Will Perth arts centre become a lossmaker?

The proposal to create open space around St Johns Place dates back to 1997.

Sir – Perth and Kinross Council is economical with the truth but not much else.

Their proposed demolition of our City Hall dates back 20 years, not just 10. Demolition of the hall to make way for an open space was confirmed in the 1997 Perth Town Plan that has been in force ever since.

It was also 20 years ago that Historic Scotland told council officers that demolition of that listed building could never be permitted.

From then on, the council spent thousands of pounds attempting to sell the hall when officers knew that leasehold conditions meant that any sale was doomed to fail.

As each attempt has failed, nobody knows who made those blocking conditions.

There is no mention of any sale conditions in any council minutes or correspondence. This is why our City Hall has stood empty all these years.

That 1997 Town Plan also proposed that a much larger venue was needed to accommodate conferences.

There is no record of any business case ever being developed to assess whether the giant concert hall could attract sufficient patrons to ensure it could be afforded.

This is probably the reason why our concert hall still loses millions every year.

This history is not yet closed.

Our council envisages that our huge City Hall should become an arts centre and restaurant for visitors at a forecast cost to us of £7 million.

I wonder if there is sufficient additional arts activity in Perth to avoid a City Hall arts centre becoming another big lossmaker?

This story will run and run.

Andrew Dundas.
34 Ross Avenue,
Perth.

Parents have right to opt out

Sir, – There appears to be a great deal of confusion about the subject of religion in schools (December 30).

Despite humanists and secularists exalting at the headlines about a survey apparently showing that a majority of Scots think children should be able to opt out of religious observance, this is not quite what it seems.

Firstly, it will be noted that it is a YouGov survey which is limited in its size and scope.

Secondly, it is already the case that pupils have the right to opt out of religious observance if their parents or guardians agree. The humanists are not really concerned with pupils being able to opt out, after all they are also campaigning for the Time for Inclusive Education whereby no pupil or parent will be allowed to opt out of compulsory indoctrination in the sexual philosophy of the current elites.

This is yet again another attempt by the more militant secular humanists to remove religion in general and Christianity in particular from public life, especially education.

While I agree with your editorial that it would be foolish to move away from educating pupils in the diverse nature of religion (RE), this is not what is being proposed. Humanists want pupils to be able to opt out of religious observance as a step towards removing it from the public school system.

Rather than remove the paltry six such observances per year, what is needed is more religious education and more meaningful observance.

Parents who do not wish this for their children can already opt out.

David A. Robertson.
St Peter’s Free Church,
4 St Peter Street,
Dundee.

SNP has made its aims clear

Sir, – Iain Richmond (December 30) claimed to be puzzled that Nicola Sturgeon has been fighting so hard for Scotland’s place in Europe. Well, really?

The voters in Scotland chose to remain in the EU by almost two to one. Ms Sturgeon and her party have repeatedly won huge victories in both UK and Scottish elections to represent the voters in Scotland.

Prior to the SNP landslide election victory, two of their policies were absolutely obvious.

Firstly, the SNP made opposition to Brexit crystal clear.

Secondly, we were promised that consideration would be given to us having the chance to break free from Westminster dominance were Scotland to be dragged out of Europe against our wishes. This was a manifesto commitment.

So what is Nicola Sturgeon supposed to do in the light of the Tory strategy to have Europe put tariffs on our exports? Go back on her promise to fight to protect our trade with Europe?

Should she ignore the obvious wishes of two thirds of the Scottish people? Should she agree, without a fight, to a hard Brexit that may cost 80,000 Scottish jobs?

Should she meekly submit to the Tory plans to impoverish us all?

If she were to do all that then Mr Richmond would have a real cause for confusion.

Keep fighting Nicola. We are not confused but support your fight to protect our interests.

K Heath.
Cortachy,
Kirriemuir.

Treat voters with respect

Sir, – I was interested to read former Labour Councillor Bob Taylor’s response to Councillor Tom Adams hailing the Leven, Kennoway and Largo by-election result as brilliant and I am sure any political party in today’s electoral climate would.

It was an achievement for Colin Davidson, a fresh Labour candidate, to come within 48 votes of winning, albeit losing after vote transfers through the single-transferable vote system.

In the forthcoming May elections, both major parties will be displaying distinct differences on a variety of policies.

What the by-election result illustrates is the SNP losing its grip on the day-to-day realities of living and working in an independent Scotland for working-class communities.

This was the message I heard from many residents on the campaign so I am well qualified to comment.

Mr Taylor needs to accept that it is time to treat the electorate with a lot more respect than to pollute their intelligence with the age-old Labour and Tories in bed together at Holyrood and Westminster argument.

Michael Boyd.
Scottish Labour Party,
Dunfermline.

We should be optimistic

Sir, – By common consent, 2016 was a challenging year, a year of disasters, what with Brexit, the election of Donald Trump and a litany of celebrities who sadly passed away.

It is often difficult to remember that parallel to this, we are living through somewhat of an arc of progress.

We are living in a world that is getting richer, with the number of people living in extreme poverty falling below 10% for the first time. Indeed, since 1990 almost 1.1 billion have escaped extreme poverty. World hunger also reached its lowest point for 25 years in 2016.

For many, 2016 may have been seen as the worst of times, but let us not forget it has been among the best of times too, so let’s not be too pessimistic in 2017.

Alex Orr.
77 Leamington Terrace,
Edinburgh.

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