Sir, – I am astonished that a councillor should favour third parties being given a right to appeal against approvals of planning applications (“Council plans to write to Holyrood to change planning regulations”, Courier, December 14).
This would greatly increase costs to local government when it is already financially strapped, so leading to more reductions in services.
It is untrue that there is widespread distrust of the planning system.
The great majority know or care little about it.
They rarely participate in consultation exercises.
That is especially true of younger people and those with low incomes.
Those who object to proposals are largely middle-aged and elderly persons who own homes.
The situation is symptomatic of the conflict between the “haves” and the “have-nots” and between older and younger generations.
The planning system gives people many chances to express opinions – there is no comparable allowance in most other areas, for example foreign policy, arms exports and so on.
One cannot appeal against closure of a bank, post office, shop, library or the like.
Lodging appeals is a complex and expensive process and very few people would wish to spend their scarce time and money on it.
There should be much more mediation.
In Victoria, Australia, the (independent) appeals tribunal does not allow a third party to lodge an appeal unless such has been first engaged in.
105 Leonard Street,
Statistics tell limited story
Sir, – Your report (“Drink-drive limit ‘not reducing accidents’”, Courier, December 17) includes the statement from a professor of medical statistics that the most plausible explanation for the surprising finding was that the lower limit in Scotland was not backed up with sufficient police enforcement or media campaigning.
I found food for thought in a Police Scotland report, on a campaign against drink driving dated July 2018, that said they had tested 4,500 people, and found 195 drivers to be over the limit, of which number 91% were over the old limit, leaving 9% who were between the old and new lower limit.
There might be an equally plausible explanation, namely that the vast majority of accidents were already being caused by those over the original limit.
50 Cortachy Crescent,
Finding some figures of note
Sir, – It has been interesting to note the Bank of England public appeal for nominations for the person to appear on the new polymer £50 note.
The call by more than 200 leading stars, cultural leaders and politicians to put a historic figure from a black and ethnic minority on it is to be greatly welcomed.
It is about time that we reflected multicultural Britain by putting a person of colour on the note and the Crimean War nurse Mary Seacole would be a well-deserved candidate for this.
Seacole was a British-Jamaican business woman and nurse and when the Crimean War broke out she applied to the War Office to assist, but was refused.
Undeterred she travelled independently and set up the “British Hotel” behind the lines, assisting the battlefield wounded.
Seacole became extremely popular among service personnel, who raised money for her when she faced destitution after the war.
To mark her tremendous contribution she was posthumously awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit in 1991 and in 2004 she was voted the greatest black Briton.
Ethnic minority contributions represent 14% of the British population and their achievements were all the greater for having been made at a time when so many careers were closed to them.
Putting an ethnic minority background on the new note would show that their contribution to Britain is valued and recognised.
2/3 Marchmont Road,
A bit unfair, strictly speaking
Sir, – I am not going to admit to being excited about the result of Strictly Come Dancing because I, in truth, watch the programme for my wife’s sake.
This morning one of our friends got quite excited that the winner was not one of the contestants who was regularly selected by the judges as best dancer and became almost apoplectic at the public error in choosing the winner.
My suggestion that the total number of points gained each week should be totalled to decide the winner was, in his opinion, a much more fair way to reach a decision.
Personally I do not care who wins.
A A Bullions,
6 Glencairn Crescent,
Noise levels are through the roof
Sir, – I find it absolutely ridiculous that housing associations and local councils do not provide vouchers to tenants to buy carpets.
Alternatively they could fit carpets themselves for tenants who can’t afford to buy them.
It could be seen as an investment to the property.
It would also show due consideration for tenants who are in flats below people who have bare flooring or even worse laminate flooring and have to endure horrendous noise levels.
I write as a ground floor tenant and have this on a daily basis.
117 Simpson Square,
Christians do not own Xmas
Sir, – Thistles Shopping Centre in Stirling has recently conceded to the installation of a Christian nativity scene despite its otherwise commendable policy of being religiously and politically neutral.
The baby Jesus myth has resonance for a believing minority but the “religious freedom” cited by those who argued for this public display must not extend to the right to impose Christianity on everyone else.
The winter solstice or Christmas, with its promise of returning sun is an emotionally significant season for all, and while nobody seeks to deny Christians their interpretation they do not own its “true meaning”.
This farce has run and run
Sir, – Pantomime season is here to stay.
Having decided that no vote is better than a bad vote, our prime minister reverted to her default Baldrickian Cunning No Plan – a strategy that never fails to baffle EU ministers, the opposition, and even her own party.
MPs are uncertain whether they should back a back-to-back backstop, back it as a stopgap, stop backing it pro tem or just back off and back out of it altogether.
I’ve been very clear about this.
Not that any of it will make much difference to the Labour Party, whose distinguished record of non-participation in voting is designed to unnerve all MPs, without exception.
This latest in a series of West End Westminster panto-farces is set to run and run, mesmerising audiences with its nebulous charm.
There’s frictionless fun (bordering on hysteria) for everyone.
Opening to rave reviews, and in some cases raving, the PM, in leading role, felt reluctantly obliged to participate in a post-performance interview with drama critic
Laura K, broaching the question of stepping down from the part.
Not since 1865 (“But apart from that Mrs Lincoln, how did you like the play?) has such an awkward question been met with less enthusiasm.
It is time for a radical change
Sir, – We are now in another fine mess but this is not the time to change horses.
We voted to leave.
Democracy is in danger.
We have too many middle class MPs who think they know best.
Losers always want another throw of the dice.
What we need in this country is a bit of real democracy where the people are asked to choose the Prime Minister who would then form a Government and he or she need not be a standing politician.
Am I the only one who thinks our system rigged where nothing changes for the better?
John G Phimister,
63 St Clair Street,