Sir, – ‘Horrified’ is a very strong word, but I think I use it advisedly when I say I was horrified to read the report in Saturday’s Courier suggesting that the Dundee V&A workers could have worse pay and pension terms than the rest of Scotland’s museum staff.
I am a member of the Dundee Fairness Commission and the evidence we have gathered has pointed to two main causes of the widespread struggle against poverty.
One is welfare reform that is taking around £56 million pounds annually out of the city’s economy.
The other is low pay.
It has long been accepted that work is the best path out of poverty.
Jim McCormick of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation challenged us to look afresh at this assumption.
Describing the changing face of work he said that the number of semi-skilled jobs has fallen dramatically and the revolving door rather than the escalator is the experience of many low wage earners.
There has been the loss of the expectation to advance from your low-paid, low-status job and the fear of being next out-the-door is all too prevalent.
One of the big hopes to bring new prosperity to the city is the Waterfront development which will bring in its wake a large expansion of jobs in catering and hospitality industries where wages are notoriously low.
We asked ourselves: “Can we encourage employers coming here to meet the living wage standard?” We concluded that one of our recommendations would be to promote Dundee as a living-wage city.
The V&A has underpinned much of the optimism with which the city looks forward.
I hope that Design Dundee Limited will recognise the meanness of its argument that DDL employees are not civil servants and, therefore, not employed on civil
service terms and conditions.
This is in complete contradiction to the spirit of hope that the coming of the V&A has generated.
If the employees are doing the same job as civil service museum workers elsewhere, then it is right and proper that they should receive the same terms and conditions.
I hope everyone connected with the Waterfront development will join together to persuade DDL to ensure terms and conditions that are in keeping with museum workers elsewhere in the United Kingdom.
Saddam did have WMD
Sir, – In recent days stories have emerged from the Middle East about Daesh using chemical weapons, weapons of mass destruction, in Syria and Iraq.
The question has been raised as to where these have come from and the official answer seems to be that some are left over from Saddam Hussein.
We all know the legal argument that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence and now this becomes clear.
The fact that Hans Blix and, indeed, US and UK troops were unable to find Saddam’s WMD arsenal did not mean that it did not exist.
It is clear that it was squirrelled away by those of his Sunni henchmen who then became the self-styled Islamic State.
It is time for those handwringers who want us to consider our leaders as war criminals to acknowledge their myopia.
Moreover, the atrocities being carried out by Daesh that we all find so appalling are broadly similar to what was happening daily under Saddam when the self-same handwringers seemed to have had no problem with them at all.
On the other hand, I do agree that the Iraq war was very badly handled, particularly in respect of how to manage the post-victory situation.
A C Grant.
Perth at risk of losing character
Sir, – Councillor Mac Roberts bridles at the cost of reviving Perth City Hall as a market after more than a decade of closure, despite several of your correspondents pointing out the great success of such city markets in several
His carping complaints fit ill with Perth and Kinross Council’s actual and proposed spending sprees, with literally scores of millions of pounds to be found
for many projected developments.
These include some vanity projects including the costly upgrading of council offices, said to include chandeliers, and the airport terminal-like building being added, surely superfluously, to Perth Theatre.
Councillor Roberts is a Conservative, which fits ill with the council’s evident wish, or even obsession, with demolition of our City Hall, a priceless asset, formerly providing a much-appreciated community centre.
It really is time for Perth and Kinross Council’s officials and councillors to assume much more business sense before our Fair City sinks beyond financial redemption while losing its best buildings and, thereby, its vital
111 Viewlands Road West,
Hypocrisy over EU referendum
Sir, – It is intriguing to note the negative reaction by those backing Brexit to Barack Obama’s proclamations on the advantages to the US of the UK staying in the EU.
Individuals such as Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage have been highly critical of the line being taken by the President. This is, of course, rather odd given that in the Scottish independence referendum, many of those same individuals now pouring scorn on the US President’s intervention welcomed it in that debate or said nothing.
It clearly smacks more than a little of hypocrisy and lacks credibility to be critical of this European Union referendum intervention, but to have stayed silent when it came to the Scottish independence referendum.
Field margins support wildlife
Sir, – Peter Stewart’s opinion column, Blame Holyrood for Bureaucracy (April 20) quite rightly highlights the complexity of applying greening requirements under the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
Greening is inflexible with a number of rules and regulations that can be a bureaucratic nightmare.
However, his issue with Scotland’s requirement to have a two-metre margin beside a hedge would not be so warmly welcomed by the number of farmland birds which nest in hedges and their associated margins.
Research conducted by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust has shown how
important hedges with grass strips are for breeding birds, such as whitethroat, and a recent PhD study in Fife found that 50% of yellowhammer nests were in fact in the hedge margin.
Research the trust has conducted at Whitburgh also shows that wider margins are beneficial for several species.
We need to be clever with creating biodiversity hot spots on farms, and the right
feature in the right place can allow both food production and wildlife to flourish.
Game & Wildlife
Conservation Trust Scotland,
True cost of green energy
Sir, – Electricity prices, just like any other business expense, will drive big business that is able to go anywhere in the world, to the cheapest source.
So those countries with cheaper power will benefit from that shift, and if their electricity is cheap, they are likely to be conventional polluters, so their pollution levels will increase because of the arrival of new factories, so the entire point of
generating electricity without CO2 is being defeated.
The double whammy is that the cost of expensive green electricity has to be borne by those who can’t leave, so they gradually become uncompetitive, and go out of business, thus causing further economic decline in their marvellously “green” country.
That is the true effect of expensive green energy.
Why does nobody see this?
15 Gamekeepers Road,