase our population even further beyond what we can sustain – so naturally they will want to keep forcing “development” on communities who do not want it for themselves or for anyone else.
A C Grant.
Plan borders on the criminal
Sir, – As some of your readers might be aware, the Scottish Government is currently proposing to up the legal age of criminal responsibility in Scotland from eight to 12 years of age.
To me, this seems a fair and sensible proposal but I was disturbed to hear Bruce Adamson, the children’s commissioner, thinks that 16 would be a more appropriate age before youngsters were held to account for their crimes.
Surely this would just be a licence for louts to act with impunity and to continue breaking into houses, carrying knives with intent to use, and – on the “petty” scale – continue smoking strong weed, smashing car wing mirrors and running coins along the paintwork knowing nothing will happen to them, even if they are caught.
Mr Adamson might as well write to every school pupil to say, “do what you like, you are untouchable”.
Mr Adamson claimed that his department based their views on the analysis of reliable statistics. However, when social workers turn a blind eye to juvenile crime, when teachers are encouraged by their superiors not to report offences as it reflects badly on the school, and when our under-resourced police are reluctant to take action due to paperwork mountains that lead nowhere, how can Mr Adamson claim he is in possession of all the facts?
Should Mr Adamson’s wish ever materialise, does that mean that – God forbid – if we in Scotland have a “James Bulger” crime committed by two 15-year olds then the culprits can walk free because the poor young things didn’t know what they were doing, and it’s really society’s fault for not giving them attention and affection?
Only last week in County Durham, a mob of more than 100 youths – some of them as young as 12 – attacked police with bricks and fireworks.
Would Mr Adamson dismiss this as kids being kids, and who can blame them for getting up to high jinks?
I do think Mr Adamson has a very good point when he blames a lack of parental skills for how some youngsters behave.
However, this is no revelation.
I know Mr Adamson probably means well, but I suspect he’s splendidly isolated in his executive office.
Mr Adamson and his woolly-minded liberal friends won’t agree, but it’s time we got real, and it’s time we got tough on youth crime.
For the sake of including the good kids who want to learn, empower teachers to exclude the louts for good.
And give the police the manpower to chase up every youth crime… and every parent who refuses to take responsibility for their child’s behaviour.
Anything less is a cop out.
Case study highlights issue
Sir, – This week The Courier carried a story of fire crews having to be escorted by police when attending deliberately set fires in some areas of Levenmouth (“Fire crews on call come under attack”, Courier, December 3).
The article tells of mindless abuse, intimidation and stone throwing.
On the same page a Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP is calling for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised to 16 to “protect our children”.
Might I suggest he gets some practical experience in the behaviour of some of our “children” before voicing an opinion from the comfort of his office.
54 Cloanden Place,
Time to ditch HMS Brexit
Sir, – Whether you voted for Brexit or not, one thing has been made very clear from the whole Brexit shambles that has unfolded.
Quite simply Scotland is not getting the equal partnership inside the UK we were promised by Westminster when they were begging us to stay.
Brexit is to be imposed on Scotland despite a 62% remain vote.
The Scottish Parliament has been completely excluded from negotiations.
The Scottish Government’s compromise proposal – continued single market membership for either Scotland or the whole UK – wasn’t just rejected, the Scottish Government weren’t even given the courtesy of a formal reply to their proposals.
Four years ago, when Westminster politicians were begging us to stay in “the UK family of nations”, they promised us we would be respected, equal, and valued partners.
The past two years have completely destroyed that illusion.
When something important with massive implications for Scotland comes along, Westminster ditches its promises, if it can even remember making them in the first place.
And when this country’s representatives complain, protest or just try to be included in discussions they are either ignored, dismissed out of hand, or quite openly laughed at.
Westminster treats doormats with greater respect than it treats Scotland.
The narrow result of that independence vote four years ago has about as much relevance now as Germany winning the world cup four years ago.
It is old news.
The public can now put pressure on the Scottish Parliament to hold another vote on independence.
We could then choose our own future relationship with Europe.
So while the Tories are busy fighting with each other over how to rearrange the deckchairs on HMS Brexit, it is time for Scotland to get into the indy lifeboat and chart our own course.
Parking not the most expensive
Sir, – I write with reference to the letter in Tuesday’s Courier regarding parking charges (“Parking fees are wrecking town”, Letters, December 4).
I would be obliged if Mr Nicoll can advise us where he parks while visiting Edinburgh.
My colleagues and I attend a monthly meeting in Edinburgh, and I have to advise him the charge for on street parking is £3 per hour.
We usually park in an NCP car park in New Street and the last time for three and half hours we paid more than £9.
Edinburgh is one of the most car-unfriendly cities in the UK and I do not think London would be any better.
While not entirely agreeing with the methodology in which the charges were introduced, or the refusal of Angus Council to grant an amnesty over Christmas (bah humbug), any other city that I know of does have parking charges.
We have enjoyed some years of free parking here in Arbroath, and the ill conceived way in which it was introduced does warrant criticism.
Business rates are already at a crippling high and town centre retailers need all the assistance they can get in the face of empty car parks and on-line shopping.
So, Mr Nicoll, please advise us of the location of your cheap Edinburgh parking.
D M Clark.