Sir, – In Thursday’s paper, the president of St Andrews Students’ Association claimed to be “astounded by the lack of regard for students in all the discussions” by councillors when they set thresholds to prevent the proportion of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) from rising.
As one of the councillors present, I am astounded by the student president’s selective hearing. Virtually everyone who spoke expressed concern about the high price of student accommodation and the poor condition of some HMOs in St Andrews.
However, councillors felt the solution was not to open up the market to unlimited exploitation by Rackmanite landlords and allow the centre of St Andrews to become an exclusive student ghetto. One after another called on the university to provide affordable accommodation for the increasing numbers of students it is admitting.
St Andrews University has the lowest proportion of students from poor backgrounds in Scotland, and one reason is the high cost of accommodation in the town. If the university is serious about addressing this inequality of opportunity, then it needs to offer the kind of lower-priced accommodation which students want, rather than the expensive, high-end rooms it is currently building. This is also the only sure way to protect students from sub-standard living conditions and unscrupulous landlords.
Students’ lack of regard for St Andrews’ permanent residents, on the other hand, is all too evident in the high number of reported incidents of anti-social behaviour in the town centre. It is triple the next highest rate in north-east Fife and triple the Fife average.
Cllr Linda Holt,
East Neuk and Landward.
Support for the suicidal
Sir, – The shocking statistic that one in nine young adults in Scotland has attempted suicide serves only to remind us of the need for early intervention, understanding and support. Suicide and self-harm are often seen, by those being abused, as a way out.
As a charity supporting abused men in Scotland, whatever the circumstances, we know that some people, when thoughts of ending their lives come to the fore, become isolated, feeling that they are unloved and with nowhere to turn.
As a society we owe it to our younger generation to create an environment where suicide is not their only option.
To achieve that we need to work together to provide the right support services at the right time to be able to give people belief, support and hope at their time of need.
Abused Men in Scotland offer a confidential helpline on 0808 800 0024 for support.
AMIS service manager.
Street shone a brave light
Sir, – Although there has been much criticism recently of the dark storylines – and I myself have been one of the critics – I think it was very brave of Coronation Street to tackle the subject of male suicide.
It is the leading cause of death of young men between the ages of 20 and 49 and one reason this is the case is that men are not very good at discussing their emotions.
As we saw in the story of the character Aidan’s suicide, his family and friends were stunned as he had shown no signs prior to this – which is very much the case in real life.
I would like to congratulate the cast and crew for the outstanding performance and for raising this issue.
I hope some men watching this will come forward and get help if they are feeling suicidal.
In defence of gull power
Sir, – Every year we hear calls for a cull on gulls and, in some towns and cities around Scotland, this happens.
In Dundee I believe there are early-morning gull shoots.
In Arbroath, the council used to employ someone to remove eggs from nests on high buildings.
Gulls are noisy and can be a menace, but killing wildlife because they are an annoyance to humans cannot be the answer.
Gulls are smart creatures and will go to where there is a ready source of food.
If drinkers throw away half-eaten kebabs at 3am, they should not be surprised if a gull swoops on their sausage roll when they are wandering through the town at 3pm the next day.
I have witnessed children being terrorised by huge gulls but this is a consequence of careless behaviour by adults.
If we did not let street bins overflow and if we did not discard food, the gulls would go elsewhere.
No matter how annoying the gulls are, you have to admire their ingenuity.
I have watched them waiting in pairs at the back door of Overgate, Dundee, and swooping on some pour soul’s snack with astonishing stealth.
They are also fiercely protective of their nest and their young.
Humans can learn a lot from them.
Brexit gloom is misplaced
Sir, – Is there something in the air around St Andrews that causes your regular contributors to the letters pages, the Rev D Cameron and Walter Hamilton, to express such gloom over Brexit?
The people of Britain voted democratically to leave the European Union.
By doing this, they meant for us to be able to make our own laws, to control who comes into (and stays in) our country and to trade freely (without EU restrictions) with the rest of the world – hence leaving the single market and customs union.
As for questions over American imports, all that is needed is for the food to be labelled with its country of origin so that people have a choice in what they decide to buy.
Scottish farmers should continue to concentrate on producing quality food, for which there will always be a market.