Stop the bulldozers and revive what’s already there

© Rising View
A new boutique hotel will open directly opposite the V&A.

Sir, – I read with interest the differences of opinion over the redevelopment of the waterfront.

Being a Dundonian who has not lived in the city for 30 years, returning in October 2017, I already see many sites in and around the city which could be redeveloped without spending millions on something else.

Reform Street, Dunsinane, Technology Park (now vandalised) to name a few – there are empty shops and offices all over Dundee.

Things haven’t changed. Remember the sixties? The Overgate could have been like The Shambles in York.

The old Overgate lasted from the 1600s. The next lasted from the sixties till – well, it’s all new again. The Wellgate opened in the mid- seventies and all that has happened is to move the main shopping area to the Overgate. There is a finite amount of money to spend.

Also Tayside House has been and gone. So why try again with another £15.5 million?

Stop using bulldozers and bricks, and think.

Give incentives to new businesses to locate in our city in sites and buildings already there.

Dundee looks derelict in places.

Why the centre ? Let’s face it, most places I see are 10 minutes from the centre. The city is not very big!

I could say a lot more…

Gordon Mitchell.
4 Caledonian Court,
Eastwell Road,
Dundee.

 

A good and fair budget

Sir, – When one looks at the fallout from the Draft Scottish Budget I am reminded of the line in the Stealers Wheel hit, “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right.”

While the Conservatives cry crocodile tears about a so-called ‘Nat Tax’, Labour say the Government hasn’t gone far enough. This puts the SNP neatly stuck in the middle of the two. Not a bad place to be dare I say.

Modestly increasing taxes for higher earners but also cutting them for the very lowest, delivering a more progressive tax system, will be welcomed by most. Indeed, polling has shown that a significant majority of Scots support the idea of gradual increases in tax, with higher earners paying more tax and lower earners paying the same or less tax than they currently do.

No one earning less than £33,000 a year will pay any more as a result of the Budget. That’s 1.8 million people, amounting to 70% of taxpayers, while 1.4 million Scottish taxpayers earning less than £26,000 will pay less than if they had lived elsewhere in the UK.

Overall, these tax changes will raise £164 million, allowing the Scottish Government to ‘reverse’ real-terms cuts to Scotland’s resource budget.

Critics have often decried the lack of use of fiscal powers afforded to the Scottish Government, its cautious approach in delivering a ‘progressive’ agenda. Now we have significant divergence with the rest of the UK.

Of course, what people say to pollsters about paying more tax and what they do in practice can be two different matters. This is about to be put to the test.

Alex Orr.
Flat 2,
77 Leamington Tce,
Edinburgh.

 

A budget to fool them all

Sir, – Derek Mackay’s budget was very smart. The poor and uninformed think he has soaked the rich to pay for a public sector pay rise, and the media oblige with headlines that he has “hammered” 750,000 Scots earning over £33,000, which he hasn’t.

It’s pitched as necessary to deal with Tory “austerity” and give more for the NHS, schools and broadband, and buys off Patrick Harvie, out-Corbyns Richard Leonard and plants a big “I’m a horrible Tory” stamp on many foreheads.

The truth is until you get to those earning £75K pa, the maximum effect is plus or minus £90 per year.

The £164m tax increase might cover the pay rises but not £400m for the NHS, £600m for broadband, £400m promised for child care, or the bluster about supporting WASPI women (£800m).

There are only four solutions: grow the economy, borrow, more tax or a lot more cuts.

The Scottish economy is forecast to grow 0.7%, and the SNP can’t borrow, in fact the UK pays for the £14 billion “GERS” deficit.

So that leaves more taxes and cuts. Free prescriptions costing £1.1bn a year and free bus passes and other travel (£250m) are sacred cows, so raising council tax seems the best option, since Mr Mackay can blame councils, and, if Angus Council’s 20% workforce cuts are replicated across Scotland, around 50,000 jobs will go in the next three years, shaving around at least £1bn in wages while unemployment benefits are paid by Westminster, who can also be blamed for the paucity of these benefits.

So at a stroke the SNP have conned the poor, not laid a glove on the rich, and set the scene for the real tax and spend surgery that unfortunately Scotland needs before it can be viable – in or out out of the UK.

Allan Sutherland.
1 Willow Row,
Stonehaven.

 

No loyalty to Carnoustie

Sir, – Regarding the Carnoustie Golf Links Management Committee fiasco over installing Carnoustie councillors into the elected member slots on the committee (The Courier, December 9), I am not surprised that the chairman of CGLMC is quoted as saying he values the leader of Angus Council being a representative on the management committee.

Of course he does, because the leader of Angus Council is totally unaware of the true feelings of the people of Carnoustie, and does not want local councillors anywhere near his committee as they have their fingers on the pulse of the community they represent.

The CGLMC have already shown they take little interest of the wellbeing of the Carnoustie community by planning their new golf centre extension, including a restaurant and shops, which will keep golfing visitors to the 2018 Open Championship at the centre on the course.

This will have the effect of the visitors having no need to come into the town, hence depriving the local businesses of trade.

This is somewhat similar to the action of the R&A in refusing to allow re-entry to The Open when it comes to Carnoustie next year.

The R&A have said this is to stop rogue hospitality operators, but I think what is really behind their decision is the desire to stop legitimate hospitality companies locating outwith the course, due to the high fees charged by the R&A for a site on the course.

H. Ritchie.
18 Burnside Street,
Carnoustie.

 

No to bullets for our bobbies

Sir, – I rather think that bullets for bobbies in circumstances other than when they are dealing with armed criminals and terrorists is overkill.

Hopefully, our elected representatives will call for a halt to this escalation in arming the police, given they were not consulted on this beforehand. Handguns are bad enough, but if police carry automatic weapons, they will display themselves as a grim presence on our peaceful streets.

Leslie Milligan.
18b Myrtlehall Gdns,
Dundee.

 

Bad for business

Sir, – With the permanent possibility of another independence referendum, and now with different taxation rates, those organisations who work to attract new business to Scotland – the only way to really expand the economy – have been set an impossible task.

These two negatives also have an impact on existing businesses.

Between them they provide a disincentive to expand, and also make it difficult to attract specialist expertise from abroad, as well as from elsewhere in the UK.

Any beneficial effect of the SNP budget is overshadowed by the further uncertainty about Scotland it has created.

Malcolm Parkin.
Kinnesswood,
Kinross.

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